If I Only Knew

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people with anorexia. Getting so thin their periods stop, they lose their hair, heart problems, death, so on. I remember knowing these things when I was highly restricting my caloric intake as a young teenager. I thought, “yeah, that isn’t good, but I’m not like that. I’m just trying to lose a bit of weight. I’m not that bad.”

If only I knew.

When I first binged and purged, I thought it wasn’t a big deal. It was only on occasion I did it (until it wasn’t in college when it was several times a day). I would never do it so much that I would wear a hole in my throat like I heard other people had done. It wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t that bad.

If I only knew.

Of all the things I could be obsessed with, exercise and healthy eating surly wasn’t the worst! Isn’t this what people idolize anyway!? Surely there’s nothing wrong with a strictly healthy diet. In fact, more people should be like me. I’m not that bad.

If only I knew.

In December of 2016, I had my first on set of severe IBS. I woke up the week before Christmas in so much pain that I thought my appendix burst. After many doctors appointments and thousands of dollars later, they came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with me except for a small erosion in my small intestine. There wasn’t much they could do. I had to live through days of stomach pains so bad I didn’t want to get out of bed, constant constipation, and appalling gas.

Come to find out, one results of anorexia is IBS. I did this to myself.

In addition to the lower GI issues, a wave of acid reflux and heartburn so bad it felt like I was having a heart attack came in and the tide never receded. Taking anacids daily, multiple times a day is my new normal. The anacids in and of themselves have their own set of problems. Long term use can demineralize your bones and inhibit your body from absorbing vitamin B12. I now have to supplement calcium and am overwhelming tired despite how much vitamin B12 I consume.

Heartburn and acid reflux is a result of bulimia. I did this to myself.

Facebook feels the need to continually remind me of when I was “super healthy.” Often, it would overwhelm me with feelings of inadequacy. I would stress that I wasn’t where I once was despite the fact I was stronger, healthier physically and mentally, and working on the recovery of all the eating disorders of my past. I knew I was on the right road, but anxiety of people seeing my softer body kept me from going out and wearing certain clothes. I hate to admit it, but it still affects me in this way more often than not.

Effects of orthorexia include stress, low self worth, social isolation, and anxiety. I did this to myself.

All of these things are sobering. To think I was so obsessed with trying to be beautiful enough, skinny enough, and “healthy” enough that I disregarded the long term affects it would have on my body breaks my heart. If only I could have see the beauty in my flaws.

I don’t say all this because I hate myself for it. I’ve had to forgive myself for putting my body through this. It wasn’t easy and I still struggle some days, but it was worth it. I do say all this to make others aware of the effects ED has on one’s life.

You may not die, but the other “less serious” effects are real, painful, and serious.

You don’t want this in your life, trust me. You matter more than your appearance. Reach out to people that care about you. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, call the NEDA helpline, 800-931-2237.

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