Never a truer word has been said than “you can’t tell if someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them.” I am 21st and 6ft tall. I have had an eating disorder since I was roughly 9 (yes, I said 9) when it was drummed into my already tiny frame by my equals and peers that I was overweight, I was getting pudgy, my thighs were fat and euuwww I had stretch marks too!! (Heaven forbid…)
I was at my first primary school and I was in year 5. I had started developing hips early but my breasts didn’t sprout till a few years later, because my hips had widened my thighs and stomach had got a little bigger. To me at the time, this didn’t bother me, I didn’t see the issue until the boys started to point it out to me and made it an issue.
In P.E. in the summer it was shorts and tee with your trainers and being a fucking kid I saw no issue with my shorts barely hitting my thighs they covered what needed to be covered and that’s all that mattered. The down side as that my thighs were on show and when a little weight was added I was struck down with the “dreaded” stretch marks…. which the other kids took great pleasure in telling me were disgusting and ugly.
We were 9 or 10 in that year….and already I was being told I was ugly because i’d put on a little weight and little red marks had appeared on my skin. It took exactly three weeks for me to start controlling my dietary intake. That was when it started and for the next 10+ years I found it incredibly hard to eat “properly”.
I had this twisted image in my head of what I was supposed to look like thanks to the way I was talked too by the children and by the teachers NOT FUCKING STOPPING IT. I’m not kidding; the teachers knew – mum had spoken to them many times in the space of six months and not once did they ever try and stop it. Luckily (sort of…..) I was moved to a different school for my final 18 months until I went to secondary school.
Secondary school was a whole new kettle of fish. 11 years old when I started year 7 in 1997. The first few months were honestly not too bad… however being the little kookball that I was and always have been – it really didn’t take that long for things to change and once more I turned to controlling my food intake as a way to cope with everything going on.
I’ve always been tall for my age and with that I’ve always been pretty thin so when my weight started to fluctuate nobody at school took any notice. My mum noticed and she always supported me and tried to help. The problem was that when I was bullied and mum would go into school the teachers were complete asshats and mentioned my name to the bullies which then made it 100x worse for me because I’d get it worse the next time they saw me.
Funny side note; the school actually counted (in the five years I was there), my mum went in roughly 189 times. That’s 188 too many imho.
I always had an excuse to not do P.E. – anything that meant I had to change in front of others and show any skin was a no-go for me. I didn’t want anyone seeing my “disgusting” stretch marks, fat stomach, thighs, flabby backside and flat chest. In Year 8 I was still an A cup… but I had wide hips so I was out of proportion and that made things so much worse because finding clothes to fit me was hard. Trousers would fit me in the leg but not the hip/waist ratio. Or they’d fit my hips and not waist or legs. So I turned to skirts… but of course with where they were made to sit I always looked like I had wider hips than I did… which led the other kids to make even more comments leading me to cut out even more food.
I was told on a daily basis that I was ugly, nobody would ever find me attractive and that nobody would ever date me. Once my breasts started to develop I never knew how to dress because I wanted to hide them – I didn’t want something else for the kids to make fun of me for. Turns out they noticed anyway and would punch me in the chest most weeks. Netballs and footballs were purposefully aimed at them and I am now told I’m ridiculously lucky I didn’t end up with problems.
It wasn’t until I was 19/20 and started the depo injection that I finally started to put on weight; and by that point I had come to the realisation that I needed help and needed to put on weight but it was still incredibly hard to accept and now ten years later, I still have issues; I still control my food intake when I’m extremely stressed but now I can go either way. I either don’t eat enough and go hungry or I comfort eat all the wrong foods.
I still have weight issues. I can either love myself or hate myself; there is no in between at all. There are days that I refuse to look in the mirror because all those memories of being told I’m fat and ugly, nobody will ever find me attractive (even though I have an amazing girlfriend am still paranoid that nope, she doesn’t find me attractive)… I no longer refer to my stretch marks as such….. they’re tiger stripes and I’m learning to love them because they are a sign of change and I have to accept that change no matter good or bad.
I personally think that once you have had an E.D. you never completely fully recover; something will always be there that could send you back – but with the right friends and relatives there for support it doesn’t mean defeat by any means.
Having and E.D. doesn’t mean you’re weak and don’t let anyone for one second convince you that you are.
If you have an eating disorder or know someone that does and you’re ready for help you can head here (UK) www.b-eat.co.uk there’s also www.eatingdisorderssupport.co.uk , www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk , www.seedeatingdisorders.org.uk
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE LINKS A NUMBERS FOR OUTSIDE OF THE UK.