I never thought it would be possible to be too healthy.
That is until I was.
It’s no secret that I battled a hard struggle with anorexia when I was 18 years old. What started as a healthy habit of going to the gym and saying no to cheesecake for dessert quickly spawned into a weight-loss of 40-50 lbs.
Weight that I didn’t need to lose and that left me at a malnourished state of 84 lbs.
Years later, you would think that the experience of my illness would scare me into making sure that I didn’t take that downward spiral again. However, it apparently didn’t. Unfortunately, anorexia is something that I think I will deal with for the rest of my life. That is, if I let it.
Over years since, my weight has fluctuated up and down. During the winter/spring last year, my weight dropped until my family (who have a tendency to closely monitor my weight – but really, can you blame them?) brought up the issue. I decided to fix myself before I went too far and I began a love affair with baking and cooking. This lasted until the fall, at which time a photo of myself surfaced on Facebook. This photo made my face look full (which, by the way, was one of the things that started my whole eating disorder in the first place – I always had a strong desire to have a thin face/sleek jawline/refined cheekbones… call me crazy, I know).
This past summer, I also started developing some digestion issues. My stomach would randomly cramp up and I would become bloated and gassy. I started doing research and everything I read blamed wheat, yeast, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar on these symptoms.
So I cut it all out of my diet. And I cut out all baking and cooking (with respect to my minimalist meals). I cut out the things that I used to enjoy, and that my boyfriend and I used to enjoy together.
I ate “clean,” which looking back was actually deprivation. For the past four months I stopped going to social functions that revolved around food, I stopped going out and drinking with friends, I stopped wanting to go to restaurants and enjoy an evening with my boyfriend, I stopped wanting to experiment in the kitchen with my boyfriend, I stopped laughing and enjoying myself, I was moody because I wasn’t eating properly, I was tired all the time from my body lacking necessary fuel, I was anxious, I was paranoid.
I was so healthy I became unhealthy.
My weight (again) plummeted. I was eating as clean as possible, exercising, going to bed early, following every single recommendation that every single website I read spit at me – yet everyone was telling me how unhealthy, tired and sick I looked.
I recently had a lesson with my new horse. She’s 8 months old and I love her to bits. We were working on our ground training and she was pulling on me. I had to swing my arm and resist against her pulling until she stopped fussing and stood still. By the end of it (like 10 seconds) I was exhausted. My arm was tired, my chest was tired. I just wanted to sit down.
She’s 8 months old. What am I going to do when she grows and gets even stronger? How am I supposed to be a responsible, capable horse owner if I can’t even manage her as a filly? Where did the strong rider I used to go?
One night about two weeks ago my boyfriend and I made a gluten-free pizza. I didn’t feel good afterward and I blamed him. I cried and said that it’s his fault I felt so sick – that he wants me to be sexier and have curves and I can’t because I can’t eat so many food groups – that he’s trying to make me eat it and it makes me sick. I realized that I was holding a lot of anger inside at him because I sub-consciously felt guilty that I wasn’t good enough. I knew was hurting our relationship because I wasn’t the fun-loving girl I used to be, but instead of dealing with my issues I blamed him.
These two realizations hit me like a ton of bricks. I have consistently looked at myself in the mirror while wearing just underwear and I hate seeing my bones – I want to be sexy. Yet it didn’t make me want to change. I wanted to change for my horse. I wanted to change for my relationship.
“Being sexy” isn’t something I actually value. Being a capable horse owner is. Being a good girlfriend that is happy and has fun with her boyfriend is.
It was then that I realized that I’m not sick. I’m not “allergic” to all those food groups like I told everyone that I was. I was anorexic again. I was pretending that they affected me because I was mentally sick.
Since that day of realization about one and a half weeks ago, I have since started eating healthier. I am back to eating wheat. I am back to snacking and going out for beers and laughing. I am back to baking cookies with my boyfriend and licking the mixing spoons. I am back to being his girlfriend.
I love my relationship. I love the fact that I am a horse girl. I love my life. I have vowed that I NEED to stop this. I NEED to stop harming myself. I NEED to value my self – in every single shape and role.
I have felt better and happier this past week than I have in over four months. Thank you to everyone that has been so understanding, helping, and kind during this hard time for me. I am so grateful for all of you.
(Originally written in 2014) In this season of temptations and food-related guilt, often associated with the holidays… please, please, please don’t let it ruin your time with friends and family. You are more than your exterior, so celebrate love and happiness this season.