Just a regular woman with 20 years of experience dealing with body image issue, bulimia and mental health.
Eating disorder, my self respect and me!
I admired myself in the mirror of my room which I shared with three other girls. My waist looked tiny in the black top and blue jeans. My butt looked small. I was happy, but not satisfied with the reflection staring back at me. My waist was not tiny enough and butt not small enough. You see, I am a dark-skinned girl. I need to compensate for my complexion with everything else.
I made a mental note of skipping the meal that day. I weighed 47 kgs.
I had not eaten in the last two days and the idea of skipping meals for the third day made me happy. I may finally look like those girls in the magazines. All glossy, shiny and skinny.
Dark-skinned and plus size girls did not feature in magazines back then. It was all about fair and skinny girls. And I wanted to be what I saw. I perceived the world based on these magazines. These girls were popular and desirable. They were the epitome of beauty and they truly were beautiful. Beyonce had not sung Pretty Hurts! Alessia Cara had not sung Scars to your beautiful!
I never realized I was beautiful too, that I am allowed to live and not punish myself because the color of my skin is a certain color. It is OK. I am OK and I can live.
Not eating and puking everything out if eaten seemed like a fair deal to me. It never really bothered me. On the contrary, I was proud. I took pride in the amount of time I could go without food. FYI, the longest is 5 days.
It is not like I never ate anything. I would eat at times as I did not want the world finding out my secret to staying skinny. Every time I ate, I would find myself in a bathroom hung over a basin, with my finger in my mouth. Trying to vomit out every little crumb of food. And that used to be the best day. I would get to taste food; pretend I am normal and yet not get fat. I went through a phase of having two red bulls a day and no solid food.
I tied my happiness, my success, my desirability and everything about me with how much I weighed. I justified my Bulimia in every way.
Slowly, life took its toll on me. I was severely anemic, diagnosed with PCOS, put on 18 kgs in a span of three months, had severe acne and hair fall.
The doctor started me on a few medicines and recommended a dietician. The dietician chalked out a meal plan for me. I was to consume 900 calories a day, eat lot of fruits and vegetables and I was to not eat carbs. But little did she know, I believed in going food-free. I continued with not eating and my bulimic habits. And my health worsened. This time my extremely worried doctor referred me to a Psychiatrist. I was too wary and too proud to let the psychiatrist in and decided to let go of the entire treatment. I believed if I continued not eating I would eventually lose weight, as that was the only important factor to me.
I was lying on my bathroom floor, puking water that tasted like acid and bleeding from my rectum. I was scared. I thought this is it. This is my end. I was lying there for hours probably till morning, I still cannot recollect all of it. Finally when I could gather courage to get up I poured water on myself, wrapped a towel and ordered for idly and glucose. I managed to wear clothes and eat. And I puked again. I called up my estranged doctor and broke down. I have severe IBS and gastroenteritis, and not to forget PCOS. She was kind, she sent help. And this time I decided to heal. I knew it is going to be a long journey. But I was ready for it. I had put my body and myself through a lot of hatred. I wanted to live. I wanted to eat. After many many many years, I wanted to eat.
I was regular with my medicines and therapy sessions. I listened to my doctors. I learnt a lot. I had to relearn to trust myself with me. Not to lie to myself, not to lie to my doctors. I learnt to love myself for the first time in years.
I had quite a few relapses and still anybody with an eating disorder gives me anxiety (especially the ones who do not recognise it, I fear they will be lying in their bathroom floor one day). I went through a phase of punishing myself by exercising, and that took a while to heal. I slowly adapted a healthy lifestyle. I now walk, dance and practise yoga for 4 to 5 days a week.
I eat 8 meals (small and big) through the day. I enjoy every morsel of food. Each day I am grateful to be able to eat. I am fortunate to find a partner who loves his food.
Although I still have PCOS, but, I have learnt to manage it. I look good and most importantly I feel awesome! I have built my trust and my life. I finally have earned what I craved for all these years. Self respect! And nobody or nothing can take this away from me.
Until next time, take care, stay safe and mask up!
© 2021 Shipra Jain