TW: eating disorders, dieting, vomit and weight loss.
Do you like my title?
It was actually the title of my A-Level coursework where I wrote the first chapter of an autobiography, and I’ve always wanted to reuse it for a blog post.
Anyway, I have a much more important topic to discuss today; my relationship with food.
This post is not advice. It’s not medically informed, and it’s not perfect; it’s simply my story. I do not condone my actions, nor do I make excuses for them and I do not wish to trigger any of you, hence the trigger warning. If this is too much for you at any point, please do feel free to stop reading. Lots of love xxx
Now, I feel like it’s important to disclaim that I have written this post before. In fact, I’ve probably written this post 6 or 7 times, and each one has ended up in the trash. I’ve even mentioned it in other blog posts, and deleted those bits too. I know I have hinted at this before, so if you have followed my blog for a while you may have already guessed, but I thought it was time to come clean and be honest; I’ve always had a really turbulent relationship with food.
For as long as I can remember, people around me have said ‘if you eat that you’ll end up like your dad’ and ‘you’ll have your dad’s figure if you stop exercising’. Now, it’s important to say here that my dad is a little chubby and always has been, for as long as I can remember. His family have that type of build, but it does also mean that my dad has Type 2 Diabetes. I won’t go into that right now, maybe another day.
These fleeting comments really have haunted me from a young age and negatively affected the way I see my appearance, as you probably know if you’ve read my posts such as The Wedding Diaries; ‘You’ll Want To Lose A Bit Of Weight Before Your Wedding’, Learning To Love Myself and Meal Replacements? Collaboration with DietNow! #ad.
Yeah, that last one is a little problematic isn’t it? I have thought many, many times about deleting it, but it’s a reflection of the place that I was in when I wrote it, so I’ve decided to keep it for now.
Anyway, so from a young age I had a complex about what I ate, constantly. When I was around 8/9, I noticed that I didn’t snack on chocolate bars and crisps like other people my age, I ate tomatoes and fruit and cucumber and carrots, they were my snacks. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. They were healthy options, no doubt, but the point that I am trying to make here is that I had started to restrict my food due to conceptions of ‘health’ and trying not to ‘end up like my dad’, and it was really quite damaging.
I didn’t eat biscuits, milk, cake, or bread. If you asked me why, I’d tell you that I didn’t like them.
And then I moved up to secondary school, and I joined the wonderful world of social media. And that’s when something really serious began.
Over the summer before year 7, I was determined that I wanted to lose weight. I came up with a stupid ‘water diet’ (which I named myself). This basically meant that when I felt hungry, I’d drink water until I didn’t. I just want to say now that I am in no way promoting this, I know how damaging and unhealthy this truly was now, but at the time, that’s honestly what I did. My parents didn’t know about this (of course) as I continued to eat meals at home, it was just during the day (every day) with my friends that I wouldn’t eat anything, because I felt like I was slightly bigger than them and I couldn’t bring myself to eat in front of them.
When I went back to school in September, I simply couldn’t keep this up. I felt like I was gaining weight, so I made the decision to skip breakfast, because I thought that was the only way forward. I was still restricting what I did actually eat, but this made me feel better for now.
And then, before long, the fear of people seeing me eat crept into my daily life at school too. I knew these people, I had seen them eat for years and years and vice versa, but all of a sudden I felt like I could not stand letting them watch me eat any longer. So, I started to skip lunch too. My mum made me lunch (of course) but I threw it away. After a while, I felt bad about the wasted food so asked mum to start giving me lunch money instead. I never spent this on food, of course, I saved it instead. (My family were never well off so I feel incredibly guilty admitting to this, but I couldn’t let my parents know that I wasn’t eating 2 meals a day).
I was losing weight, rapidly, and I was happy about it. I started to enjoy feeling hungry, it was an indication of all the weight that I was losing, or so I thought.
Of course, this couldn’t last forever. In the next year, my dancing commitments really stepped up and I was hungrier than ever before. Around that time, I also read a book. I cannot remember what it was called, but in the book one of the twins started to make herself sick in order to lose weight. It described (in detail) exactly how to do this without being caught.
I remember there being a week or so when I couldn’t stop thinking about this book. I knew that it was wrong and that I shouldn’t, but it also sounded like a great plan to me. I could eat what I wanted but not gain the calories, and it didn’t take long for me to start doing this.
Admitting this is incredibly hard.
The only person who knew, at the time, was my (then) best friend, and she did it too.
I’m stopping at this point to let you know that this is the furthest I’ve ever gotten with writing this down, and I’m proud of myself for getting this far. I’ve got tears rolling down my cheeks and I’ve text Zack for some moral support, but I am proud.
Ok, so this is the part of the story where Zack comes in.
Zack came into my life and made me happy. I had felt worthless for a very long time, and so I hadn’t cared about being healthy, I only cared about how I looked. But, he suddenly made me realise that I did want to be healthier.
At the beginning of our relationship, being with Zack actually made it easier for me to eat less. I could go to his after school so I wouldn’t have to eat, or if he was at mine I could offer him my food so that I didn’t have to eat as much of it. I couldn’t be sick anymore, though, as Zack was there. But, after awhile, Zack became aware that I wasn’t eating very much, and he was concerned.
I opened up to him, and he was the first person to ever make me see just how wrong what I was doing was. And, slowly but surely, I started to recover.
I didn’t ever get medical advice or go to see a doctor, luckily my life was changed before things got too bad. But, if I could say anything to younger self, it would be to do so. If I’d have got medical help, I could’ve recovered sooner.
Until last year, I didn’t ever tell anyone about my experience. I kept it hidden, and kept it to myself. But, last year, something a bit shit happened. My worst fears were confirmed, and someone called me the f-word. I had quite a tough time for a few weeks after that, but I also realised how far I had come from that place. I may have been reminded of it and thrown back there for a second, but I overcame those thoughts and quickly realised that I wanted to share my story.
I told my mum and my nan. You may have been wondering for the duration of this post how they didn’t know, and the answer is that I hid it well. I did it gradually, so people thought I was just losing weight gradually. As I started dancing more also, that was an easy excuse. It also affected my skin colouring and made me look ill, but I’ve always been pale so I passed it off as that. It also affected my teeth, and this one I couldn’t really hide, but I used whitening toothpaste 3 times a day in an effort to try and stop it. My periods were also affected, and this scared me a lot.
When I first told them, my mum and nan were upset that they hadn’t realised. But I do not blame them for that and never have; I was good at hiding it and never gave them a reason to worry.
So where am I now?
Well, I’ve gained a lot of weight. I try not to restrict my food as best I can. I also try not to worry about calories or healthy choices, as I am aware that this did me no good last time. I try to just eat when I’m hungry, and it’s been working so far. I do still have a complex about eating in public places, but I am trying my best to overcome that, I even ate on the train yesterday! I have this weird thing where I shake if I get too hungry, I’m not sure what that is but it’s a little scary sometimes.
I’ve tried to tell this story as candid and honest as possible. I haven’t tried to make it into a love story and make out that Zack saved me, but that is genuinely what happened. He didn’t do anything really special or out of the ordinary, but he helped me greatly to see that I was worth something and that the ways that I was using to ‘lose weight’ just weren’t right, and for that I will be forever grateful.
If you have or are experiencing similar issues and would like to seek help, please contact Beat on 08088010677. Alternatively, you can contact their student line (08088010811) or their youth line (08088010711). You can also find out more information on the NHS website. Mind also offer a text line 86463.