My Old Pals, Ana & Mia.

National Eating Disorder Awareness week, NEDA for short, was from February 26th to March 4th, and aimed to spotlight eating disorders and provide life-saving resources to those who need it. It’s time to talk about eating disorders and the many gripping holds it has on people’s lives.

From excessively counting calories or straight up purging yourself, eating disorders are terrifying and quickly overwhelm your life. Health should come from within.

I should first start off by saying that I was once bulimic from the age of 14 to about 16 years old. I was always self-conscious about the way I looked because I thought I was fatter than what was in the mirror. Looking back on photos I can see I was dead wrong. My freshmen year of high school was the worst of it. I was constantly going to the bathroom after meals, working out in excess and even getting deep onto Tumblr blogs for tips about how to better purge yourself.

Those blogs were called “Ana&Mia,” short for anorexia and bulimia. Clever, right? The only reason I stopped is because my sister caught me throwing up with my cousin’s toothbrush over the toilet at our aunt and uncles house on Thanksgiving. She walked in as a prank to be funny but caught me red handed throwing up with the toothbrush in my hand. She was going to school to become a medical assistant so she basically scared me to stop by showing me what stomach acid can do your throat and teeth. Something the Anna & Mia blogs failed to mention. She also told me to stop or she was going to tell mom. At this point both my parents were already concerned about my eating habits and how thin I had gotten.

NEDA’s theme this year was “It’s Time to Talk About It.” Emphasizing the stigma behind the different types of disorders and trying to address them as public health concerns. They also try to empower those who have taken steps towards recovery and are aiming to increase access to care for those who are struggling. They even cover topics on stigmas surrounding men with eating disorders. A topic many don’t like to address or even think about. The term “manorexia” stuns people when they discover that men can have poor images of themselves too.

Although it’s been years since I last purged, I still struggle with how I view myself. I constantly find that I am comparing myself to other women and thinking I want to look like them. But the reality is I won’t. I won’t have long legs the beautiful 5’11’’ model does or have a cute tiny frame like my friend who is 5’2.’’ For my height I know I need to be a certain weight, but honestly I’m concerned more about my health than numbers on a scale. I workout because I want to jump higher and have muscles that sculpt my body, I try to meal prep healthier food options every week so I won’t eat out. But life happens, specifically Thursday-Saturday night, and it becomes a lot harder to workout and eat right.

Since I still have a small hint of body dysmorphia, I absolutely do not find it funny when people make jokes about not eating or anything about purging yourself.  Health should also be viewed as a mental state. As long as you’re happy and healthy in your own body thats fine. Making sure that you make the right choices and are able to love when you look in the mirror. It’s important to remember that were able to indulge in our guilty pleasures every once and while but in moderation. Moderation is different for each person and it’s our responsibility to our bodies to find out what that means.

I know a few girls that have eating disorders but don’t realize it. By this I mean they’re too obsessive over how much they eat and how long they should work out to burn off that last meal. I only know of the warning signs because I’ve lived them. However, me saying anything isn’t going to stop them, I’ve been there. I remember my parents would comment about my weight and I would roll my eyes and get super upset about it. You can’t force someone to change, they must realize they have a problem and allow others to help them. Just like my sister did to me, an extreme case of scaring me straight but still. I needed it.

The point of this was to raise awareness of other disorders rather than my old pals Ana & Mia. Being restrictive on how much you eat or obsessing over working is the same. Calorie counting is okay, so long as it’s healthy for your height and weight. Same with working out so long as you’re not spending three hours on the elliptical. For resources, help, or general questions about eating disorders click here. 

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