Author: Shriya C.
I have put off submitting this post for a long time now.
Not because I didn’t have time (although I am a pretty busy person), but because I was afraid. Afraid because of the stigma associated with eating disorders.
People automatically assume anorexia is the “teenage girls disease”, and they believe that it only affects the “socially elite”.
This – I cannot stress enough – is extremely false.
I would know myself, for I am of immigrant heritage, and my family was stricter than most. I was expected to work hard and excel in my studies.
And I did do that. For all my life, I’ve been an honors student, with stellar grades and a wide array of extracurriculars. To the public eye, it would seem that my life was perfect.
Nobody expected me to have an eating disorder. Nobody in my family cared too much about looks- what mattered was your brain.
Thus, it was so difficult for my parents to understand their daughter refusing to eat. To them, it was logic – you get hungry, you eat.
They didn’t understand that eating disorders are not always about weight and food. It isn’t that simple. These are complex mental disorders that can manifest and affect anyone.
When I first was diagnosed, I felt terrified. I was very young, and I didn’t even fully know what an eating disorder was.
All I remember was sitting in an emergency-room bed, sobbing because a doctor had told me that I needed to weigh more than I did. Otherwise, I would die.
In the days following, I was admitted into a program. And, admittedly, it was not easy. I would fight with my parents every single day about food, and I would stay up all night doing crunches trying to burn off whatever I had ate that day.
It had been two years since I have been discharged. And, I am so grateful – so, so grateful to have my life back.
There was a time where I was so malnourished that I couldn’t even lift my head up. Now, I can run five miles faster than most people around me. For the first time in a long time, I feel strong and happy.
In fact, a week ago, I went to a friend’s birthday party. And, of course, at the party, they served a birthday cake. That was the day, for the first time in two years, that I was able to eat a slice of cake. When I got home, I cried. Not because I was sad, or depressed, but because I was happy. I’ve come a long way on this journey, and I’m finally finding peace within myself.
Recovery is never linear. It’s never perfect. It takes time – but you will get there. And trust me, it’s so so worth it.