This time last year, I was about 48kg, or 104lbs. I was on a medication that completely removed my appetite. I’m one of those people that only eats when they are hungry, so, as you can imagine, this was a problem. I had biked to work every day in the summer of 2015, which was a 20 minute bike ride each way, plus an 8 hour shift on my feet. This increase in exercise, and decrease in calorie intake caused my body to go into shock. I lost 35lbs in about a month. That sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I’m sure more than one person hates me when I say that. The thing is, it wasn’t healthy. My chronic pain levels were on the rise, and I began to lose my hair. I had bald spots, and clumps of my hair stuck in my vacuum (Yeah I know, it’s gross).
As someone who’d struggled to put off a few pounds, despite my best efforts to do so, I was thrilled. The number on the scale satisfied me, but I still looked at myself in the mirror, poked and prodded myself in areas I didn’t like. Feeling frail gave me this thrill, almost like a high, and I thrived on it. I fit into my thin friend’s clothes, and went out to pubs more. I had this false confidence. People would tell me to eat more, and I’d just say “haha yeah, I know I’m underweight”, but I was proud of it. I was scared, and I was waiting for a diagnosis for what I now know is Fibromyalgia. The medication I was on, as well as (I assume) my not eating, caused my fine motor skills to slow down significantly. My hands wouldn’t function properly, and it would take me upwards of 5 minutes to unlock my apartment door.
My efforts to grow my hair out had halted due to the amount of my hair that I was losing. I was distressed, and my grades started to drop dramatically. I was too afraid to ask for help at that point. I broke up with my partner at the time, and started to improve a little bit. I was still thin, and a scary amount so. No one knew that I enjoyed it, and no one knew that I’d been withholding food from myself since I was a child as a way to punish myself when I felt guilty. No one knew.
I could see my ribs, and my collar bones stuck out. I could see my knobby knees, and I could see my boney wrists. I saw them, and I was delighted. I learned tricks like gulping down loads of water as a way to fill my stomach, and using smaller plates so my portions would look larger. I wasn’t okay.
I was sick. I can see that now. Even in my current state (130lbs), eating regularly, I find my mind wandering to those places. I’ve recently started taking 5htp, which is a naturally occurring mood balancer. It helps a lot, but one of it’s side effects is a reduction in appetite. I eat when I’m hungry, so if I’m not hungry, I don’t eat. Now comes the time for me to force feed myself, and appreciate that I can be happy in other ways.
My advice for anyone else struggling with disordered eating is to tell someone. You may think that whomever you tell will think you mad, but I assure you, that’s not the case. It’s with mixed emotion that I bond with girls I know who’ve struggled with anorexia or bulimia. You will find a companion to help you through this. Until you do, see your doctor, and remember to grace your lips with food.