Contributing Writer Jessie
I have battled a monster since I was a kid. An ugly, immortal liar of a monster that I will indubitably carry with me for the rest of This monster isn’t one you can see, but you hear it constantly screaming that you aren’t good enough yet; eventually it seizes control. This is a demon of my own design. I truly lost myself. Eating disorders will trick you into seeing things that aren’t there and eradicate all that is dear to you. Had I known that I’d be allowing it to possess me, maybe I would have made different decisions. Maybe I would have, but then again, I probably would have thought, just like most of us do when we are doing something harmful to our body, “Surely, that’ll never happen to me.”. I had this illusion that I could somehow control what was to come. The problem is that when you are in the hollow, there is nothing else. I couldn’t see it coming.
“Dear God, please let me wake up and be someone else.”
I can remember being 7 years old and having had just moved to Georgia, my sister and I had full reign over our brand new, empty house we’d just moved to because our parents were rather busy unloading the moving truck. We went into my mother’s bathroom where we found her scale already unpacked on the floor. Being skinny and 9, my sister was very eager to see how much she’d grown. She steps on. “59! I’m getting big!”, she exclaimed as I dreaded what happened next. She told me it was “my turn” and since when you are a kid, “your turn” is sort of something that you don’t easily say no to. So, I stepped on. My heart broke. That number crushed me. It was so much higher than her number. She was 2 years older! How could this be? That is the first time that I recall feeling ashamed of my body. That was the first time I thought, “I should lose weight.”
I recall starving myself for the very first time like it was just yesterday. I was 11 years old and already hated my body so much. I was on a trip with 50 other gifted middle schoolers out west and I was overcome with the feeling that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, but, mostly, that I was not thin enough.
I remained extremely insecure throughout middle school. At 14, I was a track star, went to all-state for power cleans and squats, conditioned during the off season with the football team, and had every reason to weigh as much as I did because of the sheer amount of muscle that I had. I didn’t see it that way. The guilt, the unwarranted shame, the disgust… I felt that I had no other choice. I could have chosen the healthy way if I wanted to shed some pounds, but I didn’t. I didn’t know that I was about venture into some treacherous waters and change the course of my future.
What no one ever tells you about eating disorders is that you lose yourself. I was a mere shell of a girl. My emotions raged out of control. I began isolating myself from everyone because I didn’t want to be told that what I was doing to myself was wrong. I didn’t believe any of my friends of family about anything. I lived in an obscure reality where I was not killing myself slowly. I believed that they were all liars.
Your brain ceases to function normally when you deprive it from the nutrients that it needs. I don’t remember a lot of my life very clearly. The memories that I do have revolve around my eating disorder. They are more like a movie that I watched years ago or some story that I had been told a few times. My memories are not mine. They belong to my eating disorder.
At 18, I met a boy. We met before graduation at some pot dealers house and latched onto one another. At this point, I had started smoking a lot of weed and had gotten much “better” regarding my intake. However, the second that he complimented my “thick thighs” at dinner one night, I broke down. I, for the very first time, intentionally purged. This memory is all too clear. From there, it began a part of my life that will forever haunt me. As hard as I tried and as much as I wanted to stop, I became addicted to binging and purging. This is a shameful eating disorder. Anoretics look upon those with bulimia as if they are a lower class of eating disorder.
Bulimia, for me, was much more destructive than anorexia. Anorexia and Bulimia are both addictions and disorders, but, while anorexia is quiet and cheap, bulimia is loud, obnoxious, and financially devastating. For a few years, I had no life. I numbed my pain with binging and purging and wasted more money than I ever want to try to calculate. I would buy a hundred dollars of food sometimes in a day, eat it all, feel the shame and disgust, and then throw it all right back up. Just flush my hard earned money into the toilet, essentially.
Although my eating disorder is something that I will always have and always have to be aware of the possibility of it taking over, I have finally stepped away and stopped letting it control me. An eating disorder doesn’t have to be my defining characteristic, but it can be the thing that makes me stronger and definitely has been one of the main reasons why I have become the unique, strong, and amazing person that I have become.
Each of us is different. That being said, no one has the exact same relationship with themself or their eating disorder that I did. It was who I was. I tried Eating Disorders Anonymous, talking to people, etc. and it never did it for me because I wanted to keep it. I loved being thin and thought everyone else was crazy. I know now that I just didn’t want it badly enough. I didn’t ever think about how what I was doing to myself was directly affecting everyone around me so negatively. I never thought about the long term or the adventures and potential life that I was missing out on by allowing something else to run my world. When I finally did think about what I had done, it had been 15 years of me not letting myself have a life. I made a conscious decision to make a change. It has been the single most difficult thing I have had to do. It hasn’t without setbacks, but you pull it back together and trek on.
People always say that eating disorders are about “control” and it use to irritate the hell out of me, but, when it is all said and done, they really are. I had to take responsibility and seize control back in order to get my life back. I am Jessie Black. I am 29 years old, but I just began living.
Contributing Writers Rich Smith, Maggie Kates
SWIFT RIDE is a 4,000+ mile bicycle ride across the USA to raise funds and awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. May 2019.