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From little comments, mighty issues grow

by Emma
(London, UK)

My eating issues started officially when I was 12. It was a chance comment by my father, to the effect of 'You're looking a little podgy. You should go on a diet.'
I was 5'3'', weighed x lbs. My BMI was technically in normal range. But I looked in the mirror, and I just saw fat, like I had never seen before. My face was round, I had several chins, and my stomach was far from flat. I 'looked' about x lbs, and hated it!

I started dieting 'normally' - I cut out sweets, chocolates, fizzy drinks, ice cream, etc from my diet for the month of June. I lost x lbs. But it wasn't enough. I became anorexic, or 'borderline' so, since I had no official diagnosis. But, by the time I was 14, I was 5'5'', and weighed x lbs. I still felt fat, but I subsisted off minimal food, between x calories a day. I was miserable. I also self-harmed, but that too was a temporary fix to a permanent issue - a coping mechanism, if you will.

During that time I was also physically and sexually assaulted. The perpetrator was jailed eventually, but I had scars both inside and out that were really not what my fragile self needed on top of an already shaky facade.

One day, everything changed. My friends took me out for a movie, then a meal. I ate that entire bowl of rice and vegetables. After years of restricting, the sheer delight of food in my system made me giddy. I got home, and made myself a second lunch. I ate it, and had seconds for the first time in my life. I then had dessert. And seconds of that. Then a packet of sweets. A slab of chocolate. I ate for probably an hour solid. Then I came to my senses with an aching stomach and a feeling of 'what the **** happened here?'. I promptly freaked out, felt really sick, then rushed to the toilet and threw up until I bled. Oops.

I had no idea what I had just done. But I had felt sick from the food, and throwing up made me feel better. I could still eat, I just had to throw it back up. A new monster was born. Bulimia.

It took over my life. It started with a binge and purge every day or other day. But it rapidly escalated to several times a day. Then I reached the point where I couldn't even keep little meals down. A handful of grapes? No way. A stick of celery? Tempting, but it had to go. Even diet soda went straight down the toilet. I was only allowed water, enough to take my diet and water pills, or the occasional handful of laxatives when I felt I hadn't got every last calorie out.

I continued in this fashion for about 3 more years. Aged 17, (5 months ago) I attempted suicide (via overdose and 1 deep cut) because even though the scale said xlbs, the mirror said x. I lost it entirely, I wanted out. My roommate S found me (I went to a boarding school) and having woken me up, cut class the next day to take me by train to my home GP. We both knew the staff at school would make things worse, and then just tell my parents to further stir the issues. S held me as I cried and confessed everything to poor Dr V, my wonderful and long-suffering GP, while totally undermining the 8-minute slot that GPs are meant to adhere to in England. Sorry about that, really.

Dr V sent me to an adolescent psychiatry outpatient appointment with both a psychiatrist and a psychologist. With recently developing mental episodes of unknown origin, combined with a snarled mess of anorexic thoughts but bulimic behaviours, they refused to diagnose me. I wanted to get better, and the ******* wouldn't label me and fix me! I was hopping mad, and didn't tell anyone. S had forgotten about my little episode, so I was alone.

Unfortunately, the doctors called my parents. They didn't tell them anything I had confessed, but the mere fact that a unit 'like that' was involved with 'someone like me' made my mother in particular, very upset. Both my parents claimed to love me unconditionally, but they refused to see I needed help, claiming that 'I was just tired - I needed a good breakfast and a solid night's rest'. My mother even said to me 'I don't think you have a problem. You're too fat to be sick.'

Oh how I hated her for that comment! Sitting here at my lowest weight - xlbs - typing this at 2am whilst fighting the urge to binge, I hope and pray that I will get a diagnosis and treatment. I recognise and accept that there may well be underlying issues as well as the food shenanigans, but so long as I get better, I don't care what's wrong with me. Self-control only works so well - I have been self-harm free for nearly 5 weeks now. But my eating disorder needs to go. And I'll do whatever it takes to recover.

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