There are two common types of eating disorders, Bulimia and Anorexia. Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder where you have bouts of overeating followed by fasting or vomiting because you perceive yourself with a distorted body image (usually overweight). Whereas Anorexia Nervosa causes loss of appetite or starvation due to an obsessive need to lose weight. And this is where my story comes in. Eating disorders can be difficult to understand, commonly mistaken for ‘diets’ or ‘healthy eating’, there is a thin line between eating right and starving. Searching for this line is where I lost the plot. What began as a weight loss journey soon turned into a monster that took over my mind. I wouldn’t say I began to fear food, but I surely began to fear the calories that came with it. And that’s how the journey of my eating disorder began.
One summer, at the age of 17, I realised that months of studying for the board exams had caused a huge fluctuation in my weight. I had been so busy buried between books that I hadn’t noticed the chubbiness or the 15 kgs I had gained. Though I wouldn’t say I was fat, I had become considerably heavier than I was. This was my undoing and I gave up eating altogether. Juice was soon my lunch. I started skipping meals hoping nobody would notice and lying to the people around me because I felt guilty if I ate. The heaviness in my chest that came with eating complete meals still haunts me.
After almost a year of living that way, clutching my stomach in pain as I went to sleep hungry because I couldn’t allow myself to eat, just became too much to bear. The flat stomach wasn’t rewarding anymore and hospital visits became regular because my blood pressure and sugar levels were constantly unstable. This was when it hit me. Something was very wrong. I was never the one who read self-help books, in fact, I looked down upon people who did. But everything changed when my dentist (quite unaware of my situation), gave me a book he thought I would love because my parents had casually mentioned my lack of appetite to him.
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay, was the light at the end of my neverending tunnel. The book had a few exercises that seemed insane to most but helped me regain the love for my body. The book asks you to stick affirmations on post-its on your mirror and repeat them to yourself. And the reflection I saw was a chubby overweight child, despite having lost 20 kgs by now, weighing less than I had before I began gaining weight. Slowly and steadily, I fell in love with my reflection, and myself again.
I wouldn’t say the recovery process was easy, I often threw up everything I ate because my body wasn’t used to having a stable diet anymore. As I became healthier, the journey became smoother. Now, five years later, it is a battle I fight every fortnight.
I remember the results from my previous starvation, but my mind is still wired to skip meals and ignore the hunger pangs. I know better now, I hope for better now. The constant reminder of doing better, being better is what keeps me going. While the rest of the world loves eating fast food, my mind calculates the calories within seconds, forcing me to feel guilty about enjoying a meal. I eat now though, proper meals, because this isn’t the end, and I’m definitely winning.