I was genetically predisposed to anxiety and eating disorders. Intensive bullying also played a major role, but I think having a very emotional and sensitive personality ultimately made me vulnerable. I was extremely shy, had social anxiety, and was easily upset by small things like getting an answer wrong in school or having my behavior corrected by a teacher or parent of a friend. I remember as a kid, those things rarely happened because I tried so hard to be a good kid. But when they did, it shattered me to my core and would send me into panic attacks and uncontrollable crying.
In middle school, I endured some really intense bullying because I was feminine and gay, although I didn’t realize that I was gay at the time. I couldn’t understand why my femininity was the reason people didn’t like me. That never clicked in my mind, and still doesn’t. So instead, I started feeling really stupid, really ugly, gross, annoying. Even though I wasn’t. But in my mind, there had to be a reason that most of my school hated me, and it couldn’t really be because I act feminine. I clenched my jaw and suffered through those years, resulting in a very damaged self-esteem and body image. In high school, I started restricting food intake to manage stress and anxiety. I was absolutely unaware of what I was doing. I didn’t think of it as restricting my food intake. I just was anxious all the time and had no appetite. I felt very uncomfortable and embarrassed when eating around other people, so I fully avoided doing so. Eating felt more like a nuisance than anything. I’d rather drink coffee and keep socializing with my friends. Because when I had a couple friends with me, I was safe from bullies. And I clung to them like super glue. I did all of my eating late at night if I stayed at home. However, being that super glue friend that I was, I was often crashing at a friend’s house.
After high school, all my friends had gone their own ways, as what usually happens after graduating. And then I had split up with my boyfriend at the time. For me, who had been severely dependent on having safe people around me at all times, being alone was intolerable. It was intolerable and I felt like I lost all purpose in my life. I was also having some digestive difficulties, somewhat of a result of my unhealthy eating patterns. And that was the point that I started spiraling out of control. I started cutting out food groups, restricting my intake, and taking laxatives. I stopped leaving my home. Again, I did not view this as an eating disorder. Before I knew it, I was trapped in a dark dungeon known as Anorexia. I was starving and heavily addicted to laxatives. It all happened so fast, in a matter of months, I went from having eating disorder tendencies, to having a severe eating disorder. My mind got so locked into this. And my mind was so rapid and persistent. I could not slow down the racing thoughts of insults and obsessions. And I couldn’t seem to stop myself from descending further into it and picking up more purging behaviors.
I was lucky enough to find a really amazing treatment program that took my insurance. Over the years, I went into inpatient treatment three times, but the first time was the major turning point for me. And after that, it was just years of slowly climbing my way back out of the metaphorical hole that I had dug. I was also lucky enough to have a very loving and supportive family my whole life. Treatment also taught me the ability to socialize again. I used that and was able to make some very good friends. I see it more as a fateful intervention. These people became as close as family members to me. It took many years of treatment, support from friends and family, and hard mental work. Constant mental work. I realized that I needed to reprogram my mind, and it takes a lot of willpower, force, soul searching, self-love/nurturing, and enduring a lot of discomfort and confusion.
It’s hard, and you don’t always have the motivation. Not knowing if there even is a light at the end of the tunnel was very discouraging for me. I’m here to tell anyone who reads this that there is. I found it. It’s real, it’s beautiful, and it’s relief. I hope someone reads this and finds hope in it. Hope is real, recovery is real, and living again is possible. I have been in recovery now for six years, and I still don’t take a minute of it for granted. I really can’t express in words how good it feels to be able to eat stress-free. I still have days where I need to work on it a little bit, and I still have some medical problems as a result of it. But for the most part, I do enjoy eating, and the feeling of warmth and life that it gives me.
I am a 31 years old, married, gay, white, male.