Megan: Stuck in Neutral. (A girl’s struggle w/ depression and anorexia)

An excerpt from my book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image

I see self-esteem as how I perceive myself in relation to others and if I see myself as pretty or fat or smart. It has to do with whether I’m confident or not.

For me, my biggest issue is weight. I was obese, clinically. I also struggled with depression and went to a therapist who gave me medication. It didn’t help that I was teased throughout school. Like in sixth grade this guy I thought was my friend asked me out, but then on the bus he told everybody it was a big joke. He told them that he thought it was funny I said yes. Can you imagine how much that crushed me? You don’t just get over something like that.

I lost like 40 pounds the summer between eighth and ninth grade. I started swimming and ate healthier, but then I began to exhibit all the textbook symptoms of anorexia. I mostly ate trail mix. I would eat those all-natural bars – Think Thin bars – but I would eat them as a whole meal. For dinner I would have an apple with peanut butter. I would count calories and keep a food journal. At the end of the day I’d look through it and be like, “Oh, I had too many of this.”

I don’t do that anymore. I know I can’t go back there, but I think about it every time I eat. Can you imagine struggling every single time you’re hungry? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks – wanting food so badly, but not wanting it at the same time? Now I have healthy eating patterns, but people have to talk to me or distract me so I don’t know how much I’m taking in. The hard part is as I gain the weight back, I see myself as I was before. Even though I’m a healthy weight now, when I look in the mirror I feel like I’m obese compared to where I was when I was anorexic.

I think about body image a lot subconsciously, and I shouldn’t. Hopefully when I get older I won’t be surrounded by people who talk about stuff like that all the time. I feel like if they wouldn’t talk about it then I wouldn’t fixate on it so much.

When I think of what makes me happy, eating is the first thing that comes to mind. Isn’t that sad? In fact, during this whole conversation, the mention of food is the only thing that will make me smile.

Literally.

Unfortunately, I’m the person who loves food but it doesn’t love me. Then I have no choice but to hate it back. Food helped me through some difficult times though. When I was younger, I would “eat my feelings” if I was sad. Now instead of eating a lot I just have like a spoonful and dip it in ice cream, just to taste it. But there’s still this fat child within me that has that feeling, that longing. It’s the fat child that just ate and ate whenever her parents fought.

My mom and I are close but I don’t have a relationship with my dad at all. He leaves early for work, gets home late and eats dinner in a separate room. We just never really had a good relationship.

I guess he never really cared.

I don’t know.

I just accept it now.

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The story of Cindy: As Perfect as Possible.

Excerpt from Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image 

The story of Cindy: As Perfect as Possible.

Like a year ago – I never really had anyone to talk to so I would bottle things up. That’s really unhealthy and I would explode and have really bad mood swings and really bad, um, depression. I’ve been struggling with depression for like eeeeever. Lately I had my worst depression – my WORST. I call it the “depression abyss.” I realized I really needed help from my parents. I think they knew I was sad sometimes, but not THAT depressed. I mean, I come off as really bubbly and positive when I’m just hanging out or having a conversation.

When I told my mom and dad, I was shaking. I didn’t know what their reaction would be. I was always scared to tell them because I thought they would send me to a mental hospital and get all crazy. But they didn’t. They were really supportive and so now I go to see a therapist every week (or more!). Biiiiig, big step.
What knocked me down enough to seek help? Um, well, I was actually dealing with an eating disorder and a drug issue. Now I’m being treated for both of them. Yeah, that was a HUGE step too! Oh my God, that was craaazy!

Even though I get depressed, I am like the fun party girl. I’m the one that’s like, “Heeeey everybody! Let’s go party today. I know this place.” Like I’m the girl pulling everyone else in. I’m not the one feeling peer pressure; I’m the one passing it around.

All that fun and partying got serious on New Year’s Eve though. I was dealing with bad family issues on top of everything else. I was in the middle mood-wise and then I just dropped. I overdosed. I don’t remember much. I was seizing and my eyes were rolling back. My friends were like, “OK, we’ll give you ‘til 5:30 am and if you don’t snap out of this then we’re going to the hospital,” and by 5:30 I was sleeping. Crazy, right?!

My drug of choice? Um…probably ecstasy. But I used to do like five different drugs at the same time. And I’m tiny. That’s another thing – I don’t like it when people assume the anorexia is because of my body. I’ve always been really skinny. I know I’m really skinny! The anorexia was definitely a control thing. It was like counting calories because I can control counting. It’s mathematical. Anorexia is so tangible. It’s right there………..

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Smile and Mean It. A Sure Way to Improve Self-Esteem.

Guest blog by Monica Carbone

My mom has a quote written in blue marker on her mirror in her bedroom. It says: “Wake up in the morning, smile, and mean it”. She used to tell me when I was younger that that was her goal. Back then, I never completely understood how you could smile and not mean it, until I battled my eating disorder, depression, self harm, and anxiety. Now, I’ve made it my goal too.

When I was 12, and for the following ten years, I hated myself. Every time I looked in the mirror, it was like I was in a fun house. I would stare at myself, blink really hard, close my eyes, shake my head, open my eyes, and the distortion was still there. I pinched and pulled and squeezed my body, often crying, and wishing to be different. Wishing to be thin…even though I truly was. My eating disorder was my way of punishing myself for not being perfect, a way to stay in control, a way to deal with changes and incidents I couldn’t quite cope with.

I was secretive, constantly lying and making excuses, especially when it came to avoiding food. I had mastered putting on a brave face, a happy face, and acting like everything was fine when in reality I was crumbling. I was spiralling downward, and after ten years, at age 22, I finally saw that what I was doing to myself was slowly killing me. I got angry. My eating disorder had taken away pieces of my life that I would never get back again, and I had enough. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I put myself into treatment, and decided to learn to love myself.

It was hard. It was probably the hardest I have ever worked in my entire life. I had to undo years of damage that my eating disorder had caused my body, and especially my mind. I had to really get to the root of why my eating disorder started, and learn to cope in healthy ways. I hated it at first, all the crying in therapy, breaking down, feeling weak, feeling like I was giving up “my best friend” who got me through rough patches. Then I realized that my eating disorder wasn’t getting me through tough times, it was my tough time.

Now, 3 years later, I’m me again. I’ve found things that I love about myself, like my silliness, my nurturing personality, my optimism, my fight. And you know what? None of those things change with how much I weigh. The numbers don’t matter. I matter. My happiness matters. Not everyday is easy by any means, but I work hard so that it becomes a little more natural each morning to wake up, smile, and mean it.