It is painful, it is life-threatening and yet if you have it, you will not believe it if other people tell you. Anorexia is horrible and it makes you suffer and hurts the people around you. I was anorexic when I was a teenager, but I fully recovered.
This blog is not about how girls are pressured to be thin by media as anorexia can also be very complex and has a lot of other reasons that start it. This blog is just about sharing, my own experience, which I hope can help someone who wants to get help…
Between the age of 15 and 17 I was anorexic. What I now think could have triggered it was my ballroom coach who called me and other girls cows (I was 12 at a time and was never big or even chubby). Then when I started my transformation from a girl into a woman, I gained some weight and girls in my class kept mentioning that I gained weight so I set a goal of losing some. It started off with a very innocent work out, healthy even, right? But then it turned into too much working out: jogging in the morning, swimming in the afternoon followed by 2 hours in the gym. I started restricting what I ate and kilograms started disappearing, and by the time I got too thin I was promising myself that it would be just one more kilo and then I will start eating normally. But I never seemed to come to that point. When I would reach 50, I would want to be 49 kg, at 49, 48 and so on.
Then my ballroom dancing partner died in a motorcycle accident on my birthday and his death was very hard on me. It was not the reason why I was restricting, but it did cause a lot of stress for a 15 year old that I was. I was very skinny, clearly unhealthy looking and people even started asking my parents if I was sick.
By then it was time for me to go for an exchange year to the US. I was one of the lucky 168 Ukrainian students chosen out of 10000 participants who won a scholarship to go to the US for a year for free. There I was restricting even more. I reached my lowest weight ever and that was the lowest point of my anorexia story. At 170 cm (5’7) I weighed 41 kg (89 lbs). Anorexia was taking over my life. I was busy counting calories, dreaming of the cakes and chocolates and fattening food that I did not allow myself to eat. My hair started falling out, I got to the point when I looked in the mirror and I got scared. I asked my foster mother for help. I was sent back to Ukraine to get better and God knows I am so glad I did. I could have died if I continued…
In Ukraine I gained some weight but was still quite skinny. I graduated high school with distinctions (in Ukraine you get a gold medal for excellent academic performance upon graduating high school). Because of that I got a 100% scholarship at the Concordia International University Estonia. I went to Tallinn, Estonia and embraced the college life. I did not have time any more for counting calories and obsessing about restricting. I was too busy studying, going out, enjoying student life and falling in love. The obsession went away and till now, I appreciate being able to feel healthy again, to be able to enjoy food that I like and feel good about myself. I do not have a recipe of how to get well from an eating disorder. I guess I was lucky that for me it was a phase and that I discovered that there is so much more to life than counting calories and losing weight. I try to live healthy, be fit and enjoy my life now, cause we only live once and I know I will never be anorexic again as life is too precious.
I know some people who have an eating disorder and I realize that nothing I or anyone else would say would make them decide to seek help till they want it themselves, but the least I can do is share with others what happened to me and how blessed I am that it ended well.