Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. I didn’t know its dangerous consequences till I experienced it myself. I didn’t know I was struggling with an eating disorder until it started damaging my other areas of life along with my health.
I was 19 years old and wanted to look slim and socially admirable. I suddenly started counting calories, weighing food, and obsessively planning meals. I started taking action to control the number of calories entering the body. I was even avoiding specific foods because of their calories/ nutrients like fats and carbs. I was extremely cautious about my body weight. I didn’t know when and how, but slowly, it was turning into an obsession. I started being obsessed with food. I even started taking laxatives to purge excess calories and would stare at the bathroom mirror, then gather the courage to trigger gagging and then puke.
I noticed rapid weight loss without any medical reason. (It is important to note that not all eating disorders involve weight loss - some individuals may struggle with other forms of disordered eating that do not result in significant changes in weight/ cause weight gain).
When I stared at the mirror I saw something that I hated profoundly. I did not like what I see. I was only focusing on my weight, shape, and appearance. I used to constantly check my reflection, measure my body, and compare myself to others. I started to set goals to change the way I look, including a reduction in my weight. As time passed, I started avoiding certain food groups and ate at only specific times of the day. I tried over-exercising to burn whatever calories I had consumed in a day. I limited my calorie intake to an extreme level.
I started to withdraw from social activities or relationships as I felt ashamed of my behaviors and feared judgment or criticism from others. Even my family started getting worried for me but I just brushed it off by giving some reasons for it. All this started to impact my mental health. I would be agitated at times and numb at others. I soon developed extreme anxiety and avoided everything I felt uncomfortable with.
It was after a few months that one of my friends, a student of psychology noticed my behavior and severe weight loss and pushed me to confess everything that I’m going through. It was only then that I understood I was developing an eating disorder. She made me seek help from a qualified mental health professional. Slowly and gradually I started to understand my thoughts and my own perception of things. I learned that eating disorders can be treated with the help of a qualified provider and support from our loved ones. Remember, You are not alone. Recovery is possible; seeking help is the first step toward healing.