Starting my grade 10 year, I had my sights set on receiving athletic honors at my school, qualifying for Junior World Swimming Championships and generally becoming legendary.
As I went through my Grade 10 year, I started feeling a lot of pressure in the academic, sport and social spheres. Self-inflicted, most of this pressure, but holding-up-the-world kind of pressure, nonetheless. I’m not going to pinpoint specific reasons and say, “This what caused my brain to have a year-long meltdown, so avoid this at all costs”, because I cannot say for sure what caused my Anorexia. But I’m going to share my story, with all the aspects included, in the hopes that it both gives me light and helps some of you along the way. Also, I feel like it will make an entertaining read because I have some funny stories to share (mind you, they’re only funny in hindsight. At the time they were positively traumatizing).
Anyway back to Grade 10. So at the beginning of the year, I started to become more aware of my body. It didn’t start negatively, I just began to notice certain things. I was a teenage girl after all, and comparing myself to those in my school, on my swim team and all over Instagram was kind of inevitable.
I started to notice that my shoulders were quite large and that I could probably beat a few boys in an arm-wrestling match. I noticed my stomach was not flat, but after all, it did house my internal organs which were quite vital to survival. I noticed my thighs jiggled when I walked, but I needed these legs for my powerful swimming kick. I started to notice these things but had logical reasons for why they appeared as they did. They each came with important jobs, so I didn’t mind them. However, as the year went on, I became more and more fixated on these aspects of my body and started to forget those important jobs and logical reasons that they were there. Instead of thanking my body for being strong and powerful, I started to dislike that I was less petite and feminine than many of my friends. Thus started the period of “Eating Healthily” to see what it would do. The furthest back I can remember, starting to become picky about my food, was the day of my 16th birthday. I went out to lunch with my friends. They ordered burgers and fries. I had a salad.
At first, this was very innocent. I was a girl who loved food and wouldn’t say no to a McDonald’s burger and fries, or a packet of chocolate eggs when offered. I decided to take a break from eating foods that weren’t, in my opinion at the time, “healthy or nutritious”. Bear in mind, I was a mere 16 years old and had absolutely no knowledge about nutrition. I just went with what sounded the healthiest.
So first of all, I decided not to eat processed food. Now, this was not too difficult, because I just didn’t go to any fast food places or eat any sweets. No one questioned my motives. In fact, many people praised me for eating so well. After all, it is better to not eat these foods right?
I guess having some kind of control around something in my life, during this period when so much was changing, gave me a sense of safety and security. When my social life, my body, my values, and beliefs were all changing, I found a clutch in controlling food.
It started slowly, like falling asleep, and then all at once, I was in the middle of a full-blown eating disorder. But we’ll get to that.