Thursday, May 01, 2014

Dealing with ED

So for those of you who don't know, I suffered from anorexia one or two years back (not very sure of the "start" and "end" points per se, it's really hard to pin-point a change in attitude and mindset). You could say I was self-diagnosed and went through self-recovery, so I guess my experience would not be considered very "legit", as in having to be hospitalized etc. I'm not writing this for the sake of gaining attention or sympathy or whatever, it's more of just something I really feel I want to get off my chest and you know...maybe I'll learn more about myself/what I want for myself by the time I'm done writing this post. (I confess that as of now, I have no idea where I'm going with this)

The beginning:


If there was to be a start-point, this would be (kinda) it!


Or this...sorry the poses are a little strange. But you can see how big my thighs and calves were! Not to mention bingo wings, ew.


Body-image issues were always a big problem for me (no pun intended). I wasn't exactly fat but more of chubby. It wasn't any help as well that all my friends were super fit and gorgeous. Portion control and nutrition was totally alien to me and I ate whatever I wanted. Granted, I did exercise but it was only a once-a-week-swim-at-the-club sort of thing, and I hated it. So in Secondary 2, when we learnt about how you lose weight when your Input < Output, it lit an idea in my head. I decided that since I hated exercising, I should go on a strict diet to lose weight!!! I started to skip recess, then lunch in school. It was very easy to do that because that was the period where I also realized I had to up my game, academically. I would spend recesses and lunch breaks in class doing my homework/revising school work and be really productive. That meant less work to do at home, and overall schoolwork was much less of a burden for me. Add to that, I was losing about 0.5kg a week! All this seemed perfect at the time and I genuinely thought that I was doing the best for me.


This was about three or four months in.

Where it starts to get a bit out-of-hand:
By this point, I was eagerly weighing myself weekly and feeling euphoric as I saw the numbers continually drop down. It got to a stage where I was literally obsessed with my weight and would feel like crap if I gained just 0.1kg!!! How whacked up is that?!?! You see, what I didn't know then was that weight loss was not equivalent to fat loss, and I thought that by losing weight, I could obtain a super fit and toned body. Anyway, I decided that I wanted quicker results, and so to expedite this process, I started to exercise more frequently. I got involved in Blogilates and also ran and swam during the weekends. My weekends were basically band>swim>study>sleep>church>run>study>sleep. It was a convenient cycle and one that allowed me to lose weight and produce consistently good results in school (please don't punch me). It's not a lot but it was enough to keep the numbers dropping off. I felt really really great about myself, except for one thing: I didn't have much of a social life.

When you spend most of your time between classes studying in the classroom and not in the canteen, you miss out on the opportunity to mingle with other people. Also, because I used homework/studying to distract me from the temptation of food, many of my schoolmates were under the impression that I was a mugger and because I was perpetually stone-faced (when you're hungry you really have no energy to be happy and approachable etc. all the time), I was labelled as "snobbish". Granted, I did have a close bunch of friends (love you Jamie) whom I could count on to make my otherwise dull day, but they were mostly from other classes with other friends of their own. So I guess you could say I felt pretty alone. It was terrible, knowing that many people don't particularly like you and...well it was really nasty, and I really wished no one would ever have to go through the same social insecurity/etc. as me but I guess this happens a lot and it's difficult to fix completely.

Even then, I still persisted in my dieting and decided to completely cut off the social aspect of my school life since by this point in time (end Sec 3/early Sec 4), I couldn't really fit into a clique or anything. (Big mistake, one that I'm still regretting today) Furthermore, I remember one of my classmates (I don't know if we're friends LOL now you see how pathetic I was) telling me that this girl (who had a pretty hod bod herself) said I had really nice legs hahahaha. A lot of people also started commenting on how much weight I lost and some even looked to me as inspiration for their own fitness journeys...I was so flattered and this was further motivation to continue my unhealthy habits. The thing about anorexia is, you see a heavily distorted image of yourself. I couldn't see the skinny girl that everyone else saw. Instead, what I saw every day in the mirror were the damned fats that were between myself and the "perfect body" I had imagined.


Quite an unglam photo but you can see how big my band uniform is as well as my elbow-bone-thing jutting out (contrast with me wearing the same shirt below)


This was just a few months back. Can you tell the difference!



Band uniform definitely looks big here because it was. It was so big, I had to fold my skirt multiple times in order not to let it drop, and that's really saying something because the skirt even had an elastic band at the waist! The band uniform was tailored for us in Secondary 1 so this shows how much I've slimmed down since then. :(/:)???


Diagnosis/Recovery:
I don't really know if it counts as being diagnosed per se, but this was the time when I started to question if I might have been suffering from anorexia. I happened to stumble upon a few Instagram accounts of Singaporean girls who were recovering from various EDs (anorexia, bulimia, etc.) Reading their blog entries, looking at what they ate, I drew strikingly similar parallels between myself and them. A look at my food diary (I kept track of what I ate every day and counted each minuscule calorie) drew me back to reality. I was eating less than 500 kcals a day, which is way below the recommended 2000 kcals for the average woman. I also had fear foods and struggled a lot with eating (mentally). I felt really really tired and somehow, someday, I just started not to care. I don't really know when or why I decided to snap out of this unhealthy phase of my life. I just did. I am truly thankful that I had much less of a struggle recovering as compared to the other ED-recovering girls I met through Instagram. I guess it could be attributed to the fact that it was my O-Level year, and I really did not want my psycho fears of food and weight gain to screw up my studies. (Because I starved myself through the school day, I was plagued by hunger pangs and gastric pains in school and it really affected my concentration levels/mood/etc.) So I decided that for the sake of my results, I should start having normal eating habits again.


About two months into "recovery". What strikes me most about this photo is that the same pair of shorts now just fits me. This is really triggering. :-/


Toned forearms...goodbye :'(

All through my recovery period, I did not step on the weighing scale. It was just too painful to watch the numbers that I spent so much effort losing come back. I went from being 59 kg to 48 kg and now, I'm back to pre-ED weight. (I'm 170cm tall so I guess this is an acceptable weight?)


That's me after I gained back a bit of the weight. Quite sad, actually.
(Also, featuring Sara's controversial "neck-candy" hahahaha)

Moving on:
Or not.
So this is really the main reason I wrote this post. Right now, I'm struggling with these body-image issues again. It's much worse now in a co-ed school because you feel so judged by the guys and all...it's so frustrating, I'm just like please take me back to the nunnery!!!11!!!111!!1! Ok I exaggerate, they aren't all that bad. It's mostly self-induced I guess. I keep looking back at photos of myself when I was in that "dark" (was it really that bad???) period and thinking of how much I wished I could become the girl I was then. I know it's really unhealthy, and we should all strive to lose weight healthily etc. but this method is just so much faster??? And proven to be effective too because tbh I think I looked great then! :-( The only drawback is that it isn't sustainable. Also, when you starve yourself for an extended period of time, your body's metabolism becomes super messed up, making it easier for you to gain weight once you resume normal eating patterns. The body also starts to store more fat as it believes that you are in "starvation mode". I guess this is how I gained back all the weight so quickly.



Latest full-body-ish shot haha this was about two or three months ago? I can see all the definition in my muscle all hidden by fats now. :-( It's really troubling because I'm torn between food (YUM!) and looking like how I used to...I'll confess that I did try to go back to my unhealthy dieting habits a few weeks ago but it didn't work out very well. I'm just really disappointed how I lost control so easily and gained back all the weight I worked so hard to lose, AND MORE. I really hoped I would have somehow gotten some epiphany by the end of this post which would tell me what I ought to do but no, guess things just don't work out the way you want it to.

Oh well.




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