Not even a week ago, something happened that left me frightened. While in bed, sound asleep, I woke up to have what can be called a seizure; I thrashed and flailed about for what I would say ten minutes. I don’t remember specifics or what I was thinking or feeling, but when I woke up the next morning, my entire right arm was numb, which is why drawing has been somewhat hard recently. The root of the seizure is something that I have been struggling with for a long time now – 8 years – but because of what happened last week, I decided to be more candid about it.
I grew up a very chubby girl, and grew into an obese teen. My friends were a little more than rude, it was hard having skinny friends making fun of overweight people when we hung out – calling them whales – laughing behind their backs – I felt awful.
I was that girl in elementary school, secretly wishing she could look like the popular students, yearning for blond hair, blue eyes, and zero fat on my body. I was that girl who would look into the mirror, and smile to see if she looked pretty, or turn her head to see what she looked like at different angles. I would grab at my chub, and wish it was muscle. I fell into the media hype, I wanted that American Dream – I wanted perfection. I was that girl who was influenced by the wrong ideas – the idea that thin was beautiful, and I could not be beautiful without being thin. I couldn’t handle being the fat girl, the girl nobody wanted, the girl I saw in the mirror. I was the girl who took the joke personally. And the last straw that started it all was the comment I got from my first boyfriend: “She’s as big as a house.”
I couldn’t handle giving up food, so I went the destructive route, and quickly became bulimic.
Bulimia proved to be difficult at first; throwing up is never pleasant, whether it is provoked by the flu, or self induced. But I quickly got over it, and it became routine. For years, I would purge my food as much as 30 to 60 times daily, without telling anyone. I felt like I was getting away with something, as long as I hid it, and as long as I stopped before it became out of control, I would be fine.
Negative eighty pounds later, I couldn’t stop. My weight fluctuated, my hair started falling out, my skin became blemished, my eyes were dark and puffy, my teeth rotted, my heart often pumped irregularly, there were bite marks and scars on my hands, where my teeth would clench into my skin when I was purging. The consequences were not light or subtle, but I didn’t stop, my mentality was so extreme that I would rather die than become fat again. Even the incentive of death was not powerful enough to tame my disorder.
As recently as last year, I sought help for my disorder after having frequent fainting spells. I have tamed my disorder, but it’s never over. Reintroducing food into your system can sometimes shock it – causing seizures sometimes, or sometimes panic attacks. The hardest parts are my thoughts, the ones that keep telling me I am fat and ugly, the ones that remind me of the cruel kids in high school who wouldn’t leave me alone. And the media. The media was the worst influence on me. But I have worked hard at it, and have gotten much better about accepting myself and realizing that I was beautiful all along, fat or no fat, blond hair or black hair, blue eyes or green eyes – my personality overrides those things. But it took almost 8 years to get over these things, and by then, harm had already been done.
What am I saying to my readers is, if you struggle with something, if your self esteem is low, do not, DO NOT, give up on yourself. Accept yourself the way you are, and realize that you can be happy even in grim situations. You can be happy with what you have. Surround yourself with good people, genuine people you trust. Remember material things do not matter. Money is good, and hard to come by in this economy, but people are the ones that matter. People can talk to you, love you, hold you, and be there for you. Money and material things could not solve my problem, only loving, caring people could do that. I promise you that.
If you are being destructive, and you know it and think you are getting away with something, you aren’t. There are always consequences to what you do, and some things are irreversible. My arm has not regained feeling, and my hair never grew back to what it was. I spent an ungodly amount of money fixing my teeth, if I had only realized sooner that appearance does not define who I am, I could have avoided many physical ailments.
More importantly is, we are not going to be young forever. We are all going in the same direction, which is getting older, getting gray, and getting saggy. Enjoy your youthful looks if you’d like, but it will not last.
Even if only one person reads this post, and it inspires them and takes something positive away from this, I will be a happy that I shared. And if you are on the bullying side, don’t ever think that your words or actions will not influence someone. You never know what is going to hurt someone, or not affect them at all.