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When Food Takes Control

When Food Takes Control
Writer, 19

FOOD was my best friend.

My eating disorder started right around the time I was 12, but my anger and guilty feelings toward food had started many years before that. I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused from a very young age. I was constantly told that I was a bad little girl, that I was always wrong, and that I deserved all that I had gotten (abuse). Now when I think about it, my disease began when my mother punished me one night and sent me to my room without dinner. I was so hurt and scared by her reaction that when she took away the only thing that I could control (food), I decided I was going to take it back.

Since the age of 10, I was constantly made fun of by the neighborhood boys for being chubby and developing faster than the other girls on my block. I felt angry and ashamed of the way I looked. I began to weigh myself every day, watching the number on the scale get larger and larger. I would cry when it was not lower than the day before, then I would go eat. It never occurred to me why I was using food as a comfort.

Junior high was hell for me. Even though I made the dance team and was able to hang out with the popular kids, I still felt ugly and fat. I would throw away my lunch when I got to school and pretend that I never ate, only to come home and stuff my face. My dance teacher told me that she was not going to allow me to compete or perform in any more shows unless I lost some weight. I had no idea what to do. Food was my best friend; I couldn't give it up. That was when I found my little sneaky way of dealing with it: binging and purging. Although I did not lose a lot of weight, I was still able to eat whatever I wanted and get rid of it before gaining an ounce.

My feelings about my weight in high school were up and down. One minute I was not even thinking about my weight, the next I was hysterically crying because of it. I was overweight and knew it, but I was lazy and the thought of running a mile upset me. I still loved to dance, but I was afraid to try out for the team because of my weight. That was what hurt the most. I was a GREAT dancer, but my body and feelings on my weight prevented me from doing what I wanted.

I was bulimic off and on throughout high school. None of my friends knew of my secret or the way I felt when I was around food. When I started college, my eating disorder went into full force. Seeing so many girls around, all thinner than me, upset me more than anything. I had no desire to be the thinnest person, just to be thin.

A size 8 was no longer good enough for me. I had to be a size 1. I began collecting thinner clothes from stores and hanging them in my closet. My dream was that someday I would be able to wear them. I would always say “Oh wow, look at that outfit! When I lose weight I will wear all those things.” I began to eat alone or hide my food when I went out to eat with friends. Food and the desire to be thin were beginning to take over my life. One day when I purged, I noticed that there was blood in the toilet. I got scared.

I decided to go to a counselor and get help. I met Shelly*, and for the first few sessions we talked about my family. We spoke about the abuse I had suffered, the rapes that I had eventually lost count of, my feelings of neglect and abandonment. I began to see things in a whole new light. My eating disorder was linked to what had happened to me as a child. When I felt alone because I had no one to talk to about what was being done to me, I ran to food. It relaxed me and helped me take my mind off of the abuse that I was suffering.

After seeing Shelly for five months, I dropped out of therapy, convinced that I was okay and able to go on alone. I was wrong. My problems and my eating disorder became worse than ever. My friends began to notice and my parents found evidence of it in my room. Even my pastor at my church knew. I could no longer hide it. I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. The disease had taken over my mind and it controlled me. Thank God for friends. A friend of mine had similar experiences to the ones I had in my past, and she took me to a rape and abuse crisis center. She helped me arrange to see a counselor there and to realize that I was not in this alone. Many people were suffering from issues similar to what I was experiencing.

While I have not been able to see the counselor yet, I am confident that she will help me get through this. I also have great friends who are sticking by my side who will never leave me. Although what happened to me in the past was not my fault, I now realize that I can be a better and much stronger person. I will eventually get through this and be able to help friends or others who are in similar situations. Eating disorders are extremely difficult to deal with. My advice to someone who is suffering from one, or knows someone who is: Be strong and try to get help.

*Name has been changed

Last Modified Date: 1/10/2001
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