EATING DISORDER, OR ERI, is a medical condition traditionally underestimated in severity. According to statistics , one person in the world dies from RPE every hour, and women account for 90 percent of all cases. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate due to mental disorders, with five to six percent of all patients fatal . There are many causes for an eating disorder , but one of the key risk factors is diet cravings, which many women prescribe for themselves, without first talking to specialists.
Today, project manager Lera told us her story of fighting anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
I was severely beaten at the age of six. I went out for a walk and swing on a swing, and a twelve-year-old girl with her friends dragged me into the forest and began to kick me. They pushed me, beat me with sticks, threw me into nettles and hit my head on concrete. I tried to run away, but every time they caught up with me. Probably, this happens to many, but not everyone takes it so personally. Well, we had a fight, anything can happen. I have always been a very vulnerable child and I still remember this day in detail, I scroll it in my head.
When I was eight years old, my grandmother died in my arms. From early childhood I studied music, but I didn’t like classes: I taped the piano with tape and threw the notes out the window. I was forced to study through tears. When we once again quarreled about music with my mother, my grandmother’s blood pressure rose. Three hours later, when we were in bed with her, she died. My mom blamed me for my grandmother’s death. I remember it well now and I am still worried.
Hangouts and groups of friends are not about me
At the age of eleven, I was sent to a children’s ensemble, where I faced bullying and bullying. It was difficult for me in a large company, I could not answer – I was a very shy child. I’ve always been introverted, sometimes sociophobic. I loved to be alone, and I was constantly immersed in an atmosphere of “joy” in which I did not want to exist at all. Parties and groups of friends are still not about me.
At the same time, I was experiencing a serious illness of my father – at this time I became deeply religious. I was always alone: my family did not support me, and there were no friends. The only support I could find at that time was faith. I started going to church, reading books. Every evening I would light a candle and read prayers. I was looking for at least some kind of support, I didn’t know where to turn. I needed to cry and tell someone about my feelings. I went to church, but I hid it even from my parents. Now I am an atheist, and in my case, my fascination with religion came from vulnerability.
When I was seventeen years old, a man abused me. We communicated very well with him, I liked him. He was seven years older than me. One day he called me to his home and handcuffed me to the bed. He started bullying me and then tried to have sex. I cried and struggled, but he would not let me go. He threw away the key from the handcuffs and, laughing, told me to look for him in the apartment. After that, he let me go, and then I didn’t communicate with him anymore. I still feel ashamed and cannot talk about it because of the reaction of those around me: “you yourself came to his apartment”, “how did it happen that he even took handcuffs in his hands” and so on. Even when I discussed this story with psychotherapists, I heard these remarks from them. I think that most of my problems with sex, with worries and tightness, perhaps, are related to this experience.
My parents adhere to a conservative value system and raised me in fairly strict conditions. I was told that a woman should be a married “hearth keeper” surrounded by children. All the women in my family are housewives, they are “for a husband”. Until I was twenty-one, I spent all my free time with them, and in which case I had to be at home at ten in the evening. My first serious relationship began at the same age, and after a long time I was allowed to move in with a man – in the hope that I would sooner marry him and have children.
I did not understand what I wanted, because I lived as if at the behest of those around me. In fact, I didn’t even have the opportunity to think about what I want. I was not given freedom. I was not allowed to travel alone, as I always wanted. But now I do not blame my parents for anything, I love them. I understand that they have their own history, their own past. But I resisted such attitudes, because I wanted to go the other way.
As a child, I was an extremely unattractive girl: skinny, with braces and glasses, weak, painful. I always fell in love unrequitedly, I never succeeded, active and cheerful blondes were popular. I was constantly asked: “Lera, why are you so sad? Did something happen to you? “,” Lera, smile, why are you so thoughtful? ” At first I replied: “I’m fine, I’m not sad.” Then it added: “I’m not sad, I’m serious.” At university and at work, my introversion and closeness were often mistaken for arrogance. Shyness is often confused with arrogance, but this supposed self-confidence is only a defensive reaction. Such a cocoon in which I feel comfortable among others.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my mother has always been very cold. I still feel guilt and resentment for the fact that we never said words to each other about love, never hugged each other. I have never heard warm and tender words addressed to me. I still try to let it go, but it hurts that I didn’t have a sincere and close relationship with my mom. I think that self-esteem depends primarily on relationships with loved ones. The external environment affects self-confidence in a different way than family.
About anorexia and bulimia
At the age of sixteen, my body changed: it became more rounded, breasts appeared, I took off the braces and, it would seem, should have felt the attention from men – although now I consider it absurd to wait for it. But there was no attention, and many did not understand how with my appearance you can be insecure or not have a boyfriend. I grew up in an environment that recognized success, popularity and outward beauty.
At the age of nineteen, I decided to lose weight and get closer to “that very ideal” so that someone would love me. I was driven by the perfectionism that my parents instilled in me. I went to the clinic, where I was advised fractional meals: I ate every three hours, five times a day. At first, my diet was 1200 kilocalories per day, but then I realized that this is a lot – and reduced the rate to 900. Everything came to the point that during the day I ate a spoonful of oatmeal in water and an apple. So from 60 kilograms I lost weight to 51, but my periods disappeared, my hair fell out, my nails and teeth deteriorated.
People around me noticed that I lost weight, but at some point I simply could no longer function normally – and began to eat back. The kilograms came back due to compulsive overeating: I literally stuffed food into myself. Moreover, she was healthy: for eight years now I have not eaten sweets, fruits, flour, dairy products, meat. I have always been on diets, but I got better, for example, because of nuts, bread or avocados. I couldn’t stop. My weight was like on a swing: first I lost weight, then I got fat back. Once I lost weight up to 47 kilograms – and this with an increase of 177 centimeters. Then I had to gain about thirteen kilograms in order to restore normal hormonal status, hair, teeth, nails, menstruation and signs of well-being. Last year, I first lost twenty kilograms, and then recovered by the same amount.
For the past six years I have been covering mirrors because I could not look in them. I wrapped myself in cling film, went to anti-cellulite massages, warmed myself on a treadmill, tried cleansing, fasting, fruitarianism, raw food, chocolate, drinking and protein diets. After every meal, I drank pills and made me vomit. And in any state, I was unhappy with my body, appearance, face. Never in my life have I managed to feel “my” weight, to look at myself and understand that I, in general, am nothing. It was impossible. It was disgusting for me to live in my body, no matter how it looked.
Thinking about food has haunted me all these six years. All day long I thought about what we eat for lunch, dinner, breakfast, how I can achieve my ideal body condition. I thought about when I will lose weight and that only then will I be happy. This, of course, spoke in me the disease. By the age of twenty-three, I had accumulated an unthinkable number of ailments: chronic cystitis, migraines, persistent convulsions, nightmares, an incessant feeling of anxiety and fear. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. At some point, I just stopped sleeping, and panic attacks came every day.
About the reaction of others
Most condemn and do not understand the full severity of RPP. My parents still laugh at my illness – it hurts me to hear it, but I can’t explain it to them. Others, if they themselves have not gone through this disease, take it for weakness, stupidity or immaturity. It is often advised to drink, try drugs, have sex, find a boyfriend, stop losing weight. They say “yes, enough of the bullshit to suffer”, “it’s all because of laziness,” “it was necessary to beat you harder in childhood,” “pull yourself together,” “stop feeling sorry for yourself,” “psychiatrist for schizophrenics,” “psychotherapy – sucking money “,” you are exaggerating everything “(this is my favorite),” enjoy life “,” this is your role as a victim, of course “,” get down to business “and ad infinitum. I am constantly faced with disapproval, denial and misunderstanding that mental disorders – including anorexia nervosa, turning into bulimia – is a disease.
During this time, I experienced three suicide attempts: I cut the body, took pills. I became toxic both to my man and to those around me, but I still resisted and was afraid to see a doctor. Study and work were very difficult, but I realized that I could not stop right now because of responsibility and obligations. At twenty-five years old, I was left absolutely alone: without a young man, without the support of my family, my apartment and understanding what I would do next in life, I began to search for myself. Then I realized that I needed not to treat each disease separately, but to change my whole life.
I went to a psychiatrist and found out I was dealing with an eating disorder. I did not realize that I had anorexia: I was ashamed to admit it. The doctor said that if I don’t start taking pills, I will soon go to the hospital, because I am on the brink. Then I weighed 52 kilograms and could hardly walk anymore. For a long time I was afraid to turn to specialists, because crying, getting sick and losing weight is a shame. I could not even tell my relatives about RPP, because mental illness is immediately Kashchenko. They did not understand what it was, and they said something like “just start eating, and that’s it.” But you can’t just start eating and eating normally, because an eating disorder is a disease.
An eating disorder is treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy. As soon as I started taking medication, my headaches, kidney problems, and bowel problems disappeared. My cycle recovered. Unfortunately, I realized this not at sixteen or nineteen, but only at twenty-five, when the body stopped functioning. I signed up for psychodrama (a therapeutic group process in which a tool of dramatic improvisation is used to study the inner world of a person. – Ed. ), And it also helps me to cope with the disease.
According to the doctors, from early childhood I have chronic depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, and an eating disorder that accompanies all traumatic events. And you don’t need to be ashamed of this, you need to accept it and continue to work on yourself, improve the quality of your life, your mental and physical state. Because only we have ourselves. I want to say that now I live outside these diagnoses and feel like an ordinary person, but with certain peculiarities. The very “diagnosis” should not be intimidating, it is important to just focus on your feelings.
I had to stop communicating with my parents and grandparents, but now I have restored normal relations with them. I moved into a room and lived for a while doing practically nothing. Maintained a working condition in order to earn some money. Now I am twenty-seven years old, and I still see doctors and see a psychotherapist. I took up triathlon, became very interested in swimming, running and cycling: sport saves me from disturbing and destructive thoughts. Sport has become a very big hobby for me. In the pool I feel calm. For me it is a separate type of meditation, I like to interact with water, I focus on breathing and technique. Swimming improved my physical condition, moreover, I became more diligent, more patient, more stable and just happier.
I changed jobs and now I only do what I really like. I travel alone, more often on hikes, and enjoy it. When I started living my life, I stopped forcing myself with diets. Recently I decided on a candid photo session. Such photographs have a very strong effect on self-awareness. My body, my scars and abrasions, bruises and bumps – this is me. This is what it is – there will be no other me. You need to love yourself, not torment and understand that you always live with yourself. You need to be more careful and sensitive to your body, stop correcting it all the time. When you find yourself, when you do what you like, when you communicate with those with whom you want, and do not expect momentary accomplishments from yourself, it becomes easier.
My goal is to be mentally and physically healthy. I have not completely got rid of my illness, but my path to myself continues.