I was asked three separate times today if everything was going alright.
Everything was going perfectly fine. Great, actually.
Why. Do. You. Ask.
“You just… don’t, um, look okay.”
Umm… Thank you?
I did fail to apply any makeup like I usually do this morning but…?
Wait. Are you saying I look unwell when my face is the way that my face naturally looks?
I don’t know why this bothers me so much.
I mean, yeah, I like to feel attractive. Who doesn’t? But the way people respond to me shouldn’t be based on my beauty or lack-there-of. AND I feel like it’s an issue that I even have to feel this way, or feel the need to talk about this subject. Or that it even grinds my gears, but it does.
And here’s why:
I have an eating disorder, and I say ‘have,’ not ‘had’ because while I no longer struggle like I used to, an eating disorder is something that never really leaves you. It’s not like the flu which you recover from after a certain amount of time has passed. It’s like addiction, one step at a time, one day at a time. It is always lurking, sleeping just below the surface threatening to wake up and rip your peace to shreds.
Through middle school and the first half of high school I struggled not just daily, but hourly, even by the minute with this overwhelming obsessiveness. Not just an obsession with my BMI, but with food in general.
Food was on my mind every second.
How many calories were in that apple?
and that means how many sit ups…
so no food at home, only water.
Too many calories. No more apples. Ever.
I ate the same thing everyday, and I couldn’t/wouldn’t eat with or in front of anyone unless I was absolutely forced to. (I’m not hungry, haha, big breakfast, haha).
If I wasn’t counting calories, or thinking about calories, I was burning calories. I exercised excessively. Obsessively. I would have a near total breakdown if I didn’t get my leg lifts and sit ups in daily. 2,000 of each, every day. And if I lost count, I’d have to start all over.
It was a numbers game. Count calories, count reps. God forbid the calorie limit be broken; that leads to purging and more reps. Honestly, I can’t even count how many times I emptied myself out, and all to fit in a certain size of jeans. My entire self worth was tied to numbers: numbers on the scale, numbers on my clothes, numbers on food labels, numbers in my head that meant nothing to anyone but me.
That’s how I lived. Day in, day out. In constant fear of what my reflection would tell me everytime I passed a mirror or window.
And I’m not the only one.
There are countless, countless individuals that struggle with the same shitty disease that only goes into remission, never actually letting you off the hook.
I still have days when I can’t even bring myself to eat the pizza crust, so I just awkwardly and painstakingly scrape the cheese off the top and eat that. Sometimes, I can’t even order at a restaurant without an overwhelming wave of anxiety crashing down around me.
Eating disorders linger. They are the monsters under our bed, and sometimes they are courteous enough to sleep and leave us alone. Sometimes they rip our headboard off and scream all night. Some days are harder than others.
And this why the assumption that someone just because I am not putting forth an obvious effort to look like a perfect 10 means I am not okay bothers me. I am still a worthwhile individual without an aesthetically pleasing appearance. I am still the same person, with the same quirks and traits and I am worthwhile. My appearance should not dictate my worth, or the way I am reacted to.
I can think of a million things worse than being less than physically appealing.