By Jupiter Polevoi
TW: Eating Disorders, Hospitalization
Growing up, I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist. In fact, I was nowhere near this. I wouldn’t care if I colored outside the lines, or if my lines weren’t straight. I never used a ruler, and origami was my worst nightmare. What I did care about, however, is whether or not people liked me. Growing up was a constant battle between reality and myself; “are they mad at me?” was basically my life motto. The mindset that everyone was constantly disappointed in me quickly became the roots of my insecurities, which then sprouted a new problem: an eating disorder.
Although I couldn’t tell you the exact time I started developing these horrible habits, I have vivid memories of obsessive body checking, to the point where I avoided taking showers so I didn’t have to worry about looking at myself. Hot, humid summers in China turned to extreme temperatures when I would walk the streets in a hoodie and sweats, and what was supposed to be a fun vacation turned into what felt like a torturous summer camp.
The most haunting thing about EDs is how they creep up on you. My heart sank, almost literally, when my doctor told me that my heart could barely keep my body alive and that I’d have to be admitted to the hospital. The fancy term for my condition: orthostatic hypotension. It’s when your blood pressure drops, but your heart rate has a change of over 20 BPM when you go from a laying down to an elevated position.
My eating disorder took away more things than just my health. It took away the relationship and trust I previously had with my parents. Every meal was a screaming match, and I wasn’t trusted enough to go anywhere around food without supervision. It took away memories with my friends – not being able to go out to dinner with them or sleep over until I ate all my meals at home. It took away my first 2 months of high school, during which I spent fighting for my food freedom again in an intensive program. This made me fall farther and farther behind, and I am still struggling to catch up to this day.
Every person and every eating disorder has a different story, but this is mine. Reaching out for help can seem like a daunting task, but it is always worth it. You matter.
National Eating Disorder Association: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/
Eating Disorders Coalition: http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org/
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Related Disorders: https://anad.org/