Struggling with Anorexia
In my testimony, the part most often downplayed is that of my eating disorder. For years, and to this day, I struggle with Anorexia. It’s hard to describe exactly what it is like, but the cyclical pattern of struggle has hit a tide again. When I gave my testimony at Real Life, I was approached by my struggle with eating—and it was a man. It is so incredibly difficult to struggle with what has been deemed “normal” by our traditional society but only to women. This is to each of you, male or female, who know the pain.
I struggled also with many drugs and drug dealing (culminating with a severe cocaine dependency), but none of it came even close to reaching the misery from an eating disorder. It’s hard to put into words at first. I decided that I wanted to lose weight, and I set out to do it. And when I put my mind to something—it’s going to happen one way or another.
When I started regulating my intake of food I started instantly to lose weight. When you go from eating horribly to watching it even a little, your body drops weight quickly. But over time, the weight loss slowed; and to continue it I had to eat less and less. I got to a point, at the bottom, where I was eating only a slice of bread and some non-fat milk each day. I also starting habitually working out, and it only added the fervor to lose more and more weight. I would get up at 5 in the morning to go and work out before school, and if I didn’t I felt terrible the whole day.
One of the most devastating parts of an eating disorder is the habitual weighing. I had a set routine to weigh myself every day. If it was even one pound more than it was yesterday I plunged into depression hoping that tomorrow’s weight would go down. In a matter of about six months I had lost 60 pounds.
The thing that makes weight loss just that much more appealing is all the comments you get. “Wow, have you lost weight? You look good.” I thought I had found the cure to ails of my lack of relational interaction (this all stemmed from a desire to be with someone of the opposite sex). I found, to my dismay, that the problem was not the weight but me personally. It’s odd to try and fix and problem with only the peripherals, and after much misery you found out that the thing that held me back the most were internal issues. I was very conceited and worst of all very manipulative (something to this day that I struggle with).
What’s worse is that you think even losing the weight will help, but after losing it all you have is this eating obsession. From morning until night, all I thought about was what I had eaten, what I was going to eat, and what I could not eat. To have such an essential part of existence become ruminations unleashed incredible amounts of misery. It is hard to say exactly the pain of the disorder, but it is impossible. I can describe what it’s like to come off a cocaine binge (also immensely terrible), but I cannot verbalize the pain brought on by an eating problem.
I did finally start dating, but the only comments I got was that I was to skinny. I felt trapped: I’m to fat then I’m to skinny? What must I do to please everyone? And the habitual desire to please everyone else remained the root problem. Through a slow process, I realized it’s not about pleasing others or even myself.
I still struggle with this a lot. I have gotten much better through psychological and psychiatric treatment. There are a lot of Christians who see anti-depressant therapy as something un-Godly. They would accuse me of looking to a pill and not to God to find relief. It’s hard to explain to them that the pill helped me move all the ruminations aside to seek Him. There was a day that I was so frustrated with being miserable that after weighing myself one last time (which I weighed 147 pounds and I was 6′), I proceeded to smash the scale and drive over it multiple times! I have not personally weighed myself since then, and I have no desire to do so.
I have found peace with the issue, but I know it will be a struggle until I die. The hard part is not only accepting what you suffer from but realize that God ordained it as such (Isa 46:10; Eph 2:10). Even though it’s a hard thought, it actually gives me much confidence in my God and Savior.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.“