When I was 8 years old I wrote in my journal that I was having very strong suicidal thoughts and that I hated being me.
The main source of those thoughts was the fact that I hated being in my body. Every inch of my skin was imperfect and unsuitable for any human to bear. Today I have a little more control and knowledge on how to manage in the crazy maze called body dysmorphia.
Body Dysmorphia: "A mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. The flaw may be minor or imagined. But the person may spend hours a day trying to fix it. The person may try many cosmetic procedures or exercise to excess." -Mayo Clinic
At first I was afraid that I might trigger someone else that struggles with eating disorders or body dysmorphia. But if I can live through years of torment, self loathing, and heart wrenching sobs in the middle of the night…you can read about it.
UNDER-EATING AND OVER EXERCISING
The first memory of where it all began was in the third grade. It was a cold rainy day in Fremont, Ca. I finally convinced my mother to let me wear my green with pink trim spandex track suit. I looked in the mirror and felt so confident! I felt like I could be in an Old Navy ad. I didn't realize that I was self conscious about wearing it until I got to school and sat in my chair. I looked down at my thighs and for the first time I remember wanting have all the jiggly bits of my thigh extracted, ripped off of me, and basically obliterated off the face of the earth. I remember at recess wrapping my jacket around my wide hips to cover my thighs. For a little bit that helped. But every outfit choice has been a war in my mind since then.
The next significant memory was in middle school, age 12. I recently joined the cheer team and 2 girls in my math class; we'll call them Natasha and Keisha, started picking on me about my body shape. They would talk to each other loud enough for everyone to hear.
"Do you think she's fat or thick?" Natasha asked snarkily.
"Nah she's thick that's just how us black girls are built." Keisha replied.
"Well I think she's too fat to be a cheerleader. I wouldn't want to wear a skirt that short if I looked like that."
I was so angry that she'd even had the nerve to comment on my weight. I had never done anything to them.
After that a neighbor friend, that was also on the cheer team, felt similar about the way her body looked and the rude comments that were made about her. We both wanted to be the film stereotype of the perfect cheerleader. Skinny, beautiful, and popular even the envy of other girls. So we agreed upon a weight loss pact. I would go over to her house and we would cut up magazine pictures of models and our ideal bodies. We’d workout until we were dripping in sweat and she'd push me to go farther and harder than I ever have before. She and I were obsessed with weight loss and gave each other strategies on how to survive with an 800 (or less) calorie diet.
THE RITUAL BREAKDOWN
5 am: Workout for 30 minutes then start my skin routine. Done by 6:20 am.
6:30 am: Go to school
Breakfast: Water or some kind of liquid. No SOLIDS! Avoid food at all costs!
Every morning I would write down the max amount of calories I was allowed 800 calories or less. The only foods I was allowing myself were fruits, veggies, and gum. Now that I had planned out my unsatisfying restrictive diet, I start my morning exercises as I watched my anime. After that I would look at myself in the mirror for what felt like forever. Pinching and pinching at the grotesque fat that encased my stomach, arms, and thighs. The burning hatred I felt for myself reduces me to tears. In the mirror I was someone that was trapped in a body I wanted-no desperately needed out.
Lunch: Half of whatever meal I got from school/lunch or a small snack. Drink all the water you can!
2:30 pm: come home do homework then workout for an hour plus.
Dinner: 1 scoop of everything that wasn’t high in fat or carbs. So mostly meat and veggies. And a gallon of water.
Sunset: walk for 30 minutes- an hour.
8-9 pm: ice cold showers to burn that stubborn fat
If you’ve ever been on a strict diet you know that at some point you CRAVE sugary sweets. And like some people I have a very demanding sweet tooth. After school on Fridays I would walk to the corner store that was across the street from my local park and just buy as many snacks as I could buy. Walk to the park and just stuff my face. This usually resulted in a huge stomach ache. The guilt would set in and I would walk home to rid myself of any calories I consumed by doing my "after binge" workout.
Finally I feel light and perfect again…
THE TRIGGERS & THEIR RESOLUTIONS
Imagine that you’re walking through Target’s mirror aisle and instead of normal mirrors they’re the mirrors from a funhouse. The catch is that you are the only one that sees them as funhouse mirrors. It's a struggle to resist the negative thoughts that run through my brain. I do have to say at least one positive thing before I stop looking and that helps some.
The most triggering of all is being called "thick" or "Phat". I know that it's now the body type most women want nowadays, but after being made fun of and used for my body, I still struggle with accepting myself. Being called thick is a trigger for me because of the trauma behind the person saying those words. Growing up I was more developed than most girls and that means I have more hips and thighs than the average pre-teen. The boys at my school would whisper about their sexual fantasies about me and refer to me as the “thick” one. Now everyone wants to be thick and curvy but for me it’s still a reminder that men only see me for my body and not my personality.
I feel like I've gotten a grip on my eating habits for the most part. I still have trouble binge eating and then not eating to "make up for it". But I've stopped purging and over exercising which is a good stepping stone to have crossed. I have a journal I write in about all my big feelings and triggering thoughts that only I can read. My husband also has a big part in my healing journey because he was the first to tell me that I was hurting myself and cared enough to guide me to the proper help. I'd like to thank House of Wolf for giving me the opportunity to speak my truth. Hopefully it will be healing for those that need to be understood and eye opening for those that don't see that they need help.