A War With Myself and With Everyone

| December 3, 2013 | 6 Comments

imgresThere’s a lot of talk, especially on the internet, about body image and self confidence in girls. (We even had a Culture Shock post about it recently.) A common message is that girls shouldn’t focus so much on what’s on the outside, but rather we should try to be good people on the inside. What’s on the outside shouldn’t matter. And that’s a great thing to say, but it’s not that easy.
I was anorexic in my junior year of high school, and I had to attend fifteen hours of intensive therapy every week for five months. They released me in June of 2011, and I’ve never relapsed, but it’s something I’ve struggled with every day since then. I also have body dysmorphia, so I can’t tell what I really look like. Everyone says that I look so much better now. My face isn’t sunken in anymore, and I got my glow back. I can’t see a difference. I still think I see fat that other people say isn’t there. And I have no idea how long I’m going to be living like this, in a constant battle with my body. You’ve had outsiders’ perspectives on this issue, and I’m here to give you an insider’s perspective.

My tattoo of the NEDA symbol that I got while still in therapy at age 16.

My tattoo of the NEDA symbol that I got while still in therapy at age 16.

I wanted to be sick. When the psychiatrist told me I was anorexic, I felt so proud of myself. And then I was scared. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to be sick anymore. We ate dinner at therapy, me and about fifteen other girls. And sometimes we would try to hide pieces of food in our sleeves or our pockets. It was hard there, with all the therapists watching us, and the time I got caught was horrible. It was easy at home, though. I had routines for hiding all my meals, and I felt so sneaky and accomplished. I had to drink three Ensures a day, which were basically calorie shakes. At night, when everyone was asleep, I would go down to the refrigerator, dump them out, and fill them with water. I lied a lot, and I liked it. It felt powerful. I was in control.
ThinSpo blogs made my anorexia far worse than it would have been otherwise, I think. I wanted to be thin as a personal goal, but I also wanted to be thinner than everyone else. It started as a competition with those around me. Could I be the skinniest girl in my high school? I think I got pretty close. But then there were all these girls on the internet who were skinnier than me. I started a competition with the whole world.
Fear keeps me from relapsing. My mother would pull me out of school and bring me home. Being busy, too, helps a lot. I don’t have time to worry about food because I have so many other things to do. But it’s always been in the back of my head. And a nasty little part of me is still proud to say that I was once anorexic. That same part of me still gets angry when other people have eating disorders, because I wanted it to be my thing. I wanted it to make me special.
It’s so hard to ignore the voice in my head that tells me I should be skipping meals, even years after recovery. So what I want to say to people who have this problem is, I don’t know if it will totally go away, but it will get better. And to those who don’t have this problem, you are very, very lucky.

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Category: featured, Social Activism

Kate Conroy

About the Author ()

Kate Conroy comes from a small town in South Jersey where she has two little sisters and many cats. She is a Leo and an English major, and she will defend the Oxford comma forever. She is extremely controlling, and that's probably why she writes fiction. She also watches too much television and takes too many pictures of herself. Follow her on twitter and instagram: @K4TE8

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  1. Rhiannon Pabich Rhiannon Pabich says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Kate. It takes a lot of courage to speak truth, and I think Culture Shock is really lucky you were brave enough to.

  2. DS says:

    as you said, you’re an insider, and others like me are not. so as an outsider, i want to play “outsider’s advocate” and ask a question that comes from the outside.

    “I wanted to be sick. When the psychiatrist told me I was anorexic, I felt so proud of myself.”

    an outsider might look at this and say, “oh, sure, you just wanted attention. how could you be proud of something like that unless you were just seeking attention?”

    these are not my thoughts, but i’m sure you can understand how easily outsiders might say this. how would you answer them?

  3. Marilyn Franceschini says:

    I am so proud of you. My daughter Vicki died of anorexia 22 years ago leaving a beautiful daughter without a mother. I have always felt guilty about not being able to help her. It is something I will live with the rest of my life. Ian so very happy that she left me her wonderful daughter. She is the joy of my life. Knowing you are making a wonderful life for yourself gives me strength to believe that this terrible disease can be controlled There is hope. Thank you for sharing this. Your honesty. Has helped me understand so much sincerely Marilyn

  4. Breann says:

    My beautiful amazing badass of a twin,

    I love you so much. I am so proud of you. Meeting you in treatment was one of the greatest blessings. You have done such amazing things. I know you are going to continue to do even more wonderful things in this world. You’ve come so far since I met you. This article was an amazing read and I am so proud of you for sharing your story so that others can learn and understand that eating disorders are no joke. Im sitting here crying over how happy I am for you and your recovery. I love you. Keep it up lovely.

    Love always,


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