Side Notes: NEDAwareness Week 2014

Side Notes: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014

It’s no mystery to anyone who reads this blog that I had an eating disorder. Ten very long years of my life were wasted and tortured through the recovery of anorexia, emotional eating, orthorexia and body dysmorphia. Sounds horrible, right? Yeah well, IT WAS.

But that’s not what I’m going to focus on this week. Yes, I will recount some of the days that were really bad and wish had never happened, but you know what, they happened, I see that and I’ve grown from every single one of those instances.  So for today, I will focus on the beginning…

The question I get asked most often is: How did it all start?

Let me just say this was, I believe, a progressive disease for me.  I believe the influence for it’s development came from various sources, and started at a very young age.  I do not blame any single person or incident for it, but I know that words were spoken to me as a small child about my body that stayed with me for years.  There are stigmas in every culture that influence us, and each one is very different.  By being Asian, and I’m generalizing, there is a stigma to be thin.  You’re smart and you’re thin.  Basically, you are supposed to be perfect in every way shape and form.  What a thing to live up against, right? My parents pushed me to go be a good student and to work hard, but the concept of perfection was never there.  I put that on myself and it just got progressively worse over the years.

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I remember being in high school and like all teenagers, I wanted to fit in. I knew I could never be part of the popular crowd, so I found my niche in other areas of the school and everything went well. I remember some instances about food and worrying about being fat, but it never stuck. I remember lazy summer mornings after cross country practice and the first thing I would eat was a shake I made out of milk and mint chocolate chip ice cream.  I remember constant trips to cold stone with my girlfriends to gossip about our crushes and details about what we were going to wear to prom.  There was focus on how we looked, but not so much about how to obtain it if it were ever the case.  Pasta parties were held every single Wednesday or Friday nights depending on our running meets and there was never talk of consuming too many calories or carbs.  We ate to our hearts content.

Then along came college.  It was a rough start.  Any time you move away from home, your friends and your family is hard.  In doing that, making new friends (which had never been easy for me) and just recently losing a grandmother, I was in a rough spot.  I remember having my freshman roommate move out after four days of sharing a room with me because she had become better friends with a girl down the hall, and I was left alone. Talk about a blow in the first week of orientation; already rejected!  I got a new one, and made friends from then on out with other girls on my floor and in my core biology classes, but there was still that cultural stigma.

Ok, now I have to clarify something and I cannot lie about it.  Yes, there was this Asian stigma that I believe I always had to live up to, but there was another one just being at my school.  I’ll leave the name out (although I’ve said it many time before), but without pointing fingers, it was predominantly white, (skinny) female dominated and rich.  I had only one of those qualities (female) and it made me stick out like a sore thumb.  When I started college over ten years I was one of very few Asian girls on that campus.  My best friends that year, and throughout the remainder of my college career, were not white, they were from all different cultures including Hawaiian, Japanese, Cuban, Spanish, Syrian and Greek.  I wouldn’t say we were outcasts, but we stuck together.

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I loved my friends with all my heart, but there was a huge part of me that wanted to be part of this other group.  I could not make money appear overnight and I wasn’t going to be able to become anymore white than I already was (unless I pulled a Michael Jackson, lol) so I did the next best thing I could: I focused on losing weight to live up to their skinny standard.  But that wasn’t all as I have to include every detail, there was also a trigger point.

Going off to college everyone is worried about the Freshman 15.  I remember talking to my friends about in high school and discussing about how I was a runner and it would never happen to me.  Yeah, well it did, without me really knowing it though.  I had a new boyfriend at the time who didn’t give a hoot about how much I weighed, and without access to a scale and eating whatever I wanted like every college student, I gained some weight.  Not the whole freshman 15, but close.  And it wasn’t until Halloween of that year that someone close to me made a simple remark about my weight, how I was looking a little chubby, that the dam broke and it all began.

Spring 2004

It took me two months to go from a healthy girl of 130 to a dismal 100 or less.  I have very few pictures from those days as they are mostly in print form (I’m aging myself) but the summer after my freshman year I went to Maui to visit one of my best friends and the pictures still make me cry to this day.  I remember the pain I was in at the time, mentally and physically, and I’m so glad I’m not there anymore.

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sidenote 002 sidenote 003I had fun on that trip and you can see the joy on my face, but at the same time I was torturing myself with guilt and the concern about not being accepted if I wasn’t skinny.

And that’s how it all began.  But just as it began, there was a quick turning point to get me back on track.  That will come next…in my discussion about therapy.  And let me just say, do not be embarrassed about seeing someone about your problems.  It will be the best hour or so of your time, which you take for you and just yourself, that you could ever pay for….just saying.

Until next time…

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6 Responses to Side Notes: NEDAwareness Week 2014

  1. Rose says:

    Thank you for sharing part of your story with such honesty and candor. It’s important to share, and you’re such a gifted writer. I know it took a lot of courage to write some of this, and I give you mad props, girl. You are amazing.

  2. You are so awesome — I have no doubt that your honesty and willingness to share your story is an inspiration to many, many people. Plus, as Rose said, you are such a talented writer. Being able to vocalize what you felt and experienced through words is an amazing thing. Much love, lady!

  3. madeline says:

    Many thanks for your honesty and for telling your story! i’m looking forward to reading your next post. my therapist has been incredibly important for me.

  4. Becky says:

    Wow, I had no idea it was eating disorders awareness week. Thank you for informing me, and for sharing a part of your story here with us.
    There not many people recovering (or recovered) from some sort of ED that are willing to openly share and discuss their stories. I can’t tell you how much a difference this makes.
    I’m very glad you recovered and are able to look back and talk about this vulnerable period without holding back or being ashamed.
    Once again, thanks for sharing and contributing to raising awareness.

  5. Kim says:

    Awesome post, Melissa. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I will agree with you on the therapy – a good therapist is worth their weight in gold!

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