Monday, 4 February 2013

I need to stop lying to myself

'Charismatic', 'Confident', 'Bubbly', 'Outgoing', 'Smiling', 'Joyful' are all words that others have used to describe me, from complete strangers to my closest friends (and yes OK 'Cocky' too. Can you call a girl 'cocky' even if she doesn't have a penis? Yeah I know girls don't have penises, I'm not an idiot). I suppose that if you and I were to meet, your impressions would be fairly similar (I am pretty awesome). These words got so hammered into my brain that even I fell for it. Even my best friend at uni would keep saying 'you're so bubbly and confident, everyone likes you, etc' (she was probably just sucking up but tbh she wasn't far off the mark seeing as I'm the incarnation of cool in the universe). And I was like 'yeah, I am cool and people like me', which made me feel better temporarily.

And for years, this facade of how incredible I make people think I am... has been hiding something unpleasant and very common among women. I have the self-esteem of a plankton. 
(Like seriously. I don't think you could get lower self-esteem than that, except maybe if you're a mouldy tomato or a bug).

Anyway, I am 23 and I have been struggling with eating disorders since I was 5 years old.

Before then, I think perhaps I had just been one of those annoying kids that don't care much for food, you know? (When I was 15, I babysat a 6 year-old who didn't like chocolate or pizza. I was like 'wtf you freak, what the hell am I supposed to feed you now?' but not to her face because I would've lost my job and I needed the money so I could go bowling with my friends).

Being a fussy eater didn't bother me or my family when I was toddler. I was just very skinny and didn't really like food, no big deal. We were happy. Our parents were two successful business partners in lurrrrrrve, and we were bloody rich in a mansion of an appartment with all the toys, nannies, holidays, pets etc a kid could wish for (except one of our nannies use to take her slobbery dentures out and put them in front of me while I ate, which was just weird. She got fired). Dad was the King of the World because he was wonderful, but Mum scared me because she made my brother cry by hitting him with belts and metal hangers. Then things went different when Dad broke his brain in an accident when I was 5. I felt sad a lot of the time, and food became comforting.

When I was 8, Mum told me I was fat, and our GP made me go on a diet. He gave me an 'Avoid and Reduce' list which stipulated I couldn't eat dried raisins, pasta, potatoes, chocolate, cereal, biscuits, bread, milk, yoghurt, cream, sweets, noodles, beef, fish fingers, gravy, etc. Honestly, what kind of sick freak tells an eight-year-old she can't eat ANYTHING apart from cabbage and tuna?
Mum kept telling me I was flabby and ungraceful. 'You don't want to look like that, do you?', pointing to morbidly obese or hunch-backed women in the streets, and my brothers followed suit, reiterating that I was 'fat and ugly'. I was convinced that my 'thin friends' would never like me, so I would sit in a corner of the playground on my own to draw princesses in a sketchbook. I agreed with everything Mum said (even though I now hated her because she threw plates at us - I often wished for a 'nicer Mum'). So when I was 9, I found out that if you stick your fingers down your throat deeply enough, you can make yourself sick. Whehay! Then my parents got divorced because Mum fell in love with some guy (he's now my stepdad and he's awesome), and my grades fell down the loo (not literally because that would be gross).

Finally came middle school: a Fresh Start. I resolved to be pretty for the boys (by dieting), be popular with lots of friends and follow my Mum's orders to be 'Number One' at school. I became outgoing, bubbly, friendly and charismatic. Boys asked me out even though I had always thought I was morbidly obese, and I ended up being a popular girl in my year with lots of friends, top grades, liked by all teachers, involved in Theatre, sports, music, art and writing. Basically, I was like one of those cheerleader girls you see in American TV shows. Except I'm not American, nor am I a cheerleader. But I still thought I was fat, so continued eating and purging.

At 16, I started to feel extremely vulnerable. There were boy troubles, jealousy amongst friends, competition at school, pressure from Mum to be 'Number One' ALL THE TIME ('If you can't be the best, you're nothing'). My best friend and I started squabbling over a boy. I got the guy OBVIOUSLY (gosh this is like a Jane Austen novel) but I HATED risking being outshone by others. I didn't want to go back to being the girl who sat alone in a corner of the playground. 

Suddenly, I felt the need to be perfect so that no one would ever surpass me, or ever be able to criticise me. I became obsessed with self-control, which I converted to calorie-counting. I suppose my efforts worked on other people because I got comments like 'You're like a ballerina' or 'you're a hot geek' or 'you're like the perfect girlfriend' or 'you have the perfect figure' - yet it was never enough. Looking back, it seems ridiculous that I felt so miserable, but I was desperately insecure. I HAD to weigh 95lb and was TERRIFIED of putting on the slightest bit of weight.

Ironically, my obsession with counting calories made me lose track of everything else... I stopped doing my homework, I stopped music, I stopped Drama, I ignored my boyfriend (and broke up with him by changing my Facebook relationship to 'single'. I call it 'Speed-Breaking' HAHAHA God I'm hilarious). Mum was initially oblivious to the fact I was becoming a freak, and even praised me when she saw me weighing up lettuce in the kitchen for my dinner, or cutting up five cubes of cucumber for my packed lunch. I didn't think my friends would notice if I munched a cucumber cube 35 times while animatedly chatting to them in the cafeteria (doing both at the same time is hard, believe me). 

When I finally weighed 95lb, Mum said I was pretty even though I looked like a whale. But when the school got involved after my fainting fits during class, she freaked out and force-fed me a pork chop until my face hurt from crying, and told me I would never get into Oxford because she would put me in a mental institute. I often felt so overwhelmed with anguish and fatigue that I wanted to die. Pffff dramatic much ???
At 17, treatment started, consisting in psychiatric following. But if you ask me, it is only ever treatment if you willingly accept it, which I didn't really. Because my control had been taken from me, I started binging and throwing up again. I felt stupidly angry with myself for now weighing 120lb. And Mum said I was getting fat and needed to slim down. Seriously? One minute, I'm too fat, next I'm too thin, then next I'm too fat again? What is WRONG with you Mum? Get a life.

During that time, I had applied to five unis, received offers from four of them... and a rejection from Oxford. I was so devastated that I skipped all my mock exams in order to get drunk on brandy and sleeping pills in my room (PARTAY WOOH! Nah it wasn't like that). Mum reiterated that I was a failure and needed to get over myself, which yeah, I guess was true.

The summer after high school graduation, Mum told me I was a fat hippy. I 'rebelled' by making out with my friend's boyfriend, who then touched me down there against my will. I felt so gross and guilty that I showered 20 times a day to wash him off me, then overdosed on fat-burning pills and was hospitalised. During the follow-up psychiatric sessions which my parents attended with me, I blurted out my thoughts to Mum, and even told her why I took the pills. She reacted by calling me a whore and said I would not go to uni that September. ERM. Excuse me? There was NO WAY I was going to stay home with that psycho. So I went to uni.

Uni was good, as it was another fresh start without Mum. I was a consistent First Class student, involved on the exec of various societies, with loads of friends from all walks of life, going to and organising parties, and dating various guys (I didn't trust a single one of them after what had happened That Summer, and couldn't be bothered to spend time with them. Worst girlfriend ever. God I was such a tease). I was still concerned with my weight but it was a 'niggle' at the back of my mind, as opposed to a major concern (so I thought).

Yet I continued the cycle of eating and purging, especially when my mood wasn't great. Everytime I decided to address the issue, to change my life around, I would get involved with the local E.D. NHS Clinic, and then Completely and Utterly Ignore It. This happened 5 or 6 times (they probably hated me). I kept thinking that if I 'suppressed/ignored my problem' and 'lived moderately', things would get better.

But two years after graduation, it's now 2013, I'm 23, the bulimia rages on. It really needs to change.

'You've tried before, Smiley Princess, what's different this time?' 

What really ticked me off was when my boyfriend (Prince Charming) recently admitted to me he has a problem with Something and that he needs to address it, even blog about it. His new resolve made me so proud of him, but after two weeks, I felt his momentum falter... he now said that it was OK to 'live moderately' (remind you of anyone much...?) and even stopped blogging. COME ON. In any case, this really affected me, and we were both surprised at how strongly I felt about his problem.

Then it suddenly hit me. It's because I have the same issue with food.

I need to stop lying to myself.


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. Really gave me a chance to get to know you. You've been struggling for a long time. Sounds like your mom was the main contribution to it. That's always tough. Keep your head up dear. It's a strong disease.

    1. Whehay, first comment EVER!

      Thanks for the kind and encouraging words, it means a lot.

      Felt as though I rambled on a bit but if you like my endless blabber, then I guess it's good enough :D

      Looking forward to your entries!

      Princess xxx