When my world was falling apart around me with Dad dying and Mum’s illness I felt like I needed to control something. I wanted to grasp anything to shield the pain and make me feel safe. Food became that security blanket.
What started as a diet soon escalated to severe calorie restriction and an excessive exercise addiction. Food became my life. Everyday was ruled by my body weight.
It took over me
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You think you’re in control but in reality you’re not. My eating disorder had the upper hand all the time – it controlled what I ate and when I ate, whom I ate with and what exercise I had to do to pay for my intake.
I would exercise obsessively in order to make sure the minimal amount I was eating would not make me fat.
In reality it was not even enough for a child to live on.
I felt exhausted all the time. Everything was an effort but that didn’t stop the drive to exercise. Nothing stops that urge to move. I never wanted to miss an opportunity to burn up calories.
The joy of food was gone
You don’t consume calories – they consume you. I knew the calorie content of everything – I was just like a walking calorie counter. The joy of food had gone.
I was so hungry all the time that food was always on my mind.
All I thought about was food – I was obsessed.
I spent hours food shopping and cooking for other people but didn’t allow myself to be part of the eating, the nourishment, the enjoyment.In a strange way, it felt better to be starving – it felt like I was achieving, like I was worth something.
As soon as I ate something that wasn’t on my schedule I felt like I meant nothing, I felt disgusted with myself and couldn’t bear to be around anyone.
Any event where food may be on offer became a mission. How could I avoid the eating part without people noticing? Social activities became an ordeal.
To anyone reading this, please know that no matter how bad it’s got you can get better. I had days, weeks, months where I just didn’t believe I would. I thought getting better meant getting fat.
Getting better just means getting to a point where you can have a life and maintain a healthy eating and exercise pattern which doesn’t consume every waking second or destroy your health.
Changing my mindset
For me, getting to this point meant making a balanced but structured eating and exercise plan with a therapist who I connected with. It meant making small adjustments to this weekly and perhaps most importantly it meant working with what my head would tolerate at each particular stage.
During this time I felt lost – the eating disorder had been such a big part of my being.
I used all the spare head space to focus on rebuilding my life. I’m not saying I’m perfect and I still struggle but the difference is that now I am healthy and I have my life back (which includes studying for a PhD, modeling and writing a book).
Connect with Expert Sophie Suri