My Name Is Rachel, and I Am Anorexic: The Story of a Woman's Lifelong Struggle
This article was written exclusively for EatingDisordersOnline.com by Rachel, a member of SupportGroups.com. In this article, Rachel discusses how her anorexia began, the scars left by her mother's criticism and perfectionist attitude, and her biggest motivation to seek help, her daughter.
The title of my story sounds like the beginning of an AA meeting, right? Sharing my story with you all certainly makes me feel I am stepping into one.
Not up to Standard
I have struggled with anorexia for most of my life. My mother decided when I was 12 years old that I was getting a little chunky. I grew up on a farm and was always active. When I hit puberty, I developed curves. My mother informed me that I was getting fat and that I should not eat so much. I was 92 pounds and 5 feet tall. I started a strict diet, but later she would go on to criticize me for not eating enough. I relaxed my diet, but when I did my mother went back to telling me I was eating too much.
I had always been made to feel like I didn’t measure up to my sisters and that I was unlovable unless I was “perfect.” I finally decided that if I was as skinny as I could be, maybe my mom would love me. Thus my lifelong, love-hate journey with anorexia began. In my senior year of high school, I was hospitalized twice due to my eating disorder. At that time I struggled with depression, insomnia and self-injury as well.
Escaping the Criticism
My teen years were a horror to me. The more troubled I became, the more my mother pressed me to end the “games” I was playing. She was convinced I was doing all of it for attention. When I finally graduated high school I moved 800 miles away to escape her constant criticism. I had my beautiful daughter at 19, and she saved my life. For the next couple of years after my daughter's birth, I felt as though my anorexia was not gone but at least under control. I also felt like I finally had something to fight for.
However, over the years in times of severe stress the anorexia came roaring back into my life. Anorexia is something I’ve struggled with for so many years that it become a coping tool for me. I taught myself to use food and eating to deal with stress. When my life feels out of control, my weight and putting food in my body is the one thing I feel I can control and that no one else can take from me. Nevertheless, I’ve also grown a bit wiser as I’ve gotten older, and the illusion that anorexia is something I can control has been shattered.
Shattering the Illusion
I know without a doubt that anorexia controls me, not the other way around. Today I am 29 years old. My daughter will be 10 soon, and she has become my highest priority, my biggest motivation to get my anorexia back under control again. There have been times over the years when it has been dormant, and I am not sure if in my case it will ever go away.
I know that I must learn, like an alcoholic, to live one day at a time. I have to constantly be aware of what I do in the fact of my mind. I have to ask myself: Am I one skipped meal away from a full-blown episode? I continue to fight because I want to teach my daughter that there are better ways to deal with life – and because I finally believe that I am worth fighting for!