Athena's Eating Disorder Story
None of the pictures in this post are of athena, who asked me not to share her picture.
Today I have for you another brave soul who decided to share her story and give us a deeply personal look into her own battle with an eating disorder. I picked out Athena’s story (along with Emily’s, which you can find here) because of the intensity and strength in it. What Athena went through was more than just a brief bout of disordered eating behaviors. She became intimately entrenched in the Pro Ana world, and this led to her spiraling down into purging and restricting, all of which she talks about here.
I really hope you all enjoy hearing about Athena’s bravery and strength in this piece, and I hope for anyone going through an eating disorder now that you can take something from this and realize that recovery is 100% possible, and with the right tools/resources, it’s 100% inevitable.
Trigger Warning: we discuss some “ED Bxs” in possibly disturbing detail. Proceed with caution.
1. How old were you when your eating disorder started? How did it start?
13, the summer going into 7th grade. I guess it started because I had seen a documentary about an 8 year old anorexic, and sort of fumbled into the world of Pro Ana and “thinspiration,” I was dazzled. I’d [never] seen anything like it.
2. You described the Pro Ana community and the pull that had for you. What effect did this have on your ED progression?
It was huge, I’ve never had the support of people telling me to stop eating, or to purge. To me it was a comfort, making me feel sane, or less sick maybe. Though I never actually felt sick, or that something was wrong with me, for the reason that it felt like what I was doing was good for me.
3. You talked about the first time you purged a meal, and it seems like that was a big moment for you. How did this change how you saw yourself and your eating disorder?
I was in mild shock when I purged my first meal. I thought to my self
“Did you really just stick your head in a toilet and throw up a McDonald’s hamburger”?
Definitely a very surreal moment. Though once I did it I knew I could actually continue to and I tried working it into my daily schedule. It made me feel better than the feeling of actually digesting the food.
4. What was the scariest part of it all for you?
Getting caught. I was also scared my teeth would be ruined from the stomach acid.
5. Do you still suffer from this disorder just as strongly, or has it gotten better?
I’m not sure. Some days are better than others. I feel like I can handle the feeling of food in my stomach now, but given the opportunity to, I still continue to purge. I don’t know how long it’s going to take but I’ll get better soon, I promised myself I won’t live like this forever.
6. Did your experience change how you think about eating disorders?
Yes 100%. I used to think people who had them were attention seekers and that they were lazy.
“Why don’t they just eat?” I would think to myself.
7. What's one message you'd like others going through an eating disorder to hear?
I’m not sure, [but] I know eating disorders are terrifying. Because after years of abuse and tears, [and after] all that time forcing food back up your throat, avoiding it at all costs, scratches on your abdomen that bleed and cry for you to stop, but you just can't[; after] all [the] pain and suffering, once you feel like you truly have it together, you really don't.
Sometimes [you’re] in the bathroom with sharp pains that make you feel like you're dying. You have scars and stretch marks like lightning bolts covering the skin that you fought for so long to perfect. Your teeth [are] stained multicolored from the times you just couldn't keep things down, and you still feel it, oh fuck you still feel it. Even when you're eating right and you're holding things down, it's still there. It's there when you look in the mirror every time you go to leave the room, even when you aren't consciously thinking about it. It's there when [you’re] pulling at your clothes and griping at yourself when you don't even know you're actually doing it.
You ignore the abuse you put your body through, as your insides suffer, because you were so angry that your outside wouldn't cooperate, even though all your body ever did was try to survive. Eating disorders are terrifying, because you’re scared that they'll never go away. That you'll never stop feeling the guilt when you eat. Scared that it'll always be about food and how you look and the grabbing and the constant shame, that you'll never be able to stop it. Though no one can help you stop, this is a struggle that starts and ends with you. People can support you, but you have do this for yourself. And the only way out is through. So feel the fear and the pain. Let it all in, and then let it all go.
And if you’re currently fighting through an eating disorder yourself, and you feel trapped in the cycle, without any hope of recovery…
I’ve got some good news for you.
100 Days of Food Freedom: A Day-by-Day Journey to Self-Discovery, Freedom from Dieting, and Recovery from Your Eating Disorder is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.
This is recovery made simple. 100 days of tasks, habits, exposures, and “Adventures” that are guaranteed to bring you to a place of Food Freedom.
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