It’s about this time 4 years ago I was first diagnosed with Bulimia, and 2 years ago I became Vegan — which is making me reflect on the time that has passed and how far I’ve come.
T.Warning: This post contains an overlook at my journey over the last four years, I have not included numbers/weights. There are images of me at a low body fat percentage & underweight, I have discussed some of my ED behaviors. I do not feel as though this is a triggering post - but I would like to respect that everyone has different triggers and are at different stages: This warning is for those of my followers who have any kind of eating disorder that feel they may be triggered.
This is an overview of the story of how I have come to where I am today. I think I could write I book though!
This is a positive post - this is me cleansing my reflections of the past 4 years and choose to finally be Rosie.
[TOP LEFT PHOTO] taken while swimming with friends in the middle of 2011, I had an extremely disordered relationship with food which I did keep secret for a long time, I still sometimes get caught in a train of denial. Eating disorders are all about secrets.
I had gone through a lot emotionally within the previous year and had gained weight, this was the biggest I had been. I was an active and fit kid and not an overweight teenager.
Suddenly the world around me was all about gyms, being skinny, insulting your legs and stomach, apparently telling a girl “so skinny!” is a compliment that was wanted - I felt like I had to reevaluate myself too. I remember the first night I actually stood naked in front of the mirror, finding all the things I hated. All the things I wanted different. A little demonic parasite had arisen.
I remember the lists upon lists I later made, the journals I kept full of hateful notes, images of underweight, unrealistic and anorexic women, bones, pro ana/mia reminders. The sad thing is, there were websites which fueled this miserable illness - very very sick people run websites encouraging girls/boys to starve themselves to “perfection” - death is not perfection. “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” was a huge saying, and it’s a quote I wish I could erase from this universe, from EVERY mind. From the minds of the young girls who haven’t even full developed yet, from the women who ban themselves from enjoying food with their best friends. From the minds of the people who use it as a reminder to not eat.
2011 was a full year of bulimia and exercise, and it came so sneakily, I would use it to binge on anything/everything I wanted to eat - the could just purge and it was gone! Easy, right? Wrong. Very very wrong. My decision to eat the foods and the amounts was gone, “binge mode” took over - and it was living hell, I felt uncontrollable, I couldn’t stop even when I was on the kitchen floor so full, in so much pain, my lungs actually feeling crushed, sobbing. I continued to put food in my mouth, you don’t control a binge - a binge controls you. I was scared of binging, I knew it would happen and I wouldn’t have the strength to stop it.
In 2011, after considering myself as “chubby” I began exercising - a lot. All my spare time would be taken up my exercise, ritualistic and obsessive. I would wake up in the morning and instead of lying in bed for a few minutes, I would get on the floor and do crunches, sit ups, star jumps.
In 2012, I chose to become healthy - my mother had found out about my eating disorder (walked in on a purge) and I could see how it destroyed her inside. My mother grew up with a sister who had bulimia - and 35 years later, she’s still suffering.
I finally understood my Aunty, and I knew I wanted to fight for myself and for her.
I chose to self recover / very slowly I began to find ways to change my habits. I started looking at my entire intake / I wanted MORE natural, wholesome things (which in my mind seemed most natural) and less preservatives, colours, artificial anything, flavors and numbers. I ate really well, the problem was the obsession I had which food itself // everything that I ate was prepared a day or two ahead, EVERYTHING was weighed and recorded. I would hardly eat with or around anyone, no one could watch me prepare my meals or dare touch my food. When I cooked, I couldn’t have any leftovers - I had to weigh, record and eat that exact meal. Leftovers weren’t measured and I didn’t know the numbers. Numbers is a sick obsession, my diagnosed OCD caused more struggle with my eating disorder.
Later in 2012, again around this time of year - I stumbled across a vegan link of documentaries and chose to watch them after reading more about veganism. I first watched “Earthlings” and cried in the intro - it hit me so hard, my eyes, heart and mind had finally been enlightened and I NEEDED to change, to remove myself and not participate in the selfish use of animal products. (Before you say anything about that sentence - I ask you to watch Earthlings.)
I then watched “Forks over Knives” which focuses on the health impacts of a vegan diet vs animal diet, which was so interesting. It further fueled and hardened my newfound motivation and passion for veganism. Going vegan was an ethical decision, I couldn’t go back after becoming aware.
Going vegan seemed to be the final kick in the butt to Bulimia - all my classic binge foods had been eliminated and I was now really passionate about learning the truth of nutrition, something which excited me and made me feel good because food/nutrition has always been a big part of my life. So going vegan was like a whole new start, goodbye bulimia and unhealthy habits / hello healthy body and a fresh start at life.
As you may have now guessed, this is where “clean body fresh start” came from. This is was my very own fresh start.
I ate a really balanced and healthy vegan intake - lots of oats, healthy fats (nuts seeds avo), lots of fruit and veggies, beans, rice, tofu a few times a week etc..
I exercised healthily and I really did feel totally awesome [TOP RIGHT PHOTO ]
Within a few months, I was going through a lot in life and my anxiety had become very bad, my OCD even worse which made my eating disorder jump to life. My food preparation became even MORE controlled, structured and ritualistic. I spent hours upon hours in the kitchen, writing down food measurements, washing/drying, touching. My days were exhausting but I COULDN’T do otherwise.
I had previously been exercising healthily and in balance with my eating. Now, I was obsessively exercising - weighing myself every morning without fail, naked after going to the toilet.
I did eat, and I ate well. But it was controlled - I weighed everything I ate and wrote in all down. Everything. It wasn’t that the food had to be under a certain amount, it was just that I HAD to know the number, I had to record it.
People think “well just stop” (unless you’ve suffered an obsessive compulsive disorder, you wont realize how impossible that is)
but forcing (and that what it was) myself not to weigh something meant a) I wouldn’t eat that food item and b) if someone was pushing me to eat it, I would have an anxiety attack. I HAD to know the numbers.
What I tried to explain to my psychologist was - in my head I was healthy, because I knew that I understand nutrition and what the body needs, I am intelligent and nutrition is my passion - one of the very few topics I retain information on easily, I wasn’t trying to be unhealthy or relapse. I was just in a whirlpool of mental illnesses with one common characteristic: control. There was a parasite in my mind which went completely against my own self, knowledge and beliefs.
Weighing myself daily wasn’t about losing weight - I just had(!!) to know the number.
The number would however determine my day. Lost a few grams - awesome, satisfaction. Gained a few grams, disappointed and depending on my existing mood / very upset. Maintained - no problem! Lets get on with the day!
It shouldn’t be like that, a number should not have that power.
One Thursday in February 2013 I slept in, when I eventually woke up I went to the kitchen and just looked at my mum, she knew exactly what was happening and I just cried. I had finally run out of steam, my brain (after months of lacking sleep) was finally done with the constant thoughts/anxiety/obsession. I was done, exhausted, fed up. I think I cried and said “I don’t WANT to stand in here all day weighing fucking FRUIT”
That day I started professional recovery with a mental health team.
That in itself was a very hard and wild ride, but very rewarding in hindsight / I gained a lot of help, support and understanding. I wouldn’t be where I am without that experience and I am so grateful for every nurse, doctor and psychologist who has cared for me through all my ups and downs, my psychotic episodes, screaming outbursts and my fast rambling without breaths.
The year carried on, I was still vegan and focusing on learning how to cope with and overcome depression, anxiety, OCD and EDNOS (my current diagnosis).
I spent about 4 months straight of the year raw vegan - I hadn’t yet been able to stop weighing food (but had no restriction) so my massive mono meals and smoothie combos would be weighed and it was actually really hilarious - all my bananas wouldn’t fit on the scale!! Hahaha
I was seeing my psychologist twice a week, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was the first approach. I was also on medications which I had negative side effects to and they actually caused hell for my ED recovery mentally. I stopped these medications. For my recovery and for my body to heal, I had to stop exercising (around June 2013) - which was extremely hard for me, but eventually it was such an amazing freedom.
Throughout the start of recovery I reached my lowest body fat percentage - I ate, but I was obsessively exercising.
When I stopped exercising, was also the time I was experiencing negative side effects to my medication - weight gain and increased appetite.
Eventually many months later, I learned that my psychiatrist had intentionally prescribed this medication - it’s an antipsychotic commonly given to anorexic patients, for those exact side effects. When I found out, I was angry because I wasn’t anorexic and I WAS eating, it was like a betrayal. Now, in hindsight - I was at my lowest weight, I was tiny. I was sick and sad and cold all the time, my hair was falling out, my nails brittle and my body hair was so dark. I was being weighed weekly at my psych appointments, for weeks I was being threatened to be admitted but I was so stubborn and talked my way out of the topic every time by persisting I would gain weight myself. I wasn’t gaining, I was losing even though I really was trying.
Even though at the time what I went through ripped me to shreds and made me miserable within myself, I can look back gratefully on it - because I am where I am today because of what I’ve been through.
I focused more on my yoga practice, mindfulness and spirituality. Looking to Buddha, Mahatma Ghandi, Thich Naht Hanh, Eckhart Tolle and other spiritual ‘leaders’ for guidance and enlightenment.
It’s now August 2014 and the past year itself has been massive for me / moving house 5 times, removing a lot of negative people and relationships from my life, delving to the deep end of my spirituality and beliefs, trying to beat self harm, dealing with recovery weight gain (+ weight yo-yo) and the ED destructive thoughts that attack / finding things other than exercise to do, actually trying to discover who Rosie is, separate to mental illness.
I’ve gone through a hell of a ride over the past 4 years, and each year has 365 days - each day has felt like a year within itself. Each day is a roller coaster which can’t be predicted and I couldn’t possibly write my entire experience in one post.
[BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO]
I am now back to eating a high carb (mostly raw) vegan intake. My body seems to have found itself again and I cannot even recognize the person I have been in the past few years. I finally feel like I’m uncovering Rosie, for the first time ever. I feel like my fresh start is happening, finally.
I do not exercise regularly, and when I do it’s not very intense. I still have a mad and uncontrollable love for yoga. I attribute my healthy body (inside and out) - my glowing skin and my general happiness to my high carb 80:10:10 Vegan Lifestyle.
Finding my feet and also my head, has allowed me to take on this lifestyle differently.
I stopped weighing my food in July 2013, this is when I also stopped weighing myself. Now - I live happily in my skin, a number does not define my value, worth or ability to contribute to this universe.
Now, I eat as much as I want until I’m satisfied, I no longer have any need to know the weight of every item I put in my body.
This lifestyle is not about control, restriction or deprivation / it’s about ABUNDANCE!
Never before have I felt as connected to myself, my soul and the universe around me.
Despite the horrible struggle and torturous times, I am grateful for my journey because I wouldn’t be this version of myself with it.
"A certain darkness is needed to see the stars." ☆ ✮
You see, I’ve ALWAYS loved health, food and most importantly nutrition and what food does to our bodies. An eating disorder was triggered and scattered my world and my mind, and I’m still picking up the pieces. I have overcome the voice and very rarely does it whisper in my ear, but it’s now something I can ignore. I am still recovering and I still struggle at times, I am NORMAL.
My message to anyone suffering who is reading this:
I promise you, one day it will be better. What you’re going through, as I’m so sure you know - is destroying your soul, your life and the essence of who you are. I lost myself 4 years ago and for the very first time I finally feel like Rosie is appearing. And boy is she vibrant.
You CAN get through this. In recovery, you have bad days. Recovery isn’t something you choose once - it’s something you choose multiple times everyday until you no longer even need the conscious choice. You choose recovery every time you enjoy a meal, every time you skip weighing yourself or counting calories / every time you fight that voice YOU ARE WINNING! The demon will fight back and torture you, because you are claiming control over yourself back - which means he’ll lose. But every time you fight and choose recovery, he becomes weaker, he loses. You will start feeling the power and life return to you. I promise, the fight is so fucking worth it.
An eating disorder will never make you happy, ever.
An eating disorder is not a lifestyle, it is a mental illness which kills.
Just because you cannot physically see the effects of a disease of the mind - does not mean it is not a living hell. One of the many problems with mental illness is that it’s within your mind - you don’t have a physical injury for people to see to understand. Another problem is it’s impossible for someone to understand a mental illness unless they’ve suffered - so many people suffering these deadly diseases feel as if they have nowhere to turn - alone.
I promise you, my incredible earthling - you are not alone. Even on your darkest days.. you have this entire community to lean on, for support and love. We will always be here, always encouraging you positively. You are not alone and we are here to walk you on your path the health and happiness.
Recovery is possible.
Please remember: You are not your illness.