I don’t remember exactly what age or when I developed negative body issues. I almost feels as if I have had those issues all of my life… but if I were to be completely honest, I know that’s not true.
I remember when I started to develop in middle school I would wear two pairs of jeans to school because I thought I was too skinny — “00” jeans wouldn’t fit me, and every time I went to get a physical from my doctor I would always pray that I would finally make it into the triple digits so that I could be like everyone else. I was asked by classmates if I was anorexic, but at that time I didn’t even know what anorexia meant. Looking back, even then I never felt like I fit in or was “acceptable” or pretty. I didn’t even grow boobs until I was a freshman in high school!
Freshman year was rough! I still feel sick to my stomach just thinking about that time in my life. I developed really quickly out of nowhere and it took me completely by surprise. You would think that I would have been ecstatic, finally filling out my clothes with some curves, but I wasn’t at all. You see, at that time I was in a relationship with a boy from my youth group who was young and stupid and would say he loved me but then tell all of my close girl friends that he loved them too. He would tease kisses from all of them, spend hours on the phone with them at night, but then run and ask me for forgiveness because of course we were meant to be together, get married, and get lost in our dreams. That relationship did a lot of damage — as innocent and naive as it was at 15.
I think one of the worst memories I have of him — and I believe it’s one of the main events that kind of ‘knocked me off the edge’ — was when this boy and I were at the beach with a group of friends. I randomly asked him how I looked in my bikini, since I was a little insecure, and he said that I needed to lose some weight in my legs. To add emphasis, he even pointed out my thick ankles, cellulite, and stretch marks. I was devastated. To this day I haven’t had the courage to put on a bikini, much less go to the beach.
Over the course of three years there was a lot more mental abuse. I didn’t know better to run from him. I guess I stayed because he was the guy every girl wanted to date at church — it felt good to be the girl he liked.
After the beach episode, my obsession how I looked got even more intense. I was too naive to not take his words with a grain of salt; what he said mattered to me. I believed that if he saw me as unattractive and fat, then everyone else must have the same thoughts, too! Mentally I began to pick people’s bodies apart; if I saw a girl with amazing legs or a flat chest I would obsess over it and beat myself up because I didn’t look like her. I started to despise my body. The body I initially wanted curvy. I began to really hate my chest, my “flabby” arms, my face, and especially my legs.
Innocently, I started to exercise more in my P.E. classes to lose the weight. But then, ever so slowly, it turned into me skipping lunch at school and exercising more. I lost a lot of weight that I couldn’t afford to lose. I honestly didn’t know that I was depressed then. And I certainly didn’t know that I was also dealing with anorexia. All I knew was that my mind felt as if it were completely taken over by angry, vicious thoughts telling me horrible, horrible things about myself. Anyone who has been through the depths of anorexia knows what I am talking about.
It wasn’t until I was kicked out of high school for a suicide attempt and put into a psych ward that I knew I needed help…
I wish I could write everything that I went through to get from that point to now, but it would be a novel. Trust me.
All I have to say though is: Praise Jesus that He didn’t give up on me when I gave up on Him! His mercy and love and eagerness to reach into my past, my hate, and heal me from the depression and destructive habits just astounds me! I tear up when I think about my loving family, my husband, and friends who knew how to go to war for me! I honestly don’t think I would have survived those 8 years without their love, support, and strength when I didn’t have anything.
It truly hasn’t been an easy road. But I am not ashamed of what I went through. I’ve gone through a lot of counseling over the past 10 years. And I have been antidepressant-free for two of those 10 years! I no longer struggle with anorexia or depression!
I wish I could say that I completely love how I look now, but honestly, I still struggle to like my body — most days are better than others though.
Each day I am choosing to like myself. One day soon… I will love myself.
-Photos: For context purposes, I am 5’5″ and 106lbs (which is a weight I’ve been stable at for roughly 6 years). All photos are of me currently.