My struggle with eating disorders

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I guess it all started when I realized I had put on 10 kilos after spending a year as a high-school exchange student in the US, which by the way, was one of the best years in my life. But still, I felt fat. The first thing my Mom told me when she saw me at the airport after a year is “Well darling, it’s time to start a little diet”. And she was right. I just wish I hadn’t taken it so personally. So I did watch a bit my food intake, and to be honest it wasn’t really hard to shed a few kilos off. About a year after I had set foot on the French ground again, I was weighing about 55 kilos (for 1.67m), which was only a few kilos above my normal weight.

However during the summer after my Baccalaureate exams, I was about to start prep school, which really stressed me out….Fear of failure, again. I noticed I started eating more than usual, and by the time I started prep school, I had gained 8 kilos…I felt like a cow, I was so ashamed to look at a boy in the eyes (and going to an All-girl high school didn’t really help!). I started watching my food intake again, but I couldn’t manage to lose any weight. I loved my deserts too much!

For some reasons, after Christmas that year, I started to lose a few kilos, I was swapping deserts for apples, and began to be called the “veggie & fish-girl”. And my strategy proved super-efficient…So efficient that the guy who I fell in love with in my class started noticing me over the summer. And I was confident again. I was exercising, I had made great friends, I was fit. It felt so good!

During the summer, my friends and I spent a week at Pierre’s house in South of France (the boy I had set my eyes on), but I noticed that he was already interested in another girl… And I’m not the kind of girl who throws herself at a boy like that. So I withdrew a bit, and for the rest of the summer I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I felt like those nostalgic French poets writing about their inaccessible Muse… Besides, around the same period, my best friend who was travelling to New Zealand told me she got pregnant, and she had no choice but to get an abortion. She couldn’t tell her parents. I felt traumatized for her, and guilty not to be here for her. At that time I was in Corsica at my Grandma’s house with my family, and my parents started to tell me that I wasn’t eating enough, that I had lost quite a lot of weight. But I kept telling them to mind their own business. Why eat when you are not hungry?

By the time school started again (on my 2nd year of prep school), I weighed 48 kilos. And I was feeling much lighter! Finally able to wear those jeans I had been longing for months. I also got really close with Pierre, and one day after school, we were walking together, and he suddenly stopped, and kissed me. He was shaking. My heart was pounding….Pierre loved me?!
Our love story had begun, and we are still together (7 years later!)
I guess when you are in love, your food appetite shrinks, you start to dream all the time…and I lost about 5 more kilos. My Mom was extremely worried, but I was eating normally whenever I came home and I told her not to worry. She made me go see a psychiatrist, who was very kind and compassionate, but I just couldn’t put into practice his advice, and the diet he prescribed felt like it was for an ogre…

The good news was, after taking my final exams, I got accepted into an Engineering school in Nantes, where I studied for a year. And a year later my dream came true: I was going to live in Tokyo for 11 months! At the same time my boyfriend got accepted into MIT ! I was really happy for both of us, even though we were going to be apart. I felt quite smart, learning Japanese, adapting to a new culture, compared to when I was lagging behind all the others in prep school…

The only thing is, I didn’t want to admit that I was feeling a bit lonely, far away from my friends, from Pierre… And that’s when the food binges started… I was eating 30 Ferrero chocolates in a row, feeling guilty the next morning, but doing more sport to compensate. I went back to France in February (around the time when the Fukushima tsunami happened), and my school didn’t want me to go back there afterwards.

I felt desperate. I had left my friends, my room…I had learnt Japanese for nothing? And I was sitting at home, bored, or visiting a new museum in Paris everyday. The binges were gradually increasing… My mom had discovered a “rat” in the house, eating the chocolate chips in the cereals and only the crust of baguettes in the freezer. And of course, I was the “rat”…

I started to put on a few kilos, which my boyfriend noticed straight away, and told me to watch my food intake… I was really angry at him. He couldn’t understand the big hole that I had inside me…this inner turmoil that was torturing me. But the truth is I couldn’t explain it either. I had everything to be happy: a united family, a sound mind in a sound body, some good friends…While Pierre had just lost his Dad and his Grandma, the 2 persons he loved the most, and who helped him grow. And he was an only child.

So what was it that made me binge like this?

A few months later, I was going to Hong Kong for my end of studies internship. My weight was back at 54 kilos. I was feeling enormous, and I had entered this vicious circle or bingeing/starving/bingeing even more… I was powerless… I had made some really good friends, one of them whom I had revealed my “dirty secret” to. But she couldn’t understand why I was restricting, or even bingeing…

I was stealing in my flatmates’ pantry at night some puff bread or sweets, and waking up at 4am to go buy a new pack of whatever I had stolen and putting it back onto their shelves so that they wouldn’t notice. Except that one day, my roommate Julie noticed, and she got really mad at me… I can’t blame her though: her favorite chocolate bar that her Dad had sent her from the US had disappeared…

This was becoming ridiculous: not only was I hurting myself, but I was also hurting others… But I still couldn’t help it.

My boyfriend was referring to me as “the fat hen”, which really affected me. But I loved him and I was too afraid to lose him to say something. And part of me agreed with what he was saying…I wasn’t the nice thin girl I used to be a couple years before… I needed to take action.

After moving to London 3 years ago, the food binges were still here, and they were getting worse and worse… I would wake up at night and eat biscuits, cereals, stuff myself up until I was so full that I had no choice but falling back asleep…And waking up the next morning in tears, thinking I was the worst loser on earth, not even deserving to have a life… My job in Investment Banking was super interesting but quite stressful, and when my manager went on maternity leave, I came under quite a lot of pressure. Food was my only remedy. My boyfriend noticed I got depressed, and he was getting angry about it…Threatening to leave me. But he couldn’t understand this bulimia disease…

I tried everything to heal: acupuncture, hypnosis, online therapy…but it wasn’t enough. So 2 years ago, after waking up in tears one morning because I had emptied the fridge the night before, and crying in the toilets at work the whole day, I decided to seek some professional help. I admitted that I couldn’t get through this by myself.

I was gonna solve this once for all, before turning 25….

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