Family and friends who are reading this are probably confused. Wait, seriously? Julia has an eating disorder? Nooooo. Yes, it’s very real and the problem I’m dealing with constantly reminds me that I am far from perfection. It is a personal and relatively new situation of mine, but I feel compelled to share my story with anyone who might need to hear it. I’m in no way trying to gain attention or empathy out of this. I feel that by keeping this reality away from the people I love, I’m living a lie. So, here is my story.

I have tendencies of anorexia nervosa. Before last year, I never gave a second thought about my weight. I was perfectly content with my appearance and figure. Last June, I saw recently-captured family pictures of myself and realized that I had gained some excess weight during my freshman year of college – nothing abnormal. But, those photos made me feel icky and desire a change in my body. Thus, my main summer goal was to get back into shape and lose about 10 pounds. Nothing out of the ordinary. I am petite in stature and have a small frame, so I wasn’t planning on losing a lot.

Me during family photos, June 2014 – 123 pounds

My healthy weight range for my height should have been between roughly 105-110 pounds – not the 123.4 pounds I carried around. The summer I was home from school, I made it a habit to eat nutritious meals and implement daily aerobics into my life . By the end of August, I dropped down to 107 pounds! I was ecstatic! Finally, I was at my fittest and most confident that I had ever felt.

However, calorie counting and number-crunching on the scale became daily obsessions and stressed me out constantly. If I ever went over my calorific goal of 1200 calories per day, my anxiety levels would skyrocket. I just had this overbearing feeling that if I had “junk” food or ate too much of anything that I would instantly gain back the pounds.

Early October - 100 pounds
Early October – 100 pounds

Things got worse. Social outings were no longer fun because “bad” food would be there and tempt the living cravings out of me. I quickly got thinner, dizzier, and more out of breath. I became very sad and depressed. My skin became tighter and my smile was never sincere in pictures. I wanted so desperately to eat freely and enjoy life without all my internal restraints screaming at me. I felt so helpless and alone. I isolated myself from friends. Constantly, my mind was fixated on what I would eat each day and how I could lose more weight.

The blue shirt is actually a skirt that became too loose around my waist.

One day in late October of my sophomore year, I took off my clothes, inhaled deeply, and looked at myself in the mirror. There was my new thigh gap, rib cage, and collar bone – all very much defined….and I was miserable. I weighed 98.5 pounds and felt like crying. I was scared of myself. I knew that if I sunk any lower, I would end up in critical condition.

So, I starting eating hearty again. My dining hall served desserts galore on Halloween night. I consumed so much food (7,000 calories worth to be exact) that evening ….and, initially, it felt fantastic! I felt like I had meat on my bones again. At the same time, however,  the sugar cravings kicked in. Since then, sugary food has given me an incredulous high. I’ll eat exorbitant amount of food in a period of 1-2 hours until I feel sick. I feel numb and out of control when I eat. I sneak and eat food in secret because I don’t want to be judged by others. I gained back 20 pounds in a 2-month period. For the past 6 months, I’ve been struggling with binge eating.

It’s no surprise that my eating habits have landed me back to square one with my weight. But, I am going through counseling to help me get back on track. Food is a part of life but it shouldn’t be controlling one’s mind and body.

I’ve learned that be skinny doesn’t lead to happiness. In fact, I feel more energetic and happy on the heavier side than being too thin. I just want to feel fit and confident without food controlling my life again. It’s a long journey, but I’m willing to eventually conquer this trouble.