Teen fights war with body image


Guest Writer

I have never thought of myself as someone who has a mental illness, or really, any illness at all. I have always believed I am a person with few struggles and that there is nothing “wrong” with me. I am not an underprivileged person, I do not face racial discrimination, and I do not have any physical or mental disabilities. It may seem like there is no challenge, setback or failure that has occurred in my life to force change or growth, but the biggest challenge of my life is overcoming my eating disorder.
I used to have no cares about my appearance; I just lived my life without worries. When I was a fourteen-year-old freshman, my so-called “best friend” would constantly make comments about my weight and appearance. She claimed they were “just jokes,” and I did not feel like there was anything wrong with my body, so I let it go in one ear and out the other, but the “jokes” never stopped. They seemed to be prevalent in settings where other girls or boys were around. Maybe she did that to make herself look better, or maybe she really meant it. I may never know the answer to that. Eventually, we stopped being friends.
Now, eighteen years old and in my senior year, I deal with the damage she dealt me every single day. I struggle with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Within a few months during my sophomore year, I lost over 20 pounds without even knowing it because I was not able to see the changes in my body. I was obsessed with calories, checking every nutrition label and keeping track of my caloric intake. I fasted, and I strived for a caloric deficit but not for the right, “health and fitness” reasons. Still, I stay aware of my caloric intake. It is a constant and deteriorating cycle.
Throughout the past year and a half, I have become devoted to my physical fitness at the gym. I believe that picking up a hobby like a weightlifting has helped me to overcome my eating disorder. Now, do not get me wrong– I still struggle with the aspects of it. I still have the natural instinct to check the nutrition facts of the food and drinks I consume, to avoid sugary drinks, my personal fear food, to limit my food intake or purge after eating too much, and so much more, but going to the gym has helped me take my mind off of the chaos running through my brain at all times and has also helped me create a body I am slowly feeling more and more comfortable and confident in. Sticking to the routine of pushing myself, breaking a sweat, and seeing the progress I have made has helped me tremendously physically and mentally.
I have never felt comfortable opening up to people about my struggles; I have not even told my own parents. I did not choose to, nor ever intended to, develop an eating disorder. I wish that I could live my life worry-free about my appearance. It is draining to never know how I actually look when I stand in front of the mirror. I see a body that I hate, no matter how many people tell me otherwise. If my former best friend had never commented on my weight or made jokes about my appearance, maybe I would not struggle with what I do. Despite my struggles and worries, I live my life to the best of my ability. I have to overcome the feelings of guilt and sadness, but it is a war with my own body every day.