'How I Told My Dad About My Eating Disorder'
10 months ago, 15 Dec 21:19
"Condition Confessions" is a new series by Women's Health, where we'll be asking women how they told their friends, significant others, family members, and colleagues about their health conditions. If you find yourself in a similar situation, we hope these stories will help you be open, honest, and prepared. Now’s as good a time as any, I thought to myself. I was sitting in the car with my dad on the way home from a college football game at the University of Florida, where I was a third-year student. I knew that once I told him about my ongoing struggle with anorexia and bulimia, our relationship would never quite be the same. But I also knew that I couldn’t keep this part of me from the guy I call my father and my friend. Could I? My eating disorder story started years prior in a dance studio. Growing up, it was my second home. My mom was a professional ballet dancer for years, and my dad had worked in theatre. The passion I had for performing was in my DNA. My mom, coming from a dance background herself, always encouraged me to eat healthy and keep my body in shape for dance. She knew how much I loved dancing, and she never wanted me to have a reason to feel self-conscious. She knew what that could lead to—she was bulimic for more than 10 years when she was younger. I was 13 when she told me that, and I couldn’t imagine getting to the point of throwing up everything that you ate. But around my sophomore year of high school, when talk of desperately wanting to be skinnier filled the halls of my dance studio, a thought crossed my mind for the first time: I need to change. I started looking at myself in those floor-to-ceiling mirrors in a different way. I stared at my legs, thick with muscle. I saw the bulge of skin under my arm, poking out of my sports bra. I saw breasts where I wanted to see protruding collar bones. I nit-picked myself so much that I started skipping meals. I wasn’t the only one. About a dozen girls at my studio, most of whom I had known since pre-school, created this culture of degrading our 15-year-old selves. We would stand at the mirror and talk about what parts we hated about our bodies. We all knew that all of us were either starving or purging, but we would never admit it to each other. This is what it's like to suffer from depression: Slowly, my sporadic meal-skipping escalated until it became a combination of anorexia and bulimia. Every day, I woke up and skipped breakfast. For lunch, I picked at the lunch my mom packed me, and I threw the rest away. After school, I spent four hours dancing in the studio. Then, I went home and ate dinner with my family. I worked out in my room, and almost immediately after, I threw ...
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