This is the 69th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Amanda struggled with food and it was all she thought about, but with the help of loved ones she overcame her mental disorder. This is her story:
Amanda is from California and she loves reading, all kinds of books and is a big movie lover especially horror movies and the occasional romance. She is also training in boxing. She wants to be successful in life, she said, “I want to become a psychologist and see myself in college studying for that in 5 years.” Amanda was diagnosed by a psychologist and doctor with anorexia nervosa and has been 2 years clean.
She believes her mental disorder was caused by a buildup of events, but there was one particular event that really impacted her. She said, “I do know my breaking point was in 7th grade. Physical fitness testing was coming up and I did well in most of the areas we were being tested in. However, I was considered “overweight” according to the BMI scale. My PE teacher showed us a chart that showed where we were “supposed” to be weight wise. Looking back now, I see that it was inaccurate. But I was a very insecure 7th grader.” This event impacted Amanda immensely because she was going through puberty and she cared deeply about her physical appearance and what the rest of her peers thought of her. Not only that, but she also said:
“I was also never considered the pretty girl and that also lowered my self-esteem greatly. I incorrectly thought that my appearance was all that mattered. I started paying more attention to the mirror and comparing myself to everyone. I started thinking I saw fat where there wasn’t any and started nitpicking at all my flaws. I thought if I lost weight I would feel happier and that my life would be so much better. It started small, but soon spiraled out of my control.”
Amanda ended up receiving weekly therapies and went to a specialized clinic for eating disorders to watch over her physical health. She ended up feeling a wide range of symptoms associated with anorexia. She said, “I had an unhealthy relationship and obsession with food. My whole life revolved around food and it was all I thought about. I thought of ways to hide food, ways to avoid eating, calories in everything, how long I needed to exercise if I wanted to eat, and anything food related. I worked out to the point of near exhaustion and I restricted myself.” Amanda also dealt with physical symptoms such as, hair loss, dull skin, and her period stopped. She was constantly always cold, and felt irritated or annoyed for little reasons.
Her daily life became affected by her negative behaviors because she did not care about anything other than food and her physical appearance. Her school became affected as do did her relationships with her loved ones. They could not understand why Amanda wasn’t eating. Amanda turned to self-harm as a copping mechanism that she hid from everyone and she constantly thought about dying, but thankfully never attempted it. She ended up isolating herself from everyone because people could not understand why she was down all the time. Because of this Amanda felt hopeless and trapped, she said, “I felt like no one would be able to help me and that I didn’t deserve the help. I felt like my eating disorder would always have a grip on my life and that I would never escape from its hold on me.”
Amanda’s turning point to overcome her anorexia was when she saw the affect it was having on her loved ones. She said, “My little sister started asking questions about weight and why I wouldn’t eat. My mom and grandparents were losing sleep and I was all they thought and stressed about. I realized that I needed to change and get help if not for me, then for the people I loved.” The strategies she used to beat her mental illness was to do everything her doctor and therapist told her to do. Amanda said, “I ate when I was supposed to, and stopped over-exercising. I also tried to find one thing I liked about myself every day. There were still times when it was hard to keep going, but thinking about my motivation and why I was getting better in the first place helped me to pull through.”
This is the lesson she learned from this ordeal:
“My eating disorder taught me a lot, but the biggest lesson I would say I learned is that people are fragile. Always be careful what you say to others and how you treat them because you don’t know what a person could be going through or what can send them over the edge. People aren’t as strong as they want you to think they are, so just be kind.”
This experience has changed her for the better. Amanda is now more understanding of other people’s situations and has a positive outlook in life, she tries not to dwell on the negative. She now maintains herself busy and is happier, she said, “I make sure that I am balanced in what I eat. I don’t restrict myself at all. I also exercise and found a passion for boxing and it reminds me to take care of my body and my mind. I don’t deprive myself from anything. If I want ice cream, I’ll eat ice cream because there’s no harm in having it every once in a while. And I just make sure to keep my confidence level up by doing what I love and what I am good at.”
This is her advice for others struggling with anorexia nervosa:
“For anyone struggling with this, you are strong and beautiful and perfect and don’t need to restrict yourself. You deserve a happy and healthy life free of this and are worth so much more than what you’re going through. You can beat this! Stay strong and remember that you are capable of defeating this. I wish you luck, joy, and love in your life. Good luck on your road to recovery, you can do this. “My worst days in recovery are better than my best days in relapse.”
It’s amazing that Amanda was able to recover and now if living a mental y physically healthy life. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place to vent out and recieve advice feel free to become a member of the Mental Illness Recovery Series Group on Facebook.