My eating disorder impacted many different aspects of my life.
It impacted me physically by making me feel weak and faint, impairing my concentration, making my hair so brittle it would fall out, making my exteriors cold and making me thin and fragile.
It impacted me mentally and emotionally by making me aggressive toward my loved ones and myself. It impacted me by degrading my self esteem to the point where I thought my worth was determined by my weight and my looks.
Today I want to talk about the SOCIAL impact of an eating disorder and how recovery has helped me build some beautiful and precious friendships.
Living with an eating disorder for 5 years impacted my social life substantially. Throughout high school I would be invited to gatherings or parties or picnics and I would always manage to find an excuse as to why I couldn’t go. I would say I already had something organised, or I had something else on, or I was sick, or I’d had a big week. I always found a way to explain away my anti-social behaviour which was a product of my eating disorder.
My disorder made me frightened of social situations. I would fret about the food that may or may not be there. I would fret about what people would ask me. I would fret about being around people who were intoxicated. So instead of challenging my disordered behaviours, for 5 years I indulged them and lied to my friends and those I cared about. For 5 years I missed out on enjoyment, freedom and fun because my disorder made me scared and I allowed it to win. I missed out on delicious food, conversations, laughter, dancing because my disorder was in control.
Recovery has breathed new life into my social world. I am actually not a fan of the typical teenage parties. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke and as I’m an early riser naturally I tend to get quite sleepy much earlier than most teenagers or young adults my age. However, I HAVE been able to enjoy social gatherings which I couldn’t have done before. I have been able to go out to dinner with cherished friends and not worry about what I am ordering on the menu. I have been able to go out to dinner and not continue checking the clock because I want to race home. I have been able to converse naturally with people without losing concentration or becoming anxious about food.
Most importantly I have come to realise how crucial good friends are in the recovery process. The other day I went for breakfast with my former tutor turned best friend. I came home with a smile plastered on my face and my boyfriend couldn’t help but comment on how happy and content I looked. I felt free and content and I had had an amazing time conversing and eating and laughing with a wonderful woman.
Choose your friends carefully and cherish them as you would a sibling or parent. My friends are what I call my “happy medicine”. They make me laugh, they make me feel liberated, they make me feel confident in myself and they make me feel loved.