From the moment I wake up, I begin interrogating myself. “What did you eat yesterday? Are you going to eat healthy today? Do you have to eat breakfast, or can you skip it? How much do you weigh? Do you look fat?” The probing questions never stop.
As I get ready, I find myself trapped by the mirror judging my body. I pull at my skin, grab at my face, shift angles and suck in my stomach. After several minutes of this, I sigh and force myself to move on. It’s a constant mental battle. Some days, I lose. My whole mood seems to be based on the number that pops up on the scale in the morning.
“Quincy, the scale fluctuates.”
“Quincy, you’re a normal weight.”
“Quincy, you look great, stop worrying about what you eat.”
No matter what people tell me, the doubt and self-hatred won’t go away. I used to be much heavier than I am now—well over a hundred pounds more. I was a fast food addict, binging on fast food several times a day. One day, I said, “Enough.” I began running, eating better, and lost the weight. I tell people “I had an eating disorder.”
The truth is: I still have an eating disorder. Maybe I always will. Food is constantly on my mind—what I’m going to eat, how much I’m going to eat, if people notice what I’m eating, how I look, what I weigh—it’s a constant mental barrage. And it’s exhausting.
I used to stare longingly at other people, wishing I looked like them, thinking they were normal and I wasn’t. One day I decided I couldn’t keep all of my doubts and negative thoughts inside anymore. I started talking about my struggle, and telling my story. Dozens of people reached out, telling me their own experiences and challenges. Slowly, it began to sink in: Many people struggle with their body image, no matter how “good” or “normal” they look. I realized there was relief in confiding, and I was not alone.
Yes, I have an eating disorder. Yes, it’s an every day battle. Yes, I hope that one day I can get better. But, I’m not alone. By talking about it and by being honest with those around me, I can continue to take the steps towards building myself up every morning, not breaking myself down.
I know that if I had a person in my life treating me the way I treat myself, I would have gotten rid of them long ago. It’s time to be a better friend to myself.