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My struggle with my eating disorder started in high school.

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It started with the small voice in my head pointing out my large thighs, my love handles, even my stomach rolls when I sat down. It started with a toxic guy in my life pointing these out, telling me I was heavy, large, that I should stop eating so much.

It started with friends and random people at school telling me how my nickname, one that I did not sign up for, was based on a large, chubby fat boy. It started with family members telling me I got bigger, fatter, and chubbier. It started with friends, friend’s parents, and my own parents, making seemingly harmless comments about what I was eating and how much I was eating. My eating disorder continued with myself. My brain constantly telling me not to eat, to starve, to shred the pounds as quickly as possible. It was brain telling me to see how long I could go without eating (Over 48 hours), to see how far I could push my body to starvation because it felt good. It felt good to me to know I was going to lose weight and be the skinny, beautiful girl plastered all over the world on TV, movies, posters and billboards. It felt good to know I would be skinny enough to prove everyone wrong, to prove that I was beautiful. I used to sit in front of the mirror and pick apart my body. Why were my thighs so big? Why were my calves so big? Why did my arms jiggle so much? Why was my face so chubby? Why did I have so much body fat around my stomach? I was convinced that if I didn’t eat, just worked out as much as possible, I would finally be beautiful and skinny. I would find support on social media, twitter profiles of other girls desperate for the same thing would motivate each other to not eat and find new tips and tricks on how to lose weight more effectively.

She had hit my twitter app on my iPhone and saw my personal twitter profile but accidentally saw the alternate twitter profile that had everything about what I was hiding. It had tweeted to other girls with eating disorders talking about what we were doing and what we should do to lose weight, how we were feeling, how disgusted we were in ourselves. Some really ugly stuff. And she didn’t say anything, just handed my phone back to me and acted like she never saw it. Then after class asked me to come over later and hang out and me, completely oblivious, said yes. She came over later that day and cried in front of me about how she found my page and read what I was doing to myself and how I was feeling. She said she wouldn’t tell anyone but promised that she would always ask me how I was doing. She said that no matter how many years from now, no matter what I’m doing, public or private, she'll just randomly ask me how I was doing. And it meant the world to me that she would care about me that much to constantly check in on me. And she still does to this day. It wasn’t until I graduated and started college that I started to see how much this was slowly going to kill me. My parents and close friends could see the damage I was doing and did all they could to help. I had finally cut things off with this toxic, verbally abusive guy and had fallen for one of my best friends in high school. He loved me and said things to me that made me feel better than I ever had before, made me feel things I never felt before. And soon it started to click in me. I had the most amazing friends that were supporting me and helping me through this time, my parents and sibling who gave me unconditional love, and this loving guy who had chose to be with me. They all loved me for who I was, not what I looked like. After years I slowly started to fight. I deleted the twitter and started to slowly find help from other survivors and people who were going through what I was. I started to become stronger, healthier and better.

I still struggle with this everyday. I will still look in the mirror and pick myself apart, I still hear the voice in my head to stop eating and punish myself for eating, but I’m stronger than that voice. I know how to eat healthier, I control what goes into my body and I never force myself to not eat something. If I want a slice of pizza or a donut, I will eat it. My weight has gone up and down. My body has changed in so many different ways, but it’s my body and I’m proud of it. The stretch marks, the cellulite, the love handles, the belly rolls, it’s a sign of me surviving my fight.

As the NEDA awareness campaign week says, it’s time to talk about it. It’s time to spread awareness that someone is always suffering. But if someone reads this and is inspired to fight, get help or speak up in any way, that’s all I could ever ask for. If you are suffering, struggling or fighting, DO NOT GIVE UP. Learn to love your body, take care of your body and never let anyone’s opinion or comment make you feel any less beautiful than you are. Get help. Fight. Visit the NEDA website to chat with a support team, call (800) 931-2237 or get a free screening. Talk to a friend, coworker, family member, and schoolteacher to get help.

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