“You can make it until dinner time.” That is what I would tell myself every afternoon around 3pm, when the hunger pains began to strike. This is where I believe my restriction began, but at the time, I took no notice. “You don’t want to spoil your dinner” the voice in my head was utterly convincing and completely debilitating.
Of course, after a full day of school, two dance practices, and an afternoon workout I needed more than just a salad and an apple to nourish my body and fuel my mind. Well, the voice took absolutely no notice to these facts. “Look how hard your mom is working to make you such a nice dinner.” It did not listen to logic, it didn’t care that one protein bar would not be enough to ruin my appetite. All I focused on during that time was making it until dinner. It became my mantra, “you can make it.”
I would throw myself into other activities; I became utterly engrossed in school, studying obsessively and barely making time for the activities I previously enjoyed. I was freakishly perfectionistic, more so than I had ever been before. Others took notice. My friends would beg me to take a break, to relax just a little and have some fun; after all, it was my senior year. Yet I refused. My brain needed something to focus on besides the hunger.
So here I was, beginning to restrict my diet and doing nothing but school and exercise. Was I happy? You tell me. I didn’t have time to think about happiness, or appreciate the small joys in life. Yet this is how I wanted to live. I was chasing a superficial goal of obtaining the perfect body and sacrificing my own life for it.
If you feel like you might be starting to slide down this slope of restriction, my top advice is to seek help right away, do not ignore it. You are entitled to your own happiness and the truth is restriction will never lead to true happiness. It made provide you with momentary times of joy, a sense of satisfaction when you make it to dinner without a snack, but it will never lead to a full, rich life. Take control of your eating habits and take it day by day. Fight back against the eating disorder with all that you have. Show that voice in your head that it does not have control over you. It is a mere annoyance but it will not shape how you live and who you are.
I’m writing this now to stand up to that voice in my head. To tell it “No. I cannot make it until dinner.” A seemingly simple statement that makes all the difference.