10 Ways My Eating Disorder Changed My Perspective On Life

by Shannon Seibert

Just because my ribs weren't countable and my hipbones weren't visible doesn't mean that I wasn't struggling with something much darker.

I am hypersensitive, emotional, easily offended by criticism and attentive to details.

I'll take it to heart if I'm not invited to the prom after party or a sleepover. This isn't my fault; my brain is just programmed this way.

In my head, the idea of being "enough" constantly consumed me.

I wanted to be pretty enough to be popular, smart enough to make the best grades and needed enough for someone to want to be in a relationship with me.

Bulimia was my first committed relationship. My bulimia made me feel more loved, appreciated and noticed than anyone in my life ever had. It was all about me. It was the perfect love that stemmed into an abusive relationship.

In this commitment, I was enough.

Bulimia is an emotional disorder that involves distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight.

It involves extreme overeating followed by depression and self-induced purging or fasting.

Through recovery, I've learned from my addiction. Although there are some lessons specific to my bulimia, most of the truths are applicable to how I believe life should be lived:

1. An easy fix isn't the best fix.

I wanted an immediate change to my image.

That "quick fix" resulted in permanent damage to my body and my brain. I annihilated my metabolism, destroyed my self-confidence and eroded my body's natural defenses.

2. Addictions aren't limited to substances.

This feeling, this need, is a force greater than anything I've ever encountered.

When I ate, I felt guilty and purging was all I could think about. I would go to any measure to get the relief I craved, just like a drug addict.

3. Many people go to therapy and take medication.

Therapy is such an underestimated tool for recovery.

Being able to just toss out your feelings in a judgment-free zone is liberating. To be honest, your therapist probably has the best insight into how you feel and what will best help you.

When you have a fever, you take medicine, so why is it that when you're medicated for a disease in your head, you're crazy? Medication simply corrects an imbalance that others are blessed not to have. There's nothing more to it than that.

4. There is no such thing as normal.

I was picked on a lot in school; small comments about bringing my Game Boy to class in sixth grade were enough to breech my sense of security.

I wasn't invited to many of the parties and I felt left out of most things. I spent most nights crying and asking, "Why don't they like me?" Now, I ask myself, "Why do I even care?"

In therapy, my doctor asked what my goal was for our sessions. I answered, "I want to be normal." She replied, "If only there was such a thing. You have to embrace the fact that you will always be different."

Hands down, it was the best advice I ever received.

5. People won't always understand... and they won't want to.

Talking about the dark and twisted isn't exactly an easy form of conversation.

You'll be unintentionally insulted and people will automatically look at you differently. You'll just have to accept this and move forward.

The same thing goes for any other problem you will encounter. People have their own issues, so they may not want to immerse themselves in yours, but that doesn't mean they won't listen.

6. You are extraordinary.

Self-love is a hard concept for insecure people to grasp. It has taken me year to be able to look in the mirror and not hate the person looking back at me.

You will never look like Beyoncé; Beyoncé doesn't even look like Beyoncé.

But, you are unique. You are a warrior with battle scars and most importantly, you are the person who sets your standard of "beautiful," not society.

Other opinions don't matter in big scheme of things. You're the one who has known your soul your entire life — f*ck people and their judgments.

7. Lying is easy, honesty is hard.

It's easy to say, "I'm fine," and escape to the bathroom, but it's a real challenge to open up about the devil inside. The truth is ugly.

Whether it's with yourself or with others, honesty is important.  So, when someone genuinely asks if you're okay, share how you feel. You'll be relieved to remove the weight from your chest.

8. Every action you take affects more than just you.

When you make choices, you may think that this is only about you, but it never is.

9. You cannot control life.

Bulimia was about having a hold on some part of my life. Ultimately, it had a hold on me. I was the puppet and bulimia held the strings.

There will be curveballs for which you will not be able to prepare when it comes to life. The best thing to do is swing with everything you have and hope for the best.

10. You are not alone.

Since I have been more open about the demons in my closet, I've met people just like me. For everything I've felt, there's someone who can say, "me, too."

So now, when people ask me about the black insignia tattooed on my neck, I'm open about my journey. Since I was able to grow from it, hopefully, someone else will, too.