Work In Progress

I was taught from a very young age that being thin was the “ideal” standard of beauty. “You’re so tall and thin – you could be a model when you grow up!” This comment was typical, as I had always been tall for my age.

My parents divorced when I was 11. Around this time I noticed my hips getting wider and my figure becoming fuller. I felt myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable in my own skin, and when I was 13 I began to diet. The sense of accomplishment I gained from losing weight quickly became an addiction. When my weight dropped, I felt high. When it went up, I fell into a state of despair. The numbers on the scale were dictating my self worth, and the love/hate relationship I had developed with my body consumed me. I began to isolate myself from my family and sought comfort and happiness in my eating disorder.

Making the decision to ask for help was extremely difficult. To me, recovery meant getting fat. I was 14 and didn’t understand that my eating disorder was comprised of factors other than my weight and size. What I did understand was that I felt physically and emotionally exhausted, and I wasn’t sure if I could take it anymore. I confronted my family and was admitted to the Outpatient Eating Disorder Program in Oakville, Ontario.

It took several years of hard work and reflection to break the cycle of self-destruction I had been so caught up in. I eventually understood that my obsession with my weight was a desperate attempt to gain control over something – anything – in my life. When I was 17 I realized that my parents’ divorce is what set my eating disorder in motion. Now, at 25, I realize that any significant change in my life can prompt unhealthy eating. I am a work in progress, but I am mindful of my weaknesses and pay recognition to my strengths.

When I feel as though I am struggling I seek support from my family and friends, who are incredibly patient and understanding. They love me despite all my imperfections, and it reminds me that I owe it to myself to do the same.

Andrea is a recent graduate pursuing a career in Human Resources. She lives in Mississauga, ON.