This is my first year in my high school career where I could be seen as your average high schooler. I’m a senior now, and so far this year is already going better than any of the previous three years. Since a very young age, I’ve had self-esteem issues, feeling like I was never enough. I had three older siblings to measure up to and friends that were cooler than me. In my mind, no matter what I did, it would never be acceptable or worthy of any praise. Eventually I thought,
“Hey, if I don’t weigh as much as my peers then maybe I would have something I’m good at.” This was my first interaction with my dear old friend, Ed.
Being young and naive, I thought this was a great idea! Ed would make elaborate plans for me all throughout middle school to go on a “diet,” with intense workouts, but I never followed through with them. I guess something in my mind was fighting that voice, something that I can’t quite comprehend. Fast forward to high school– this was my downfall. All three of my siblings were not living at home anymore, I was starting a new school, the pressure was on. Ed came back stronger than ever. I gradually started restricting. I remember for Halloween I was going to go as a minion (I regret many decisions in my life), and part of that costume involved yellow leggings and overall shorts. For some reason, I thought that I should lose a little weight to look better in the costume.
I’ll just restrict until Halloween, then I’ll go back to normal eating.”
Yeah, right, Ed. But I listened because I didn’t know any better. Halloween came along. This was where I considered it the beginning of my eating disorder. Halloween means candy, sweets, junk food. So, since I was food deprived of nutrition at this point, Ed told me, “Hey! Have fun tonight! Eat a ton of junk food! It’ll be great!” Again, great idea, Ed. Genius. So I did what Ed told me. I was at a Halloween party with a small group of friends and I ate until I was stuffed. But it was okay. It had been a while since I had felt like this so it was okay just this one time. My mom drove me home when it the party was over. When I got home I sat in bed for a little while, thinking about everything I had eaten. “LOL, I didn’t say that much. You’re going to be huge tomorrow.” I mean, he had to be right, right? So I decided, yet again, to follow his orders.
That was the first time that I had ever purged. After that had happened, I thought it was just a one time thing, but it became an endless cycle.
My relationship with Ed very quickly became an abusive one, but I endured it, because I thought he was right, and later when I consciously realized this wasn’t fun, I thought I deserved it.
As a person with an eating disorder, Ed takes pride in saying how much weight I’ve lost, or how long he’s been there, and the extremities he’s made me take. After I realized what Ed was, I thought I had to meet certain qualifications to consider myself to actually have an eating disorders. I did a lot of research. More than what I’ve done for any school essay, for sure. I read that I had to be under a certain BMI, it had to be going on for a certain amount of time, and I had to be very dedicated to Ed if I was going to consider myself anorexic, which seemed to be oh so glorified, and the epitome of American beauty (FYI, everyone is an American beauty). What I didn’t know is that you don’t need to have that sort of validation for your problems to be real. I was just as sick mentally that October before Halloween as I was a year later, despite the time gone by and my physical health diminishing.
I remember the day I told my mom I had a problem. I will never forget the stress lifted off my shoulders, and the freedom I had over Ed. I knew I still had to do a lot for his voice to disappear but I was finally standing up for myself. However, admitting I had a problem out loud was not at all an easy task. I had planned it times and times again, but kept pushing it back, as Ed told me to. When I’m really struggling, I remember that sense of peace I felt that day. It validates me that the difficulties I had recovering was definitely worth it.
My Halloween experience isn’t supposed to be a depressing, sob story. It’s something I wish people could learn from. I wish I had understood that this voice talking to me was not doing anything to help me. The goal of that voice was to bring me to my demise. If I had let someone know about how I was feeling, and about Ed, I’m sure I would have had a much better high school experience. That being said, I in no way regret going into treatment. Doing so has made me a much better person all around, and I have definitely learned and experienced things that most teenagers don’t quite understand. It is possible to control Ed, and become merely distant friends with him that you just kind of deal with and you slowly lose touch with. So that’s my brief story of Ed, and I hope that something in this story has helped you!
ED the Voice Contributor: Megan Herbst
I am Megan Herbst and my eating disorder had controlled too much of my life, so now I’m controlling it. It would be incredibly rewarding to turn something so difficult in my life into something others can learn from, so that’s what I’m aiming to do. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable with themselves and I want to help them realize that.