Finding Purpose by Robyn, 17

Part I

“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself.” – Geneen Roth

shutterstock_181273337I’m 17 years old and I’m a recovering anorexic, and have been for 3 years.

I am going to take you through a journey that changed my life. I experienced first hand the brutality of the human mind that I wouldn’t want anyone to ever experience; though I am aware it is, sadly, a lot more common than people realize.

During the majority of my childhood I had experienced a vast amount of low self-esteem, considering myself to have no value. I believe this was built due to the environment I grew up in: repeatedly being told how fat I was, and people who I initially thought were my friends making fun out of me because I wasn’t particularly the most nicest looking and I began getting pimples at a fairly young age. My parents were consistently speaking about the importance of weight and the “ideal” for a child of my age. They were also very critical about themselves and their appearance, and to be raised in such an environment is awfully infectious. This mentality stuck with me and I grew up with a sense of self-doubt, towards my actions as well as my appearance: Do I look different to others? Should I look a certain way? What are other people doing that I’m not?

Continually seeking approval from people became a habit. I should have taken my parents advice and kept an eye on the quality and quantity of the food I was consuming but I had other priorities like school, going out with my friends, and going to sleepovers. I relied on my parents to feed me well but what they ate, I ate – and I can safely say they didn’t practice what they preached.

I soon became very “uncomfortable” within myself; I felt too ashamed to do any physical exercise and like many others, I turned to food for comfort – my mother’s famous rice pudding that was covered with a coat of sugar, pizza smothered in my favourite ketchup, and enough Astro Belt sweets to tie around Jupiter. Before I knew it, I was overweight. Being an overweight child in primary and secondary school is not easy; I came to realise that when I became a victim of bullying. Scarring comments about my appearance were made on a daily basis; school became an enemy rather than a place of self-growth and enjoyment.

I built a solid shield around me, where I locked in every single criticism; I chose not to retaliate on those who hurt me. When I was 14, I began to dwell on every insult and judgment I received, and I was haunted by dark thoughts. The more I was told how fat I was, how the size of my thighs were too big, and how the ‘elephantitis’ in my legs was disgusting*, the more I began to believe it and soon my reasons for living became difficult to put into context – every imperfection was being highlighted and I felt humiliated within myself. I was suffering and needed some form of guidance and clarity so I decided to approach my father, seeking for his advice, but it was obvious that he did not understand. I knew I needed some form of counselling for the self-hatred I was beginning to feel towards myself, help with stopping the emotion of hopelessness from escalating, and getting the better of me. My father could not accept the fact his daughter needed clinical help and was on the border of depression. He dismissed almost every emotion I was feeling as “typical teenage behaviour.” It wasn’t until I cried with desperation that he agreed to take me to my local GP, where I could then seek professional help.

After the assessment process – which I’m not too fond of, but we can go in to that another time – I was then referred to an organization that focuses heavily on mental health. During my counselling sessions that I was receiving for ‘low self-esteem’, I was curious about suicide and subconsciously hurting myself, but never did I expect it escalate to the extent that it did. I was almost certain that this wasn’t just “typical teenage behaviour.”

Several sessions of counselling passed, when I then decided to join my local gym and change my eating habits, as that was primarily, I thought, my greatest problem – my body. Ironically, my intention to become “healthy” was one that ended up being self-inflicted torture.

*This was not a clinical diagnosis; I guess a girl in my class had done her research on the best way to describe how disgusting my legs were.

Robyn on Twitter: @robynmyp

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One Comment on “Finding Purpose by Robyn, 17”

  1. themind3434 Says:

    Everyone has their own battles to fight, but those who win will have a story to tell. I wish the best for you, and be strong for yourself and those who love u.

    Reply

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