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This is Jade, and she’s fat. That sounds harsh, but it’s actually how she used to introduce herself several years ago when she was bulimic. Now she’s just Jade, who wants to warn you about the dangers of eating disorders. This is what happened to her.
She’d always been a perfectionist. Everything around her was supposed to be perfect – her room, her marks, her looks. And also, her best friend. Her name was Joanne, and they met when they were both 12 years old. Jade thought she was the best friend a girl could hope for – she was smart, supportive and caring. When Jade was in her early teens, her body started changing, and her struggle for perfection got much harder. She thought something was wrong with Jade.
Joanne was still very caring, but Jade noticed that she didn’t feel certain about her support anymore. She was always giving these small, seemingly innocent comments, like: “You know, my aunt gave me a pair of jeans, but they’re too large for me. Maybe you want to take them? They should fit you.” Or: “I admire the way you work so hard! I’ve always thought that being smart is more important than having good looks.” This led Jade to start thinking that she was ugly and fat. The feeling grew day by day, and at some point she decided that the time had come to do something about it. She had to lose weight.
Don’t think she was actually fat. She was absolutely normal – even skinny, but in her imagination she had become a horrible, Godzilla-sized creature. That’s how manipulations and obsessions alter our self-perception. She was the same old Jade, but she was absolutely sure that she had fat everywhere. She decided that she would have to count the number of calories she ate, and stop eating so much. She set a limit of 800 calories per day, but being obsessive, sometimes she didn’t reach even this level. A couple of weeks after she started dieting, Jade lost her appetite completely, and could pass the entire day with just a couple of apples. And she was still sure that she was fat, fat, fat, even though the numbers on the scale went down very quickly.
She managed to stick to her diet for a couple of months before her mother noticed that something was up. In the meantime Joanne continued needling her with her constant bragging about herself, and hinting that she pitied Jade for her (supposed) extra weight. Jade now resembled a skeleton and she knew she had anorexia, but at the time she thought she was close to perfection – just another kilo or two – and she would be ideal. Her mom thought otherwise, and decided to force feed her before it was too late. She ate, and suffered because she had the feeling that she was becoming fat again. She still remembers that sandwich that was particularly gross, and then she asked herself why she didn’t just puke it out.
Ah… That was such an enormous relief! Brushing her teeth afterwards, she thought about why she couldn’t just do that all the time – it would be the perfect solution. Her mom would see that she was eating, but she would still be able to stay thin. This is how she entered the ‘magical’ world of bulimia. It was nice to eat again – she was so stressed out by Joanne, even if she loved her so much, that she needed to eat to calm down her feelings of nervousness. At some point, she passed on to binge eating – she could eat an enormous bowl of pasta or three pizzas in a row, and then throw up just to continue eating!
After several months of this, Jade was in a horrible state. She had awful skin and toothache; she was losing her hair, and had bruises all over her body. Vomiting all day is not a very healthy thing to do. Psychologically she was also unstable – she went from euphoria while eating and puking to desperation while looking at herself in the mirror or talking to Joanne, who gave her priceless advice on how to lose weight even more.
She remembers exactly when she the turning point came however. Joanne started growing, just like she had started to do two years before. Soon she no longer looked perfect, and she decided that she needed the same support Jade did. So, Jade said something like: “Do you need a couple of tips on how to lose weight?” And then Joanne started ranting. “Do you mean binging and vomiting like you do? No thanks, that’s gross! I don’t need to lose any weight – I’ll be perfect whatever happens!” Oh my God, thought Jade. She had been telling her about how to achieve physical perfection for months, she’d literally been saying about how fat Jade was and that she ought to lose weight, and now she came out with this?!
Jade ended her friendship with Joanne. But after this revelation, her desire to binge eat and her hunger became unbearable. She forced Jade to go to a specialized clinic where they deal with conditions like hers. Now, she’s been healthy for a year already, and she’s proud of it. Perfection does not exist!
Music by Epidemic Sound: https://www.epidemicsound.com