My name is Caitlin and I suffered from severe anorexia nervosa from the age of 18 to 19. Prior to this I was a healthy swimmer - at 5'7", weighing around 130 lbs. However when a shoulder injury put my swimming on hold (which I was doing excessively), concern about weight gain, low self-esteem and poor coping skills spiraled into anorexia. Before long, I was down to a dangerous 98 lbs. Then the anorexia unravelled into bulimia, as I continued to not be able to exercise and started purging. This lasted for three long years, from 19 years-old to 22.
Thankfully today, at 23, I can say that I have overcome these mental illnesses.
An eating disorder is about so much more that just being skinny. And telling someone who suffers to just "suck it up and eat" or "live a little" - like my family use to say to me - though well-intended, misses the point. This is a mental illness that has you firmly in its grasp. An illness that underlying, perhaps even unconscious, emotional issues and poor coping skills have set the stage for developing. Furthermore, it varies from person to person. This is what my experience has taught me.
However, I've also learned that recovery from an eating disorder is possible. I know that these illnesses can make you feel helpless, but I want people to know that they are not alone and that they can survive an eating disorder, just as I did. I understand the darkness that they are currently navigating, but I want them to remain hopeful. I overcame my eating disorders and so can they...