Eating Disorder: Personal Narrative Essay

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We are often told that ‘looks don't matter’ and that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but sadly, the eyes see what society deems perfect. We hear these sayings over and over, and yet ironically, these very ideas seem to be contradicted by our own society. If we are beautiful no matter our appearance, why does social media promote a certain body type as flawless? If we are beautiful, how come 1-10 young Australians aged 12 to 17 are self-harming because they are unhappy with their appearance? In today's world, in fact, many people struggle with this problem themselves, and for others it can be their best friends, relatives. This is confirmed by statics. The South Australian Government’s Office for Youth commenced an online body image survey for men and women aged 10 to 30. The results presented that 82.9% of respondents had concerns about their bodies; the majority being aged 16 and 17. In this essay, I'm going to share my experience of how I transformed my toxic body image into self-love.

How does it make you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror? Pleased? Not bothered? Unsatisfied? Disgusted? When I was thirteen, it made me feel sick to look at my reflection in the mirror. My stomach would hang out over my belt, and my face was covered in acne. I felt like smashing the reflective glass, in hopes that the monster in it would disappear. My school friends labelled me as the quiet kid in the group, they teased me: “The cat pulled out your tongue”. Yes, I was quiet, but only because of the dark thoughts that tormented and screamed at me every day. They constantly said, “You’re insignificant”, “You’re tragic and worthless”. My head became a prison and I was the prisoner.

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Scrolling through our Instagram feed, we see hundreds of women with size 2 waists and perfectly rounded bottoms. These highly edited images of models flooding our Instagram feed give young teens an unrealistic and warped standard of beauty. We set ourselves goals impossible to reach, and the consequences are devastating.

My life took a turn for the worst when I began running away from my problems, literally. Jogging and the gym became my sanctuary, my escape from the hateful thoughts that consumed my life. When my school friends complemented my slim waistline, I felt driven to look even more like the models I saw on social media. Eventually, exercise was not enough, I wanted to drop the kilos quicker. I began skipping a meal each day, then two, and then I just stopped eating altogether. The time I didn’t spend exercising, I spent forcing myself not to eat. Never in my life had I experienced such little control over my body; I was left in the hands of my evil manipulative, ‘friend’. After hating how I looked for so long, it was easy to give in. For the next two years, I chased the dragon. Into depression and insomnia. Into being intolerable to the cold. Into a suicide attempt and three hospitals. I chased it until all my friends disappeared and my parents dragged me to a physiatrist. I constantly told them not to worry, as what parents actually give a toss about their teenagers. Turns out, mine do. Nowadays, mum says that the real me was so hidden, she had no idea who I was. Honestly, I could not even recognize myself.

The psychiatrist diagnosed me with Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and what they eat. It came as a relief to myself and especially my parents; my condition finally had a name.

You know, right now, you could be sitting next to one of the almost 1 million Australians suffering from an eating disorder. Yet people do not understand how eating disorders take on a life of their own. It is far greater than anything you can control. Larger than you, your own family, and all the things you love. It has nothing to do with food and exercise. What it is, is an illness, an addiction. It fills a void, masks a pain, and forces you to punish and harm yourself.

My recovery has been hard-fought. It took me years of attempting to regain control of my life and body before I was able to modify my eating and exercising behaviors. I will never forget the first time I looked at my own reflection without wanting to see less of it.

From my experience with an eating disorder, I learned how important it is to seek help early if you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Because by speaking out, we can decrease the shame and stigma linked with all eating disorders and give courage to millions of brave survivors.

Social media can send all sorts of messages to young people, creating an image of the ‘ideal body’. These photos we see are edited to create a flawless look. We will only truly understand reality when we look at each other. People come in all shapes and sizes. Despite years of darkness, ironically my eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, provided me with a gift. It gave me the ability to recover and forced me to realize how strong I am. I will forever grateful for what my disorder has taught me about self-love and worth. She was mean and cruel, she kicked me around, but I was able to stand up to her and give her a much-needed hug. I let her know everything was going to be OK. Like all typical mean girls, she just needed to know she was loved.

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Eating Disorder: Personal Narrative Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorder-personal-narrative-essay/
“Eating Disorder: Personal Narrative Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorder-personal-narrative-essay/
Eating Disorder: Personal Narrative Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorder-personal-narrative-essay/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Eating Disorder: Personal Narrative Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/eating-disorder-personal-narrative-essay/
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