I used to have a “healthy lifestyle” blog at healthandhappinessinLA.blogspot.com that I started when I moved out to LA and wrote for two years (until January 2012). I mostly wrote about how healthy I was eating, how much I was exercising, my cute outfits, and how busy I was. Since then I’ve gone through a year of therapy for my eating disorder (and completed my program). I recently went through some posts and it was interesting and horrifying to see how I presented my life versus what I was really going through. So I’m going to show you some posts and tell you what was really happening at the time. I hope this will show you:
1) You never know what people are really going through.
2) People present idealized versions of themselves in person and especially on the internet. Everyone who makes you feel bad about yourself is full of shit. Everyone is full of shit.
3) If you’ve gone through any of this, you are not anywhere to close to being alone. I think if I knew how fucked-up everyone else was and how hard it was for so many other people I wouldn’t have felt so horribly, awfully lonely for so many years.
First, as an introduction, my eating disorder began when I was 12. Over the years it shifted from restriction to binging and purging and back again (I’ve since figured out that when I was manic, I’d restrict, and when I was depressed I’d binge and purge). Sometimes I look at pictures and can’t believe that nobody noticed I had an eating disorder. Sorry I don’t have any skeletal photos but this is my real-life experience, not a Lifetime special.
When I saw the photos from my college graduation I hated how fat I looked in them. Which, I hope you can tell, is insane. I had awful stomachaches all the time because paradoxically my body become so accustomed to starving that eating was painful. But I was moving to Hollywood and I wanted people to like me.
Onto the blog.
In this post from October 2010 I mention some things I bought at Target and I posted this picture (which is still my Twitter profile picture and I’ll probably never change it because it’s meaningful to me for so many reasons):
Do you know why I have sunglasses on? Because I had bruises all around my eyes from making myself throw up. It was the worst weekend of my life - I purged so many times that the whole next day I was in a fog, until I finally realized that I couldn’t live like this anymore. I could live with being fatter than I wanted but I actually could not keep living in this awful cycle of binging, purging, restricting, hating myself, and doing it all over again. It was my rock bottom of sorts.
In this post from July 2012 I talk about seeing my family in Florida, what I ate at my grandpa’s birthday (and it looks very healthy) and how much I love my brothers. You know what I didn’t say? How I was on the tail end of the most awful depression of my life and my brother had just had a (very nice) talk with me about how I really needed to take a shower every day. I’d been at my dad’s house for an entire month because I could not take care of myself. I had gained some weight while I had been depressed for the last two months and I thought I had ruined my entire life. Because fat girls don’t get jobs in Hollywood. I was probably like a size six. Which equals death.
Here’s a post about my True Religion jeans (size zero, of course). And it actually made me sad when I just looked at it, because I look really cute in the first picture and I wished I could still wear those, but I recently sold them on ebay because I’m not ever going to fit in them again. Sometimes I wish I could, because I am bad at accepting myself the way I am, even though Jesus Christ I swear I am trying. I included this picture from New Years 2010/11:
I felt so fat that night. See how cranky I am? I took a BUNCH of pictures because I kept thinking I looked fat in them. Those pants were tight and low-cut and I felt like a giant fat person. Which is fucking ridiculous. If you look at that picture and think that girl is fat you’re fucked-up. Which I was.
Here’s a fun post about the great time I had at Disneyland! What I don’t tell you is that I felt really embarrassed because my aunt and cousin hadn’t seen me in a long time and they were so skinny and I knew they were wondering how I got so fat.
And just a couple weeks later I blogged about the great time I was having with my brother and his girlfriend when they came to visit.
Don’t we look happy? But what I didn’t say is that on this trip he told me I should watch what I was eating and work out harder. Well-intentioned, but not good for someone who has terrible self-image problems. You’ll see that pictures of me get more and more covered up because I didn’t want people to see how fat I was. Layers of shirts and jackets, scarves.
And here I am in April 2011 talking about my new invigorated love for exercise. What I didn’t say (but also didn’t realize at the time) is that I was having a manic period. I was sleeping a few hours a night, feeling invincible, totally obsessed and one-track mind. It ended, of course, but not before I pulled a muscle and fucked up my wrist (permanently, I might add) because when you’re manic you have no fucking idea what you’re really capable of.
Oh here’s a fun picture from November 2010 - I’m crossing my arms so you won’t see how fat I am! That sounds like a joke but I’m not joking. I felt way super fat at this time because I had to put my old size 6 jeans back on since I stopped making myself throw up the month before.
I feel like I shouldn’t make this stuff public. I’ve heard that if you are open about these kind of problems, that’s all people will think about you. That I should keep it to myself. Sure, I’ve been open about (and made tons of jokes about) my depression, but maybe you don’t know that I’m actually on a mood stabilizer for bipolar II. I haven’t told you that because it’s not as normal and acceptable as depression. It makes me weird. And unless you’re one of my close friends, I probably didn’t tell you that I developed an eating disorder when I was 12 and have fought it ever since. And a year ago I wouldn’t have told you that at all, even if you were my closest friend. Or my mom. I don’t want you guys to know these things about me. Or think differently about me. But I also feel a hugely overwhelming need to talk about it because I’m sick of acting like this shit is weird and I can’t stand that anybody else would feel alone because I didn’t talk about it. I have felt super alone and weird and gross for a long time. Still do. I’m afraid that people will read this and pity me and think differently of me. I’m more afraid that people will ignore this huge confession altogether.
But in the end, I’m actually not writing this for anyone else. I really feel the need to write about it and put the pieces of my life together. I’m done with therapy now and I wish I had gone through it so much sooner. Now the only thing I can do is to try and talk about it and change our culture in any tiny way that I can. The thing that sucks is that I’m not sure I can help anyone by being honest about it. Past me wouldn’t have listened to present me because I would take one look at me and say no way would I take some fat bitch’s advice because what the fuck does she know. (I didn’t like my Pilates DVD because I thought the instructor was too fat. A PILATES INSTRUCTOR.) And what also sucks is that when a boy I like doesn’t like me or I am disappointed in my acting career I blame it on that age-old culprit, my body. If only I were thinner, people would like me (even though I guarantee you people did not like me any more when I was 110 pounds). If only I were thinner, I’d be more successful (I played a Cheerio on Glee when I was a size 4 and they didn’t ask me back, I figured because they had to search to find a costume big enough to fit me).
I don’t know much about how to be a skinny perfect person who everyone admires. But I do know a lot about being a really unhappy person with an eating disorder and a lot of hate for myself. And I know that I fucking lied about it to everyone and also all over the internet. At least I’ve remedied that last part now.
Even when you see these kind of stories in the media, “success” stories maybe, they end with a picture of the author who is now thin but in a healthy way. This story doesn’t end like that. It ends with a photo of me that I dramatically took in my bedroom, big butt and all, and the knowledge that I am a fuckton healthier and happier now than I was before. Take that, stupid “healthy living” blog.
All right I have to just publish this or I’m not going to. I’m so nervous I could throw up. JK I don’t do that anymore! Jeez you guys, that’s what this whole essay was about.