MHAM Post #12: Gina

Like Sammy (who wrote the first piece), Gina has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. It’s honestly difficult for me to even put into words how lucky I am to have known both of them all of this time. 

Growing up, I always had an issue with feeling secure in my friendships. I always believed every friendship I made had an expiration date. Either a time, an experience, an argument, etc that would make us grow apart. 

Gina (and Sammy) have genuinely taught me that I am so delusional for ever thinking that way. We have each had some very difficult, defining moments in our lives, but as cliche as it sounds, we’ve been there for each other through all of it. 

Gina wears a tough exterior that not many see at first glance, and she is often too good at hiding what is going on in her mind at any given time. 

In my opinion, Gina is one of the most intelligent and well-spoken people I know. She doesn’t always take the opportunity to make that known though, which is why I’m so glad she agreed to write this piece. 

Her story is about something a bit different than just generalized anxiety or depression, but it’s just as valid. 

Here it is!!!:

When Krump asked me to do this, I thought it’d make the most sense to write about my experience with an eating disorder. I’ve been hesitant because I [personally] know quite a few people who deal with some type of food/body issue and it’s different for everyone. So i feel like writing about something so specific to me and my body might not be something the majority can relate to. But I guess that’s not the point of this; this is about accepting other people’s struggles and trying to understand someone else’s perspective. My eating disorder might not look like yours. 

I remember people suggesting books to me about other girls who had struggled with eating disorders. I remember feeling frustrated with these books because they portrayed the most extreme examples. Girls who became bone thin and required hospitalization. Girls who only ate carrots and then threw them up (If you know me at all, you know I’m extremely emetophobic!!). I wasn’t that girl and I couldn’t relate to that girl. Since I couldn’t relate to something that I was already resistant to solving, it was easy to dismiss it as not being applicable to me. I would finish the book, the warning, and say “but i’m not that bad”. And I really wasn’t. Something I’ve learned with time is that doesn’t make it okay. I didn’t need to be the worst case scenario to need help. Dealing with the mental issues that surround wanting to starve yourself is still not okay! No matter how much you weigh. I would look at photos of anorexic girls but I didn’t feel like I wanted to look like them. I was slightly underweight and that was enough for me. People told me I was skinny constantly and that was enough for me to stay motivated in my pursuits.  

I eat fairly normally right now, so I feel uncomfortable talking about the “worst” of it. I also don’t think it’s beneficial to anyone to write out the details – especially when it comes to something like losing weight. I did have GERD for 2 straight years, and I want to acknowledge the role my eating disorder played in that. Both in the cause and perpetuating it. A diet of predominantly vodka and tabasco sauce and a need for a real excuse not to eat, respectively.
One aspect of my struggle, that’s remained consistent throughout the past 12 years, is that I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable eating meals around new people. I started a new job in January and I could only eat sliced vegetables for lunch for the first few weeks. I worry people are judging me for eating, noticing how fattening it is. I worry I’ll gain weight and people I barely know will be like “well yeah, she eats pasta for lunch”. It took me over 2 years to eat a full meal in front of my boyfriend’s family. I dread when I’m able to eat guilt-free and someone ruins it by making a comment. It’s often in jest and I recognize that outwardly, but it sticks with me. On a contradictory note, I can easily lie about my food intake to make myself seem more relatable. I’ve found that my food issues alienate other young women. I remember new friends being excited to see me binging on junk food, like it made them feel comfortable, and I replicated that in the form of.. lying? To make them feel better about themselves and me. It’s an extremely nuanced set of issues. 

I’ve dealt with this for over a decade and sometimes I don’t think I ever won’t. It comes in waves and I can’t explain them. Sometimes it’s too easy for me to restrict myself to an extreme and sometimes i desperately want to go back to the comfort that comes with that kind of control but I can’t and I give in to food.