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Hi. My name is Tamara, I’m 20 years old, and I’ve had an eating disorder for six years.
It all started when I was 14. At the time, I had extremely low iron and was put on pills to help regulate these levels. These pills made me gain more of an appetite, and I put on a lot of extra weight. I felt very disgusted with myself because I would eat big meals in secret, and after eating, I would feel guilty and depressed. I hated my body.
A year later, I came off the pills and decided that enough was enough, and that I needed to make a change. I started changing my eating habits, doing 20 to 30 minute workouts everyday, and I slowly began to lose weight that year.
I originally started this journey to get into healthier shape, but it had gotten to the point where I had started restricting my calories and weighing myself obsessively everyday. I reached my lowest weight of 117 pounds and was very underweight. For those of you who don’t know me, I'm approximately 5'6" tall; therefore, a healthy or "ideal" weight for me is around 130 pounds.
Around the time of my senior prom was when I discovered alcohol. After graduating from high school, I started drinking more and eating junk food. I spent a month in Europe, eating a whole bunch of unhealthy foods. All the weight I had lost, I gained back, and began to feel depressed again.
In January 2017, I signed up for a gym membership and started working out for an hour, four to five days a week, but didn’t lose any weight. I was bummed that the work I was putting in wasn’t helping me drop the pounds, but I continued to do it because it was something that kept my mind happy. It became a part of my routine, and I felt like I couldn’t live without it.
In September that year I started college, and when things started to get busy, I stopped working out again and lived off of my school’s cafeteria foods.
In October I realized something was wrong and finally decided to see a doctor. I was then diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and a binge-eating disorder. I was put on medication and began seeing a therapist to talk about the issues I was having, and at the time it helped, but then I stopped seeing her and things went off the rails again.
I tried my best to workout when I could, but continued to eat junk. I had so many self-esteem issues that it made me nervous to get intimate with my partner, but thankfully he was so patient and loving about everything, and always reminded me that I was beautiful—no matter what size I was. I was fortunate to have him support me on my journey.
Fast forward a year later in October 2018, I was diagnosed with IBS and high cholesterol. My doctor put me on a diet for a month, and at first, it worked great, but then after a month I gave up and started going back to my regular junk food habits.
My 20th birthday came in December that year, and I binged quite a lot during that month because of the holidays. Again, I felt like crap.
Now it’s February 2019. I’ve been getting back into working out three to four days a week and doing my best to eat a balanced diet where I eat healthy during the day, and eat what I want for dinner, but in smaller portions. I’m also starting to increase my water intake to help fight my cravings.
Last week I stepped on the scale and weighed 144 pounds. I stepped on it yesterday and I’m 140. I’m not exactly where I want to be, but I WILL get there—and this time, it’ll be the right way.
I'm trying my best to remind myself that no matter how much I weigh, the number I see on the scale does not—under any circumstances—determine my worth. I am beautiful no matter what my size is.
Recovery is not easy. There’s a lot of ups and downs. What we need to do is teach ourselves that it’s OK to relapse, as long as we are able to pick ourselves up afterward and keep fighting the fight.
Life is so worth living, and we should not let ourselves get so hung up on what we look like. My goal this year is to not only better myself, but to help other females who are struggling and let them know that they are not alone.
You are all beautiful in your own way. Go out there and embrace what you got!