Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Rebecca's Story

Our Greenville, South Carolina Producer, Rebecca Shafer, shares a glimpse into her struggle with anorexia as part of our Eating Disorders Awareness Week campaign.

As I sit here with a blank cursor, waiting to write a blog about eating disorders I am thinking to myself, "Why did I starve myself for so many years?" "Why did I exercise every calorie I put into my body?" "Why was I consumed with the exact shape of my every inch of body?" 

The answer is simple. My emotions were everywhere and unregulated and I needed a way to survive.  My way to survive was to starve my body, go numb, and not feel anything.  As a result, I also could not think for myself, so my eating disorder thought for me.  And the cycle began.  I starve, my anorexia tells me I'm fat, ugly, unlovable, and worthless, so I go for a run to clear my mind.  Repeat.

Think about it.  Food is a part of everything.  Baptism, to weddings, to funerals.  Celebrations and disappointments.  Food brings friends and family together.  Eating disorders are the ultimate source of division.  

I am anorexia.  I seek to kill.  I take the basics of human existence, food and water, and I create terror.  Terror that if one calorie "too many" is consumed, then my victims whole being is worthless.  Their existence is not only a waste, but a heavy burden to those around them.  An even heavier burden to those who pretend to care or love them.  No one actually cares about my victims, this is the story I engrain into not just their thoughts, but their entire self. Whenever   they try to think of love, joy, or hope, I replace is with weight, calories ingredients, exercise, body image.  It works, too.  Not because anyone allows me in, but because I am stronger than any defense.  Give me enough time and my victim will starve, pass out, and die. I win.  Or better yet, I'll drive her mad and she'll save me the trouble.

In Matilda the Musical there is a song entitled "Quiet" that expresses I believe well what it is like to live with a mental illness.  It speaks of being around others and hearing noises, but comprehending nothing and becoming agitated the noises will not shut up, even after the people are quiet.  

I recommend a listen to it, especially if you know someone suffering. If you are reading this and think someone might be suffering from anorexia, look up the warning signs and develop a plan to help them.  I was blessed with family and friends who expressed their concern, forced me to get treatment, and now I am here to tell you about what it is like to be recovering from an eating disorder. 

This can be everyone's ending, awareness is the first step.