Family diets were the norm when Faith was a child

Today Faith is recovering from an eating disorder and getting her life back. She says recovery is hard but is her best decision by far.

Family diets were the norm when Faith was a child

Family diets were the norm when Faith was a child

I usually say it all started in 2020 when I was 14, but I don’t know if that’s true. I mean, yeah, that’s when I began to lose weight, but I hated myself well before then. My family had been on and off “family diets” since I was young. I started being, by society’s standards, a bigger girl in third grade. Or maybe I became bigger after I broke my arm in second grade. I am not sure if that is where the self-hatred came from, but I know that my depression and anxiety started then.
Even though I had gone on diets with my family on and off for years, my actual weight loss journey started on April 8, 2020. A date I will never forget. Now, full disclaimer: I will not describe what I did to lose weight because I know how competitive these eating disorders are, as well as how easy they can hide.
The loss started okay. The idea was to work on it then because school was shut down, and we had to do three hours of physical activity a week, including the gym. I contacted my doctor about how much I should weigh. In hindsight, someone should have reminded me there is no one piece of information you can give that says if you are healthy or not.

I refused to stay still unless forced

I used the given number as a goal—a goal I know now was not a good one. I did what people typically tell you to do to be healthy and only checked my weight once a week (except weeks I had my period). The loss was very, very slow. It was frustrating sometimes, but I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight. It went on like that until August of that year.
Until my mom and I went on a trip. We were careful of all the COVID restrictions, wore masks, and used hand sanitiser everywhere but our hotel room.
When we got back home, I rechecked my weight. I had gained back all the weight I had lost up to then. I was terrified of what that meant for my weight loss. I was told about a weight loss app from my therapist. That part was a bit ironic, looking back, because two months before, I refused to join a program that my grandma recommended to me because of its connection to eating disorders.
I weighed every day. I pushed myself as far as possible. I pushed until I would feel like dying because of what I was doing. No matter what I was doing, I thought of my activities, food, and weight loss. I refused to stay still unless forced.

My hair was falling out, but people were saying I looked healthy

My grades dropped a little. Adults in my life started copying what I was doing at a lower level. That just pushed me harder. When I went back to school, the popular and cool kids talked to me in a nice way on top of that. People now say this was because I was confident. I wasn’t; I still hated myself.
My hair started falling out, and I was light-headed, always tired, and always hungry. But it didn’t matter. I was told I looked healthy, and people were impressed/proud of me.
Why would I give that up for anything? Everyone seemed to like me and wanted to spend more time with me. Their problem was that they treated people differently based on their looks. That summer was painful.
I kept competing with myself to do more. My body always hurt. Binges started, but they were irregular. If anything, that made them scarier. To compensate for them, I would do things I had never imagined I would do to myself. It didn’t matter.

I was caught in a binge purge cycle

When school started again, the binges became daily: Binge, purge, binge, purge—every. single. day. Binge purge, binge-purge, binge-purge. My mom and I would get into fights. I couldn’t control the binge-purge cycle, and she didn’t understand it. She said I was wasting food.
We had three or four fights before the big one. We screamed at each other. I ran and hid, tried to give in to my depression, and kind of did give into my depression. I listened to my mom and grandma screaming at each other, Mom telling Grandma to leave me alone. I went downstairs to find my grandma packing. I saw my mom crying in the bathroom. I had to steal my grandma’s keys.
I ended up showing Mom what I had done when hiding. I had done things like that for about a year. The eating disorder behaviours began when people started trying to force me to eat more.

Seeking help for my eating disorder

I told my therapist I thought I had a binge eating disorder. She said she didn’t know how to help, so I had to find someone else. I got connected to an eating disorder specialist, a nutritionist, and a new therapist at The Healing Connection. The first thing I asked each of them was, “How long until I get my old body back?”
They gave me a meal plan that was scary but helpful. I stuck with all of that for about a year and a half. And in that time, my diagnosis changed to atypical anorexia nervosa. That is when I ended up going to a partial hospitalisation program (PHP). I was there for about six weeks. I went back with the same team afterwards. The only difference was I began seeing a new nutritionist through the college I started attending that year. I only met with her once, where she said things that should not be said to someone with an eating disorder. I was told I no longer needed a nutritionist after that.

Now I can wear shorts, swim and do many other things

Recovering so far has been the hardest thing I have done. But it is still the best decision I ever made. It might not seem like I decided, but I did. Recover, or die. Because one way or another, if I did not enter recovery, that would have been my fate. I missed so many things that could have been amazing. But it is worth it. And it did matter.
I still talk to some people I met in PHP. Two years later, I am able to wear shorts, swim and do many other things my eating disorder had stopped me from doing.
My battle is not over, but now I know I will win the war.

Faith Manchester

About Faith Manchester

All articles by Faith Manchester

I am currently a college student, but when I graduate, I plan to get a job where I can help people. Since I was in the third grade, I have had a strong desire to help others and fight for issues in which I believe. That passion has not left me; I do not think it ever will. I have already created my own website to help others. My website is for people with eating disorders, their supporters, and the general public. Through my website, I found and connecting like this is helping to get my story out there. I have already shared it with many influential people in the eating disorder community and presented it at my school. I do not know the fate of this site, but I hope that whatever happens, someone is helped in some way.

Leave a Reply