My name is Andrea. I am 26 years old and a recovered anorexic and bulimic. I am Austrian, married to a wonderful Canadian and am living in beautiful BC, Canada. I struggled with eating disorders for six long years and have finally overcome these deadly diseases – and this is my story…
When I was thirteen years old, a girl who was two years older than me, said to me that my face looked weird when I smiled and then she started to laugh. I was very confused; I did not know what to say and I blushed. I had never paid much attention to my smile until that day. When I came home from school, I looked at myself in the mirror. I smiled. I used two mirrors and looked at my smile at different angles. I stared at myself for hours and came to the conclusion that this girl was right: My smile was ugly! I looked ugly when I smiled. And on this day I decided not to smile anymore. It took me almost ten years till I learnt to love my smile again. This happened about three years before my eating disorder developed but it was the first step towards disliking and hating my face and eventually my body.
Around this time, my skin started to get unclear too and I developed acne. I already did not like my face because of my ‘ugly’ smile and having unclear skin made me hate my face even more. I became depressed and cried a lot. I started wearing make up to cover up the red spots on my face. I would not leave the house without putting it on – so ashamed I was of my face. I did not like people looking at me, at my skin – I did not want them to look at what was ‘wrong’ with me.
When I was fifteen years old, I had this thought in my head that I had to lose some weight around my hips. So I began experimenting with diets. By the age of sixteen, I was anorexic. After graduating at the age of eighteen, I became bulimic. I started binging in order to try and fill the emptiness inside of me. I felt disgusted by myself and what I was doing. I was very ashamed and embarrassed of my behaviour. For the longest time I did not tell anyone about my problem and struggled on my own, secretly and in silence.
My turning point was when I met a wonderful man from Canada who is now my husband. In the beginning of our relationship, I didn’t tell him about my eating disorder. I was afraid that if he found out he would leave me. When I was around him, I would eat “normal” and it felt good. For the first time in years I felt “normal”. It took a couple of months till I was ready to tell him about my eating disorder. He had not even noticed and was quite surprised about it. He took me in his arms and said that we would get through this together and that he would always be there for me and do whatever it took to get me healthy again. And today, I am healthy. I am grateful for my body and love myself and my life. And I am thankful that my body has not given up on me after many years of abuse.
My journey to recovery was difficult and I had to take one day after the other. I had setbacks, I had a lot. And every time I fell, I got up again and continued on my journey. I did my best not to look back but forward. Brandon was always there for me and with me, every step of the way. We talked a lot and I told him everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. There were a lot of things I told him that were not pretty, but no matter what I said; his feelings for me did not get any less. He never judged me or my behaviour, no matter what I did.
My husband also taught me to smile again. Now, I actually love my smile. I did not smile on pictures for almost ten years, and now, whenever pictures are taken I am the first one to smile! I am so thankful for having Brandon in my life. His love and support were what I needed to find the strength in me to beat this disorder.
Encouragement for Others
I want you to know that it IS possible to recover. Please don’t give up on yourself.You can get through this! I know. I did it, and so can you!
You can learn to enjoy your life again. Please keep on believing in yourself and continue to be strong. Food and your body are NOT the enemy, even though it sometimes feels like it.
You are a wonderful human being – one day, I know you will be able to see this!
See Andrea’s books at the links below.