In the fall of 2020 M.T. came to the “Hidden Likes” youth house in Sofia, Bulgaria with an eating disorder. At first, she was hesitant and even a bit skeptical, but after a few visits she began to relax and to feel comfortable. In the beginning she attended mainly the group activities, after a while she started going to the individual consultations as well. Bellow, is her personal story of the struggles she faced having to deal with this disorder and the hope she sees inspite of it.
The ugly illness that started beautifully
Usually, when a person gets a disease the first symptoms that the body feels are unpleasant. However, in the case of eating disorders that is not the case. Euphoria, rush of energy, feeling of lightness in the stomach… a deceptively happy mood.
This is how my story began. After my graduation from elementary school I said to myself that I am too old for the ballet school I went to and decided its time for something new: some kids started taking up acting, art, and I turned to Diets. And they truly became my favorite extracurricular activity, a hobby to which I devoted all my free time, was very interested and “cultivated” in.
The years I spend in this cultivation were passing imperceptibly and my passion to experiment with my body, drinking different “potions” and reading in forums about women on a diet, grew with each passing day and every lost pound. Looking so innocent on the outside, me loosing weight between the 11 and 14 years of age was “the beautiful part” of an ugly disease which I never thought I’d have to go through.
It came a moment when the illusion shattered. I was ashamed of my body, constantly comparing myself to other girls, the image of my legs in the mirror… all of that caused me to panic. I was trapped, the ugliness came with full force, filling my days.
It was like with every new day I was losing my mind, only when I dreamed was I able to feel happy, reality gave agony, sorrow, hopelessness. The flow of thoughts of what I was doing wrong to feel in this disgusting way, why my friends cut ties with me, the constants fights and insults between me and my parents – all of that drained my energy, led to me to a state of mind where I just wanted to be done with everything. And inspite all of this the reason for my condition was there, thanks to me and me alone: you might say that this is absurd and since I know this then why don’t I just stop it?!
Truth is you can’t. The “demon” of the disease has captured your mind and slowly you become his subordinate. After it has taken your thoughts, the disease turns to your body: now what you see in the mirror is so unpleasant yet its not even that important anymore. Falling hair, yellow skin, nails breaking, bad teeth… and all of this because of the food, that same food, that makes the body alive. Her majesty the food – my biggest horror, a companion in solitude, best friend and most horrific fear.
Anorexia and bulimia lead the mind to addiction, equal to the one caused by opiates. This is something that we rarely realize. Falling in the trap of an eating disorder I lost my mind, I lived as if on autopilot, I determined my daily life according to what and when I could eat, when it would be convenient time for me to “take my dose”. So today, with all my heart I want to break the stigma of these disorders and to help others who are fighting with this daily nightmare, boys and girls, because there are so many of them, hidden in their rooms, captives of the disease.
The most important thing I realized about myself after all these years is that the shame of wrongdoing, the self-isolation you get into because of guilt doesn’t help.
The support during the healing process is vital: to have the space in which to admit your problems without being judged, and labeled helps more than a dozen pills. For me this space was provided by the “Hidden Likes” youth house in which I felt something more than just understanding, I got to be myself. This is a place where people who seek support could meet not only with specialists but also with people like them – sharing the same problems and fears. In the “Hidden Likes” youth house you can never feel guilty for talking to a professional as if “you’re crazy”. On the contrary, stepping in there you feel like you’ve gone to a friend’s house. The atmosphere that I felt was one from a burning fireplace: cozy, warm and calm. If you are ready to get out of the disease’s darkness, feel welcomed to come and meet with people who, without any judgement or blame will help and support you in the process of going through something like this. The road ahead can be difficult: it takes time I does not pass without challenges, but it is worth it!
M.T. – client of the “Hidden Likes” youth house, Sofia, Bulgaria