My Story – Harshita

Trigger warning : This conversation explores eating disorders in depth and the interviewees experience and how she coped with it. If reading someone else’s experience may not be helpful for you or may trigger you right now please don’t read further. You can always come back to it at another time. If you did read it and felt triggered or have more questions about eating disorders and need support for yourself or a loved one please call Freed Connect 022-35005611

Hello, My name is Harshita MirpurI and I am a 27 year old chef based out of ChennaI Tamil Nadu. I am using this platform to understand Eating Disorders better and also to share about my own experience as well.

When did you first learn about Eating disorders? What was it like?
I didn’t know there was something called an Eating disorder until I watched a documentary by Shane Dawson. That is when I simultaneously realised that there was something called an eating disorder and that I was struggling with it.

What makes you want to share your experiences today?
It is still an ongoing battle, I am not completely cured from it. I have not been diagnosed by a professional but based on my own research I think I had bulimia, started with binge eating and was heading toward anorexia. I didn’t know what I was doing and felt scared. I started binge eating and gained weight and as a response to that developed bulimia. I feel like I am going back into binge eating but sharing experiences with my sister has been very helpful. I want more people to know about it and speak about it. I feel like talking about it might help someone else relate to or understand it.

I think talking about it is so important, thanks for doing that. How is your relationship with body image and food?
As a chef, I’m always around food. My relationship with food is ironic because of my job, and I am always surrounded by food. It gets complicated because of my job which is why it becomes even harder for me.
I started binge eating in 12th grade and I was also a stress eater. I started eating to cope with the feelings I was having. My first experience of having an unhealthy relationship with food was during 12th grade board exams, and I gained a lot of weight. That’s when I started college and people commented on my weight. I became conscious and entered a bad relationship with food, and began starving.

There was a time when I read an article. It said that models usually eat food and try to puke it out to get the energy but not put on weight. It was said as a solution so at that time when I read the article which was worded in a very suggestive way, I was very naive and instantly saw I was losing weight which is what I wanted at the time. If I can read something like that and be convinced that I could be healthy with it, I don’t really want other people to believe that. I know now that it was not healthy to do so.

What do you think about mainstream media/societal expectations to look a certain way?
I feel really scared and sad when thinking about people that are conventionally targeted by social media. There is also a misconception that only “ thin ” people suffer from an Eating disorder or body image issues. Which is not the case. Imagine if the media can get through every possible size and shape, imagine the influence they have on us, imagine what they could be telling us. I mean it’s gotten better now especially the content I’m consuming on instagram. People are talking about the importance of consuming whole foods, emphasizing the importance of not cutting out groups of food and having a balanced meal. However , in between it got so bad, people were talking about not just what you should wear, how you should look but what you should eat. Keto got so famous in between but now to think of it, cutting out a whole group of food is having an unhealthy relationship with food. I am not a nutritionist but this sounds alot like having an unhealthy relationship with food and I know it because I can relate to it. Social media and influencers have a lot of influence and should be more responsible about what they’re saying.

If you wanted to explain to someone who doesn’t know anything about Eating disorders, how would you explain your Eating disorder?
I am constantly thinking about eating in a good or bad way. I am constantly craving things, and when I give in I am constantly feeling guilty about why I did that. It’s exhausting. I also want people to understand that Depression, anxiety and Eating disorders are interlinked and can make each other worse. I suffer from anxiety and that triggered my Eating disorder to a point where it got very bad. For those who don’t know much about Eating disorders, don’t just be like you need to have discipline when it comes to food, because it’s not that simple. For someone who doesn’t know what an Eating disorder is, it’s not as simple as being disciplined about your food. It’s a lot more. It’s connected to a lot of other mental issues as well. A person might look at me and be like oh you’re so fit but internally i’m thinking im the most unhealthy person ever. It’s internal. You look at yourself and you can’t see what you truly look like, those lines get blurry.

What do you think are some of the reasons why you developed an Eating Disorder?
I felt like I looked fat , I felt bad and wanted to look a certain way. When I was in 12th grade, everybody including me didn’t find my eating pattern abnormal. I was eating an abnormal amount of food, at abnormal times and for the wrong reasons. At that point, my parents, teachers, friends no one thought it was a problem. We have to acknowledge that nobody was aware of this. Binge eating, even for a 16-17 year old girl is not seen as such a big problem. Any sort of abnormality should have been addressed right then, a professional should have been brought in. Right now in hindsight it’s such a simple answer but at that point of time, it was normal, even for me.

What are your thoughts about Eating disorders being a largely western concept?
It’s not. I mean, how ignorant could you be to think that it is a western concept? It is so common in India for people to comment on people’s weight. Why would you think that doesn’t affect people? Health as a concept itself is hard for people to grasp. When it comes to food, people are like it’s just food. When I put on weight, I had people commenting on my weight, when I lost weight I had people saying why are you dieting? Stop dieting. And everytime I put something in my mouth, even when I was eating when I lost weight I had people snarkily saying how come you’re eating? Aren’t you dieting? You have a comment for every single person at every shape or size so you need to wake up and realize it has an effect on people. I think you’re in denial and escaping by saying depression and Eating disorders are a western concept. You need to wake up.

What do you think has influenced your relationship with your body and food?
I do this thing where I look back at old photos, I think I was fine, why did I think I looked ugly or overweight? The fact that I say that for every single year of my life helped me. Now I’m able to appreciate my body a little more. My sister helped me realize this and it empowers me to enjoy myself in the moment. So my parents don’t know the depth of this disorder but they have been extremely supportive. They give me my space to be and figure this out on my own and also check in every now and then.

What do you think loved ones can do to support people with an ED?
This is a common thing that I read and I think it’s very true- don’t comment on someone’s physical appearance if they can’t change it in 5 seconds. It’s extremely rude, why would you do that? Why would you comment on someone’s clothing, their weight or what they’re eating at that time? It’s none of your business. You don’t know what they’re going through. So that’s a start, whether you know that person personally, don’t talk about their weight. Some family members come from a good place but they should educate themselves about eating disorders. That’s not our job to educate them, because we’re dealing with the impact of it anyway. I would tell family members to hjust process it in their head and then say things. Think about whether you would like to hear this from someone else and only then say it.

What helped you have a better relationship with food?
I was scared of not knowing what I was going through. I told my sister to keep an eye on me, if I am acting fishy after a meal, not eating well. I told her to just ask me what was happening and check in. I told her not to barge into my room, because that would make me hide things from her even more, but to check in with me as to how I am doing. It helped me be accountable. It is helpful to let loved ones know how you’re doing, especially if they live with you.

Did you have any other external support- a therapist, support group?
I recently started seeing a therapist for my anxiety, not necessarily for the Eating disorder but, it does come up there. I know that this is another long journey. The first time I talked about this was with Kamakshi, we talked for about an hour and half and that was the first time I talked to someone outside my circle. I was very nervous to talk about this with a stranger. It was extremely liberating to talk about this, it’s helping me heal as well. We talk about it, there’s more conversations and more people realize that this is happening to everyone- regardless of their size or weight.

What do you think it takes to challenge societal norms about what is “ normal ” and how one should look ?
I think I would be giving you a wrong picture if I said those notions aren’t still stuck in my head. I’m not going to be happy looking at my weighing scale seeing I put one weight. Why do I have to be sad about it? It could be healthy for me. The notion of putting on weight is still scary. I think what helps is, when you see someone demeaning the way they look, call it out- say it’s not nice to do that to yourself. It could lead to a conversation and maybe they’ll stop saying it and that means that they’re saying less negative comments to themselves, and be kind.

In the end I just want to say that you are beautiful, you should eat whatever you want, of course have a healthy relationship with food, nobody should tell you how you should look and what you should eat. You’re on your own path and you will figure it out. If you are able to talk about it, that’s half the battle won.

My Story – Vinay

Vinay Agarwal (He/Him) lives in Mumbai and is a writer and editor by profession. He
considers himself to be an introvert and likes to read (a lot!), travel, and watch world cinema. His Instagram handle is @ryanoffunkiness

My relationship with my body has been a roller-coaster ride, akin to that of a ‘love-hate’ relationship. There were days when I didn’t like to look at myself in the mirror. And although those days are a rare occurrence now, I still don’t like how certain parts of my body look- such as my stomach. There are also days when I like what I see. Hence, it’s a mixed bag of emotions. However, on the whole, my level of dissatisfaction with my body has gone down over the years.
All these problems started when I was in standard six. As a skinny kid, I was bullied for my height and weight. And from that age, I started feeling as though something was wrong with me. The constant bullying further drew me into a shell and forced me to make unnecessary comparisons with the bodies of other boys my age. This frequent comparison pushed me into a very negative headspace.

Masculinity and body shaming
In addition to my height and weight, my gender also negatively affected my relationship with my body. I identify as male and as some of you might already know, men are ‘supposed’ to have muscular bodies. And because I was skinny, I was routinely bullied. The bullying was so bad that I was also advised to put on weight while being subjected to offensive comments. This constant barrage of comments and unsolicited advice (disguised as good advice) adversely affected my psyche. And there were days when I even thought twice before stepping out. I slowly became more inattentive and started to believe that nobody wanted to be seen with me in public because of how I looked. Now that I look back at my life, I realize that my tumultuous relationship with my body was profoundly shaped by my peers- both online and offline. Initially, I used to follow a lot of gym sharks on social media and used to fall into the trap of comparing my body with theirs. But slowly, I realized that this was a vicious cycle and that I had to get out of it somehow. I honestly feel that in today’s day and age the pressure to look beautiful and desirable is much more, which is why we must find newer and more innovative ways of negotiating with such desires.

Relationship with Food
As far as food is concerned, there have been phases in my life when I was a picky eater. During my college days, for instance, my relationship with food wasn’t good. I used to skip dinner because I felt bad about the comments directed at me. Skipping meals was my act of rebellion. But it wasn’t healthy. And even when I was eating, my mind was always somewhere else.
But after a bout of illness, I started becoming a little more mindful about my eating habits and finally started eating healthy. Today, I’m proud to say that I don’t browse my cell phone or read books while having meals. It’s just the plate of food and I. Nothing else! Moreover, I try to relish each bite. Trust me, this is something which I never did earlier. So, if you give me a bowl of salad today, I would happily finish it. But, had you given me that five years ago, I’d have fussed over it and probably not touched it!

How these issues impacted other parts of my life
All these emotions and anxieties that were pent up inside me over the years always made me feel as though I wasn’t good enough. I used to constantly fight with myself. And as I said before, there was a time when I used to think twice before stepping out.
Most of us are introduced to concepts of beauty, desirability, and sexuality from birth and at home by our families. However, I was raised and surrounded by strong, independent women in my family. So, most of the challenges that I faced came from external agencies and I believe they are mostly rooted in patriarchy. To create a shift, we need to become conscious of such biases i.e. becoming aware of the problem. Sometimes people who hold such biases may not even be intentionally aware of them!
As time went on, I started working, and a large part of my job involved going to snazzy events that were full of good-looking and impeccably dressed people. Initially, I used to feel awkward and a bit out of place. But slowly I started becoming comfortable. There also came a point when I sat in the front row of Lakmé Fashion Week in a grey tee, jeans, and a simple chappal. Ath-cool (Athleisure-cool), to come to think of that look!
Beyond challenging patriarchy and being true to oneself, I also realized with time that it’s important to read a lot and be open to diverse concepts of beauty. For example, the idea that beauty is multilayered. One should definitely engage in dialogues and discussions (in-person and virtual) with family, friends, and peers to broaden these discourses. However, I would urge people to choose their battles wisely and self-educate themselves before they go on to educate others. Acknowledge your own internal biases and work on them. Once you do that, it becomes easier to convince other people.

The role of Mainstream Media
Let’s just accept it: a huge part of mainstream media is broken and needs a course correction. It takes years to love your body – and the media can undo it in one swoop. So, follow the accounts/voices that talk about diverse body types and shapes. Surround yourself with such people and embrace body neutrality.
Don’t just blindly follow any diet just because it’s a fad or because some influencer is doing it. Read more about it. Also, diversify your Instagram feed rather than just following ‘perfect figures’ or ‘chiseled bodies.’

The Way Forward
Since mass media and popular culture contribute a lot in shaping people’s opinions, I believe that they must change too and usher in greater representation of body types. I would also urge people (especially men) to try not to take others’ comments about their bodies too seriously or personally. It’s your body, not theirs.
Don’t starve yourself. Eat healthily. Improving your relationship with your body is mostly an inside job. Be persistent. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, and you will get there!

This story was edited by Kanav N Sahgal.
Kanav Narayan Sahgal (Pronouns: He/Him) is, as of July 2021, pursuing his Masters in Development from Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. He identifies as queer for personal and political reasons and is interested in researching issues surrounding social exclusion and marginality. For any questions or queries, reach out to him on LinkedIn or Instagram. You can also check out his YouTube channel.

My Story – Shivangi

Trigger warning : This blog explores eating disorders in depth and the writer’s experience and how she coped with it. If reading someone else’s experience may not be helpful for you or may trigger you right now please don’t read further. You can always come back to it at another time. Nevertheless, if you did read it and felt triggered or have more questions about eating disorders and need support for yourself or a loved one please reach out to Freed connect –

My fixation on my body shape began young with the media and people around me reminding me of the perfect ideal of a thin body and telling me there was something different and wrong about my larger body. It started in my teenage years, crept up on me in my early 20s. I remember writing in my diary for pages and pages at no end, about the discomfort I felt with my body, a discomfort which has now become a constant companion. I don’t know for sure where these thoughts came to find a house in my heart and head, but I can attribute it to some things. I know that constant comments about my weight gain from those close to me was a starting point. Watching films and TV shows filled with what the media prescribes as the ideal body for a girl, a fair thin hairless one made me aspire to attain that body. The absence of representation of all kinds of bodies made me believe that there was something inherently wrong with my body as it existed. I still chase this constant feeling that the body I have isn’t right and would only rightfully be loved and cherished once I lose weight and fit into the “perfect body”. As a teenager I did not have the sensibility to not let social media and my loved one’s comments get to me on a deeper level especially when it was always around me. The media combined with comments from loved one’s made me wonder if I had less willpower or was just lazy as I had been told several times.

That is when I decided to take matters into my own hands and gain control. I started using an app to count calories and it was a slippery slope towards a disastrously unhealthy relationship with food. I was 16 when I was obsessed with counting calories. I lost a lot of weight by eating way too little for a growing teenager and overexercising. That was when I received compliments for losing weight and looking so much better now. This only encouraged me to continue weight loss efforts, even if they were not conducive to my overall well being including my mental health. This period of weight loss was followed by weight cycling and Yo-Yo dieting. This was when I would lose and gain weight using different means, sometimes calorie counting, sometimes not eating at all for days, embarking on fad diets and overexercising. I saw that those around me were unknowingly encouraging such behaviours by telling me that losing weight was the ultimate goal and practically nothing else mattered as much. In fact, losing weight had become my primary goal.

However the years of restriction, demonising food, disconnection from my body and psychological deprivation then turned into Binge Eating Disorder, as the mental health community would call it. I can recall this pattern of binge eating and the distress beginning when I was 20 years old. On most days I would binge on a large amount of food in a short period of time, often feeling like I had no control over the impulse and amount of food I ate and consequently felt shame and guilt as a result of the binge. After most of these instances I would tell myself that I would not eat for days or skip meals as a means to restrict. The restriction would feed into the binges and the binges into the restrictive eating pattern.
I didn’t know then that my behaviour was an eating disorder, was shared by many others and that it was in fact causing me a lot of distress. Subsequently, I gained a lot of weight over the years, way more than I had lost from before. When the Pandemic hit, things definitely became worse, more hoarding of food, more weight gain than I had seen before. Being at my heaviest, I felt terrified to go back home, anticipating comments about my weight gain. I was even afraid for days to meet my best friend even though I knew she wouldn’t judge me at all.

I know it all seems contradictory but while I ate a lot of food in my binges, I very deeply cared and worried about my weight. In fact the preoccupation with the weight is what kept the eating pattern going as the binges and restrictive periods both fed into each other. At the age of 24, I hadn’t until 6 months back heard about Binge Eating Disorder. Culturally, in the average Indian household it was never spoken about or even known. I knew I had a troubled relationship with food, I just didn’t know what it was.

One night, curious about my behaviour I ended up on the internet with lots of late night reading over the course of the night. Over the next week I found myself reading accounts of others who felt this way and scientific work which articulated not only my behaviour but also how I had felt over the last four to five years. This realisation was empowering because I knew I wasn’t crazy or alone, along with being hard and terrifying as I didn’t know how I was going to get help. I navigated through my feelings and sought help from my therapist. I read a Guided Self Help book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder which had steps to help me figure it out and found multiple resources, all from which I took bits and parts from, which helped me establish a relatively regular eating pattern and also work on my relationship with my body. I tried to listen to myself and take care of my needs to help with the way I feel and the eating pattern. It is work in progress but acknowledging it, seeking help and finding resources definitely were imperative in the journey towards feeling better.

Someone close to me who knew what I was going through once asked me, the world goes through this aspect of body shaming, so why did I react so adversely to it and develop an eating disorder ? ‘It’s a question I have asked myself several times, “why me?” and was very well put by one of the characters on this Netflix show, called Feel Good. Mae, a comic who has had trouble with drugs, mental health and explains her head as a cupboard full of tupperware containers with mismatched lids, asks a similar question to Audrey who is a staff at the rehabilitation facility. Mae asks “ Why do some people need so much help just to exist and other people don’t need any help at all ? ” and Audrey responds by saying that it could be genetics or trauma or a million other things and we can’t know for sure for each person. What Audrey was getting at and what I have recognised is that there could be a plethora of reasons for developing an eating disorder including genetics, gender, media’s portrayal of thinness, past trauma, stress and body shaming. I have also recognised that for me the question of “why me? ” over time lost significance for me because it shifted to “what seems to be troubling me? ” and “what support can I gather or what can I do to move away from the distress? ” . Of course my feelings and the path to feeling better isn’t perfect or even finished in fact and everyone’s journey would be different. I only wish that we as a collective society can move towards a more compassionate space where we are not reduced to the sum total of what other people can visually grasp in half a second and are seen as whole individuals beyond our appearance. A world where we can openly speak about our struggles without shame and give and receive the support we so rightfully deserve.

P.S. : Resources that have helped to cope with my feelings and mental health are seeking therapy, dancing, reaching out to my lovely supportive friends, learning yoga , learning mindfulness, doing a course on and embracing self compassion, openly being able to talk about my struggles (in some spaces where I felt safe) and using this book which is an evidence based method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Self Guided Help.

My Story – Prerna

Hi, my name is Prerna. I am a 27 year old PhD student who has struggled on and off with binge eating disorder and bulimia for a while.

I grew up in an extremely supportive and open-minded family. Yet, I had this battle with myself about my weight, food habits and disordered eating.

When I was a kid, I would start planning my next meal before finishing the current one and I can tell you, not much has changed! My earliest memory of behavioral patterns linked to disordered eating is when my dad sent me to a dietician, which was all the rage in the early 2000s! Being put on a stricter food regimen made me want to constantly “cheat”. I remember eating chocolates in the bathroom and then hiding the wrappers. This was strange behaviour since I had never been stopped from eating anything and if I would have asked, my mother would have willingly given me the chocolates. There was something about inherent guilt that prevent me from asking her and this feeling of guilt that has stayed with me to date.

I didn’t have any particularly bad episodes until I moved to the US. I was suddenly in a different country, independent and had no one to be accountable to. I felt slightly isolated even though I made wonderful friends and spoke to family regularly. A few events in my personal life triggered what I now recognize as patterns of binge eating and bulimia. I turned to the only thing I had control of— Food. With the ease of food delivery services , there I had access to food 24×7 without ever leaving home. I would order large amounts of food, almost every night. Then, with a sudden feeling of guilt washing over me, I would force myself to throw up. This was a vicious cycle. The more this happened, the more it affected my mental health. The only way for me to deal with my feelings? More food! I gained a lot of weight and even stopped going out because I was embarrassed. This even led to physiological problems like severe acid reflux/ GERD and I ended up in the urgent care and had to visit an ENT multiple times.

My partner caught me throwing up. It was then that I made the decision of opening up to him as well as to my mother. I was difficult because I was ashamed and a part of me felt like I was letting them down. My mother and partner were supportive and accepting. They listened to me without judgement and became my pillars of strength. Being able to talk to someone changed everything. I now had people I could confide in and their support made me rethink my decisions. Having someone to be accountable to made things so much easier. Talking to them made me confident enough to seek professional help.

I think for me, accepting that there was an issue to begin with was the hardest part, along with seeking help and confiding in others. But once that happened, it became a lot easier to focus on my health while still enjoying food. I will always be a foodie, but I don’t let food control my life or who I am anymore.

My Story – Kamakshi

Hi there!

Whatever brought you here – anxiety about your own eating habits, concern about a loved one’s relationship with food or weight, curiosity about eating disorders, or anything else in between – I just want to welcome you! Thank you for helping us move one step closer to a healthy, judgement- and stigma-free society.

My name is Kamakshi and since 2012 I have been working on my recovery from severe anorexia. Through Freed, I want to share with you my story of getting out of the depths of this illness, and starting on this path towards finding hope, encouragement, and confidence in myself. Talking about this so publicly for the first time, feels terribly daunting but also incredibly freeing.
So. A true-blue (well, slightly white-washed) Indian from New Delhi, at 26 I sometimes feel like I can be more mature than most 40-year-olds around me, yet sometimes I can be a 5-year-old who needs a bear hug and an encouraging pat on the shoulder. So that’s me in a nutshell – a responsible, mature, smart, loving, childlike young adult (oh, and don’t even get me started on my modesty!).
Now that you kind of have a sense of who I am, let me take you back to a fateful Wednesday afternoon, back in 2011. Pulse-racing, nerves-ticking, I entered my first session during college orientation at Georgia Tech in the US. The ambitious 17-year-old in me could already envision 4 years full of new experiences and perspectives, shared with friends from around the world.

College started on a massive high for me. Lots of attention – from boys and professors, to strangers on the road, you name it! I had come a long way since being a care-free, no fucks-given, unibrow-ed nerd in high school. Life had never been this exciting! Of course, I was conscious of not letting this attention get to me, but after all I was just a 17-year-old, trying to figure myself out.

I would always pride myself for not getting frazzled by silly comments by friends and peers about my weight or looks. And then summer hit…

As we got to our first summer in college, most of my friends had left for their homes, while I decided to stay on campus, with very few friends around. With all my friends back in their respective states/ countries, I had been missing the attention I tried so hard not to get used to. The closest thing I had to an anchor, was a gorgeous friend, but little did I know, the summer would prove to be a whirlwind for us both. She was dealing with some insecurities of her own, and the only person she could easily project these on was yours truly. She would make mean comments (aka “jokes”) about my body and eating habits, but I’d brush them off quickly and not let them affect me at all.
Well, at least that’s what I thought. I will never forget the morning when I woke up to a thousand comments on my phone from a picture that she had uploaded of me on Facebook with a caption describing me as an elephant who ‘did nothing but stuffed her fat face with food’.
Something broke inside of me that day.

Suddenly, I felt myself worrying about who must have seen the picture, and what they must think of me. Suddenly, I was embarrassed and afraid of looking at myself in the mirror. Suddenly, I was craving that positive attention and found myself scheming a comeback for this friend.
Like most addictions and mental illnesses, mine started subtly. I decided to work out and introduce healthy eating habits into my daily life. Soon, people were taking notice, giving me compliments in front of my bully friend, and I felt that sense of attention come back. My confidence was slowly starting to show signs of emerging again. I was happy I didn’t have to stand up against these comments – others’ compliments were doing that for me.

Before I knew it, this thirst for external validation had spiraled into a full-blown eating disorder and I was so afraid of loosing all this “progress” that I couldn’t bare to stop and reflect on how I was treating myself. I had no idea who I had become and how my naïve attempt at “getting healthier” had thrown me into the deep end of this mental illness.

Fortunately, thanks to a mild flu I was caught by a doctor in Georgia Tech’s health center for having lost too much weight in a very short period of time, and for being under my healthy weight range.
Writing this, something so overwhelmingly important to me and so inexplicable in its gravity, I can’t help but feel vulnerable and exposed, remembering the deep shame I felt when I first heard the words “you are anorexic, and you need to get help immediately.” But boy am I grateful for having heard those words when I did.

To paint you a vivid picture, on a typical day I would work out till I could barely find enough strength inside me to stand, and eat barely enough to sustain even a two-year-old child. I would isolate myself in fear of having to confront my reality during conversations with others. I had told a very select few people in my life about this, but even for them, it was hard to reconcile why someone, who from the outside had everything going for her, could allow herself to deteriorate like this – physically and emotionally.

It took a tremendous amount of will power and internal strength to finally accept this and ask for help. But if there is one thing I would want you to focus on here, it is the fact that as soon as I spoke about it openly, I immediately felt like the weight of an elephant’s leg had been lifted of my chest – like I could finally see a future in which the Anorexia didn’t control me.

Through months and months of therapy numerous visits to a nutritionist and psychiatrist, multiple self-help groups, and the strength of my unbelievable support structure, I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and pulled myself out of the Eating Disorder’s strong hold. To be completely honest, I’m still not sure I could call myself ‘fully recovered’. When life throws stressful curveballs at me, I still feel the urge to turn to food, which seems like the only thing under my control in that moment. But the toolkit I have developed through the recovery process, allows me snap out of that mental spiral, and fall back on my anchors – family and friends, professional help, art, music etc.

Today, I am driven by my belief in therapy and support, the lack of understanding of these mental illnesses in India, and my gratitude for all the love I received from friends, family and doctors who collectively helped me feel empowered again – FREED, to love myself again.

Irrespective of what brought you to this platform, thank you for patiently reading my story. I hope that through FREED, we are able to encourage many such conversations around Eating Disorders in India, sensitize people around the importance of developing a healthy culture around food and body image, and create a stigma-free environment where people feel no shame in asking for help!