Between eating too little and eating too much: My Journey - Simran Bhola
I first remember feeling conscious about my weight and starving myself to the point of malnutrition when I was in 10th standard. I remember being called “bhains” “moti”, etc. by my closest friends which hurt me so much that I started feeling conscious of the way I look. I was never overweight but I have been a chubby kid. I never felt unhealthy. But I do wish I had someone who had told me that you are okay the way you are as long as you feel happy and healthy. I was a great dancer but pretty bad at sports, and this unfortunately led to more comments about my weight coming my way. This whole idea of how we look, the misconception of what ”fit” looks like consumes so many of us and we keep carrying that burden of negative body image until we are introduced to the concept of self-love.
Within a year of hiding food, starving myself, and counting calories, I achieved my target; I became so thin, and the more people told me I was looking thin, the more confident I became and that led to me eating even less food than I was. After a point, it became a matter of concern for my family. They started to push me to eat more and eating started to feel like an accomplishment.
It was in 12th standard when I finally started to eat normally because my obsession with weight loss shifted to studies. I studied day and night to achieve the highest scores I could get - the more I studied, the more I started to eat due to stress.
And within a year the chubby Simran was back! In my first year of college at Delhi University, I fell in love for the first time. After being rejected, the cycle of attaching my image to my body weight began, and once again, that phase of insecurities, counting calories, and eating less than my body required resurfaced. I lost 20 kilos of weight within a span of 3 months. As I resumed college in my second year, I was so thin that my neck started to look like a giraffe’s. Everyone started to make fun of my appearance.
That was the time I started to realise that no matter what my body weight is, people are still going to pass comments.
I had an epiphany about a year ago that a healthy body does not mean only a thin body. I have had 4 cycles in the past decade, of gaining and losing a lot of weight over a very short period of time. And at the age of 25, after knowing my patterns, and getting diagnosed with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and minor depression, I became cognizant of what I was eating, what my body needed, and what I needed to do to feel healthy.
After joining Freed, I feel I had the courage to accept that the problem still exists, and I researched more about the relationship between eating disorders and OCD. Researchers have been trying to study the correlation between OCD and an eating disorder and having experienced both, I feel that often overlap or feed into each other. Among other statistics, this article by Samantha Bothwell, BMFT states that 2-8% of people with OCD have eating disorders, while 2-48% of people with eating disorders have OCD.
If only someone had told me when I was experiencing this, that I am okay the way I am, that I don’t need to change my body weight to feel accepted by people, my life would have been much easier.
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