We all know how society pushes insane standards when it comes to physical appearance. It begun to grab hold of me when I was 13 years old, entering middle school.

Among other issues, I suffered from body dysmorphia. This is a mental illness that is defined as when a person sees their own body as odd, or disproportionate, when in reality, it is fine. At thirteen I took up the trade of self harm, as a coping mechanism for the self hate I felt.

I restricted my food intake greatly for over a year, and by the time I was 14, I was an underweight anorexic and loving it. Despite being cold, weak, and lightheaded, I adored the feeling being skinny gave me.

I counted every calorie, skipped most meals, and discovered dozens of "tricks" to aid me in slowly killing myself. I lost my period for around 9 months, which I was glad about. To this day I remember the rush I received from gliding my fingers over every visible vertebrae in my spine. I remember the thrill of hip bones that looked as if they could rip their way out of my pale skin.

Even post-ED me admires these quaint, ill features. It is that deeply ingrained in me. I digress, soon enough my body decided to fight back. It had me bingeing at 2 or 3 am, uncontrollably eating anything and everything I could. I was utterly powerless. It felt as if I was watching myself stuff my face with calorie dense junk, screaming at myself to stop, but I couldn't.

After these episodes, I went to bed with an overwhelming guilt. This led to more self harm. It started as light scratching with a safety pin, then around this time, I transitioned to pencil sharpener blades. I was able to draw blood, and I was strangely proud of myself.

When I noticed the number on the scale rising, and my clothes fitting tighter, I panicked. I introduced myself to bulimia. Whenever I had the crazed binges, I would shimmy on down to the basement and "take a shower." I turned on the fan, knelt over the toilet, and upchucked thousands of calories at a time.

It was satisfying to know that I had a plan B. I felt comfort I hadn't known in a while. Still, there was the shame and guilt for the initial binge. Usually the binge purge sessions were followed by cutting.

My temporary solution didn't last long, as my weight shot up 20 pounds in one month. My self esteem was wrecked, and suicide was looking awfully pleasant. I was in a state of pure insanity. I knew no reason. My grades dropped, I had no motivation whatsoever.

I basically said, "Fuck it. I'm starving. I've already gained weight, why stop now?" There was a 3 month period of unmonitored, guilt free eating. I was at 140 lbs, the highest I'd ever been. It was devastating, for the mindset I was in.

At the end of October, 2014, I became a vegan. Oh stop your booing, hear me out. It saved me, eating this way. I started a program called Raw Till 4, and followed the guidelines perfectly. I have always been a strict vegan since then, but the whole RT4 jam was on and off.

If felt like forever ridding myself of this disease. Now, I'm at a healthy weight. I may not love my body, but hey, it's what I've got. It functions, it's strong. My diet is still very limited, but there is no calorie restriction, and it's healing my body after putting it through hell. I'm finally satisfied after meals, and I don't have midnight binges.

I still self harm, and yes it has gotten fairly deep. However, it's no longer associated with feelings of guilt and hate. It's a simple addiction, and I honestly don't mind it. So that's my story. Whatever you take from it, know that you can't force an unhealthy, unnecessary change without it snapping back in your face.

Published by Squid Soup