I’m Alexa and I’m free from Perfection!
It all started with going on an innocent diet.
Nothing special or specific, just the typical: eat fewer sweets and do a little more cardio. Slowly but surely I started to see changes in my body and my mood, and I saw was attracting the attention from others.
Growing up, sure there were things that I was good at but always felt second best. Dieting hadn’t been of a concern to my group of friends, so I thought that I had finally found something that I could work to be “perfect” at.
The weight flew off and the comments from others went from being positive to more worrisome, but I was addicted to the attention no matter what was being said. A few years and dozens of fad diets later, I was still seeing changes, and changes meant progress in my mind.
I figured, why stop? Why not be even better? In this instance, better meant thinner.
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I thought skinny would mean happiness and once again perfection.
Waking up each day started to feel stressful because of the strict routine I had put myself in. The problems arose when I was forced to step out of my comfort zone, and tried to live,so called “normally.”
I knew I had changed more than was visible to the rest of the world, but I was in denial that I needed help. In fact, I was determined to essentially fix myself. I was now known as that skinny girl and I wasn’t about to lose that label.
Once my parents noticed that my behaviours started to change and my mood was inconsistent to say the least, we mutually agreed to seek medical help. Blood tests were taken and series of questions asked but what I was told was what I already knew.
The consensus was I needed to gain weight. This just made my brain spin even more. Here I knew that I had deeper mental struggles than I was being told, but I wasn’t about to show my weakness if I wasn’t being forced to.
I saw myself as being perfect at hiding my feelings and perfection was what fuelled my thoughts.
The years went by and my mental health continued to decline. I returned back to my doctor and dietician, but left again without the term eating disorder even questioned, I was just advised to gain weight.
Imagine you break your leg and the doctor somehow misses the fracture, telling you the pain will pass and to give it time. You continue to live life in pain, going about life as if your leg is fine and are convinced it will get better. You start to notice that this one wound in your life is causing problems in other areas, but you’re unable to see because you’re preoccupied by the pain in your leg.
Welcome to my life for the past 2 years.
Without a proper diagnosis I tried to continue living my daily life by convincing myself that everything was fine.
My deteriorating eating habits started affecting my relationships, my social life, and most importantly my mental health. I slowly fell into a depression, removing myself from everything that I once loved in life in order to try and cope.
Being around people created social anxiety, and I started to create distance from others. In order to cope with these issues I secluded myself from others, which in turn only made things worse.
After self-researching for years, and I mean years, I finally came to the realization that my eating habits had developed into Orthorexia, something that I had never heard of before. Soon after, I found social media and quickly became a part of a community of other fighters out there. Talking to others in similar situations helped in small aspects of my life, but I still felt stuck and mentally I wasn’t going anywhere.
Upon graduating, I knew there were going to be big choices to be made.
What I was going to do for work, where I was going to live, if I would have a roommate, the list went on and on.
Somewhere along the line I realized that no matter what decisions I made, nothing would change drastically with my health.
That’s when I decided to leave everything behind and bought a one way ticket to Paris. I became a part of a new family, made friends from all over the world, and had the opportunity to be fully immersed in another culture.
They say travelling changes you, and I can say that in my life that was the case.
It wasn’t overnight that I felt a shift in myself or a change in my eating habits, but with patience and persistence I slowly saw progress. Yes, I gained weight, but my weight was the least of my worries.
My mentality was what needed to change. I needed to find freedom; to find meaning in this world, and travel gave me just that.
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