The first time I got my period, I was 13 and in 7th grade. I remember instantly hating it. It was winter, and basketball season. The team had traveled to an away game. A van full of middle schoolers and a male coach did not provide any ideal options to disclose the newfound information. I was mortified and didn’t tell anyone until I made it safely home and modestly let my mom know. I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t feel like a woman, any older, more mature, or proud. The books said I should be proud. Why did I suddenly want to be ten years old again? Around that time I went 36 hours without eating and over the course of the next several years, I would realize that when I wasn’t eating much, I didn’t get my period.
When I was 15, I vividly remember searching the internet for if it was possible to permanently lose your period and ruin a future of having children. I read that it was, in fact, possible and for the first time I realized this was not a joke. My thirteen-year-old-self wanted nothing to do with menstruation, just as my fifteen-year-old self did, but I was intellectually developed enough to know I couldn’t continue like this forever before something went wrong.
Still, every time I skipped a period in high school, I was elated. A missed month meant my body fat must be below 18%. I must be skinny. If a number on the scale wasn’t satisfying, not menstruating verified I was successful. Even in college, my thought process was the same. I’ve skipped a lot of months of menstruating over the past 13 years (although not in the last 3 years) and I have always wondered if there is residual damage from that.
Despite this worry, I still think every single time I get my period, that it means I have too much body fat. Which of course is perpetuated by PMS symptoms.
I can’t stop being hungry. I thought I was doing a really great job of eating breakfast and lunch and listening to my body today, but I kept getting hungry. It felt impossible to be satiated. I ended up adding everything I had up until 1pm, and realized it was 750 calories and that although it seemed like a lot of things, I could basically have a 2nd lunch and eat dinner and be ok.
That is frustrating. It’s frustrating to already be fighting against everything in my being that says; stop eating! You’re going to get fat! You are so disgusting! and be successful at conquering those thoughts with healthy choices, but realize it’s still not really enough. You’re still not really full, so you keep eating, and that’s when the eating disorder completely takes over. That is when it takes every fiber in my being to not throw in the towel.
I have to keep trying because I can’t think clearly and make quick decisions at work when I’m not eating enough. I have to keep trying because I want future children and a healthy body.
I have to be resilient.