April 11, 2017, 9:33 a.m.
My instinct when asked about my eating disorder is to mystify my “heroic journey” to recovery. Through snarky and impactful commentary, I often simplify the root of my mental disorder to avoid difficult questions. However, a key yet disregarded, element to my story is that for a very long time, I didn’t want to be a woman.
To clarify, I happily am a woman of a colour. However, I was thrown into the idea of sexism and sexualisation early in my life. This was overwhelming and induced severe anxiety as a child because I wanted to fit in (see: be feminine) but didn’t identify with gender norms. When I discovered that I was destined to become fuller bodied, this sparked a medieval thought process that I needed to live with as little of myself as possible. The less of myself that existed, the less I suffered at being pinned down to my gender.
My diagnosis as a preteen was strongly linked to combating self-change through self-harm. Over the years from consistent therapy sessions and support groups, I learned that my inner battles with womanly maturity was coupled with my floundering identity. I was attempting to fit into femininity when at the time, I didn’t define as a “girl”. In addition, many involved were unable respect that I was as a person of colour who suffered a typically westernized mental disorder. Once this element of my diagnosis had set in, I stuck to meal schedules and overcame fear foods through cognitive therapy without restraint. Recovery had become attainable.
My experiences highlight the issue of not acknowledging the strong link between society and clinical study especially in mental illness. I was diagnosed at a stereotypical age group and in a community where being a questioning girl of colour was unheard of. This resulted in an extraneous recovery process and yearly relapses. Scrutiny towards the lack of representation allows future studies to eventually capsulate all genders, ages, classes and ethnicities. The ability I have to freely discuss my previous affront to womanhood along with my strong strides in recovery is an example of scientific and societal progress.
In conclusion, we must consistently recognise that without dimension in everyday discussion, hurtful and elementary understanding of eating disorders percolate. Since my appropriate diagnosis, I’ve become well versed in scientific forums related to eating disorders because I disallow conversations of such to be shadowed by clichés and others’ illiteracy. To do so would be the antithesis to recovery processes and societal awareness that helped me and so many others be happy with their identity today.
Kelly (@_kelto) is an analyst from Toronto specializing in renewable energy development. She hopes to make great strides in the sustainable energies industry parallel to her accomplishments in recovery.