A wonderful girl named Gabriela Nadeau approached me and asked me if she could share her story. She is a great advocate for those with mental illness, particularly girls with eating disorders. She is currently in the process of recovering from EDNOS, which means eating disorder not otherwise specified, an eating disorder that does not meet the criteria for: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating. She wants to create an outlet for girls like her and clear any misunderstandings about what they go through. Right away, I knew I wanted to profile Gabriela on the website. I personally do not have an eating disorder so I don’t know what it’s like. I want diverse voices to show what mental illness is like in all its shapes and sizes. If you are someone with an eating disorder and want to talk to Gabriela, you can contact her on Instagram at @gabrielanadeau. Anyways, here is what she had to say:
My first time dieting was in the fourth grade. I had always been a little chubby thanks to my steroid medication, and as soon I got off of it I was determined to look like Maddy, the prettiest girl in my tiny Catholic school. After limiting myself to only a sandwich at lunch and no dessert, my ten-year-old body was finally skinny and I had a couple blissful years of pride in my body.
Once I reached middle school, puberty hit me like a Japanese bullet train. At that point though, I didn’t care what my body looked like; was more concerned with books, boys, and pimples. In the eighth grade, I did a project about eating disorders after my friend starting suffering from anorexia. During my research I came into my first contact with pro-ana sites and the deep world of thinspo. I kept those sites in the back of mind, but didn’t think too much about it at the time.
Freshman year I began to hate my body. The pictures of me with back fat and a bit of chub began to haunt me. My perfectionism was starting to get the better of me; if I could be perfect in academics and style, then why I couldn’t I have the perfect body. I did a little bit of dieting and lost a few pounds, but not enough to make me happy.
That summer, restricting became easy. I was on vacation in Singapore and Indonesia, and no one was paying attention to how I ate. My mom was more concerned with catching up with her family then what I put in my mouth. I lost a ton of weight and even discovered the “magic” of occasional purging. It wasn’t enough.
Once I got home, I lost even more weight and people began to notice. To keep tabs on myself I began to count calories and weigh myself once a day. I got down to 98 pounds. I drank a gallon of water and wore my heaviest clothes on the day of my yearly check up to keep my doctor off my trail. I started looking at thinspo regularly. I got an “ana buddy”.
Unlike other girls with an eating disorder, I was content with my weight. 98 pounds was low enough for me. Losing more weight wasn’t my goal, I just wanted to maintain my weight. After a couple of months, however, it all began to crumble apart around me.
I began to binge and purge. My anorexic tendencies began to morph into bulimia. Restricting became harder and I didn’t know why. Once the summer was over, I began to gain weight and I suddenly wasn’t happy anymore. School started, and I was crying in the car on the way there. I decided to reach out for help to my school psychologist.
I still don’t know how to handle myself. I’m up to 116.5 pounds, and despite being healthier, I don’t feel that way. Everyday is a constant struggle to love myself. I hate my body. The voices in my head argue between starving and binging. My parents aren’t the most receptive and don’t understand what I go through. They don’t really try to. I still binge and purge and count calories, but I’m trying. I hope that by sharing my experiences I can help other girls like me, and help myself.