This Brave Body: The Juliana Story
Living with an eating disorder feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders. The constant mood swings, fatigue, dizziness and most of all the anxiety. The strings that hold up your hands, while your eating disorder plays with your mind. You do as you’re told, who knew the killer lived within, this control is the power that feeds ED. I went on my first diet with I was 13. I didn’t realize all that was to come. The weight loss, the fear of not having children, the loss of myself. My worth.
Eating Disorders don't just control you they imprison you inside your own head. You don’t even realize your hurting yourself, let alone losing yourself. Your mind slowly begins to shrink until ED is the main focus. No one starts out with an ED, you simply have disordered eating that manifests. Nobody realizes the constant spiral of control you’re in until your physical appearance starts to diminish.
When I went through my eating disorder, I didn’t feel I was losing myself nor did I feel I had an ED. Many of my family members started to worry and would try to help by saying “You need to eat hun”, and “You're starving yourself.” My family simply didn’t know how to help in the right way. Not a lot of people know about the mental illness of eating disorders.
Honestly, it's not as simple as just eating. It takes all the courage to get up and sit at a table and try to pick up your spoon to eat your breakfast. My mental state was ED, not Juliana. Many people got that confused because I could function, talk“rationally” or get good grades in school.
But when it came to taking care of myself, the basic fundamentals of life, I simply couldn’t.
It all started when ED took its first moment of my life away. I felt like I had to go on a diet, and workout 7 days a week to look my best. I had to give my all and make sure I was “good enough” for what...it was all for nothing. I was so worried all the time, of what people thought, so that's what ED latched onto.
I felt like I needed the diet. Wanted the diet. That’s not Juliana, thats ED.
I started to isolate myself, and my mother became very worried. Everyday I would wake up and the obsession never stopped. Don’t eat, workout, sit alone, don’t let anyone touch you. I had lost so much weight, my smile, and myself. That I was just a shallow shell of myself.
I was trapped in my head. You know when you’re in school and your teachers talk about studying and you file everything to keep it in your memory. Well Juliana was like a file. I don’t know exactly when my ED took hold, but something changed. It’s not uncommon to not know when it began to take your life away. At this point my brain was so small and the ED was my brain. I call this spiral brain, you go through the spiral of
I’m ugly, not worthy, fat, gross or not enough.
You don’t eat and workout, over and over.
This went on for months. My body began to shut down, I felt cold all the time, and always angry. My mother began to take control, which was very hard for me to let her do. I began to realize something else in me.
ED doesn’t have to define my life. The spiral brain was so strong that I couldn’t handle it, I got so twisted up on my way to my dad’s that I just cried. This was the first time I cried for me, not ED. I cried for not wanting this anymore. I screamed at the top of my lungs “I CAN’T DO THIS, FUCK YOU ED!” That was the aggression I was having at myself all the time, that I finally let out into the world.
Look, recovery is messy. In the beginning it’s complete fear and confusion, for your mind and body. You’ll want to quit everything and go back to your safe place with ED, but you won’t. You’re making a choice to find yourself again. Even though you’re still suffering, you can see a light you never did before. That’s true change. Or as I like to say baby steps. ED will look you in the eye and continue to try and knock you down. Your choices are this:
Will you let it take control or will you fight for recovery?
The only way you can “beat” an eating disorder is by admitting you need help. It could be a small step, like yelling out and your mother hears you. Simply going to a friend, creating a support team, and going to a support group. Also getting a therapist, and seeing them as much as you need. That was a major turning point for me. Working on being with myself, instead of in my head.
Every journey is different and my healing started with that simple, yet not so simple cry for help. This lead me down a road to Amy’s Gift support group and my therapist. Therapy helped me realize I needed to let my family in and work through my past trauma, to really find myself again. Day in and day out I was working on myself, which was not easy. I had to learn to use my voice, to fight my ED and the control it was trying to force on me everyday. That’s the thing: recovery is not simple and you have to work on it everyday. Choosing recovery is hard, so when you see a glimmer of hope, reach for it and fight for it everyday.
This girl is me, Juliana Rounds. The reason I stand and fight for mental health and Eating Disorder awareness is because it is okay to not be okay.
Reach out for help.