My struggles with food, weight and body image began about 13 years ago. A typical pre-teen, I was in the awkward stages of development and felt out of place in my body. I had never been athletic, was shorter than my peers, and had been teased in the past for my appearance. I sunk into a deep depression during my transition to an all-girls high school and was constantly anxious, and the one friend I made confessed that she was bulimic. Desperate for some sort of connection and miserable with my own body, I decided to join her on after-school binges and purges. I quickly adopted this strategy at home. Though I began shedding weight, I decided that being bulimic had too many negative connotations, and “chose” to starve myself and compulsively exercise instead. The restricting continued until I no longer had a grasp on my own thoughts and was in a medically dangerous place.
Now 26 and happily married with two adopted dogs, I have had many ups and downs, and my eating disorder is still a part of me. I have had hospitalizations and relationships with multiple treatment providers, but I have also had periods of joy and close-to-physical and mental wellness. Until recently, however, I have never felt that I’d be able to truly heal. Discovering vegetarianism and then veganism several years ago gave me the reasons to push myself harder to recover physically and mentally. I want to be the best advocate I can for the animals and for the veg movement, and I cannot do that if I look weak or sick, if I cannot make a protest because I am too busy exercising or scheduling meals, or if I’m too afraid to bake and share tasty vegan treats. I have too much to live for and too many ideas to share with this world, and I refuse to let my eating disorder stand in my way. Veganism reminds me that I am connected me to this earth, that I deserve health, and that my choices represent the love and respect I have for all living beings, including myself.
We can all be kinder and gentler to ourselves and others, and that is the path I am choosing today.
Find Marissa at Righteous Chickpea: Vegan Ramblings, Recipes and Reviews and on Twittter.