#EDAW16: A survivor’s story

I will always remember what one of my friends said to me, maybe a couple of years ago: ‘I still wonder how people can live not knowing exactly how many calories there are in what they are eating”. It may sound silly, even funny to someone, but to me it is neither.

There is this thing about eating disorders: you will never really get over them. You can be healthier and feel strong, but there will be always something in your mind that is different from other people, like a reminder of what you have done to yourself.It is not only about food, I think this is the key: it is mostly about you and your self-confidence, which can be related to your body shape or not. That is why eating disorders are so scary, according to most of the people. For me? They are simply terrifying.

Let’s just say I have a history, since I have directly seen it from the outside and even personally struggled with it for a period. You may think it is strange, that if you have seen all the consequences and risks on someone close to you then you will be more aware and tough. Sadly, this is not the case, maybe because I was too young and naïve, or maybe there is another reason, which is a much more dangerous one. The fact is that at the beginning it is just a test, a challenge against yourself, and you do not realise you have a problem until it is too late. I think that someone who has not gone through something like this cannot really understand what it is like: to lose control of yourself, to become used to thoughts and habits that seemed unreasonable only a few weeks before.

I have blurred memories of those months, like in a dream where you do not exactly how it started and afterwards you can only recall a few moments of it. What I do remember is the feeling to be powerful, as insane as it may sound, and that kind of pride I felt when someone told me that I was too skinny. How can you be proud of having ruined your body? I cannot tell, but then it seemed the only thing that mattered: I was completely and dangerously in charge of my life.

When I talk about my disorder now, it somehow feels like I am talking about someone else. It has been a long time and I feel a different person, but as I said it is never totally over. That is why some times I find myself watching people, when a recognisable behaviour catches my attention. The fact is that even today I would not know how to help someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, because I did not know how to help myself. Although I can say I got myself out of it, I have no idea how.

But maybe I do know why, and it is the reason why I am telling you this story: I feel like a survivor, one who did it in a world where many people every day cannot say the same. So I am not sure if I will save someone or even if I can, but I have this kind of mission, to convince people that they are stronger than they think and they can do it, whatever it will take. Because I found myself stronger than I thought, and I actually did it.

Martina Mastromarino


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