I'll start this blog post out by saying this is personal and transparent and vulnerable. This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and I've been challenged and convicted to tell my story. Should I use my business website and blog to tell my personal story? I'm not sure, but I'm going to because this is the platform the Lord has allowed me to have, and I will use it the most pure way possible.
My name is Annique Dentino, and what most people do not know is that I struggled with a very secret eating disorder from 7th grade until about my freshman year of college. It all started when someone that I saw as a role model spoke words that locked chains over me for almost a decade. Words truly have the power of life and death, and in this instance, I believe part of my innocence and youth died from words that were spoken over me. From that day forward, I began purging my food whenever I ate. I became bulimic. I then became locked in this deadly cycle of body image issues, self-hatred, and self-mutilation through my eating disorder.
One day, I was purging at my best friend's house when she caught me in the bathroom. She quite literally freaked out on me and told me she would tell my parents and her parents if I didn't stop. I became so scared, that I hid my habit even more. No one knew this inner demon I was fighting alone. No one would have ever guessed I was slowly killing myself because I was always happy and smiling. But most importantly, no one would have guessed I was dealing with this struggle because I wasn't exceptionally thin. You see, the face of an eating disorder isn't just an emaciated female with all of her bones showing and crying in the bathroom corner. No, the face of an eating disorder could look as "normal" as I looked; 140 pounds, an athlete, dancer, joyful and fun. But my heart was breaking because I chose to believe the lie that I was fat because I didn't have society's standard of a perfect body.
All of high school I purged. I would body check and cry and hate myself all while still functioning very well in society. Why is it that something like this could go so unnoticed? Why did I feel like if I asked for help, I would be labeled weak, a freak, or even judged? Because society doesn't want to look at anything that doesn't fit into its pretty little box. Society is more concerned with keeping its outside appearance that it won't allow the hurting and broken to have a voice to speak out for help. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They are rampant among young teens to the older generation of women AND men. Yes, men too are struggling with this disease and feel helpless to break free because we don't allow an avenue of conversation to happen to begin helping people get healthy.
So how did my story end? Well it's definitely still being written, but I am so thankful to say that I am free from my bulimia. I honestly believe my relationship with God and finally telling my closest inner circle what my struggle was helped me break free from this plague. I've stopped purging, yes, but honestly sometimes the thought life is still very strong. I find myself comparing my body to other people's and wishing I was someone else, but when I start talking about my feelings and telling the people that love me what I'm struggling with, it doesn't let Satan win in my mind. He loses when I choose to be open about my struggles and bring them to the Lord and allow my friends and family to pray for me and uplift me.
My story is mine. My story is also one that is too common among my peers and beyond. By the grace of God I became healthy without going to rehab, but that's not the case for others. Rehab and therapy are incredible outlets that I don't think we should see as taboo anymore. If you or someone you know is struggling to the point that they might need professional help, GO GET THAT HELP. There is no shame in wanting to get well! It is the truth that will set you free, so being truthful about your struggle is the first step to wellness. There is no reason why you should feel alone any more. You're not alone. Your struggles aren't minimized either just because you didn't go to rehab or don't necessarily need professional help. My story and struggle isn't fake or invalid just because I didn't get professional help. My story is mine, and I want to use it to help other men and women break free from this disease. Help and healing is possible. You aren't alone.
It's time we start preaching being HEALTHY instead of skinny. You are more than a number on a scale or a photoshopped picture in a magazine. You're alive and breathing today, and it's time to talk about getting healthy for good. If you need help, here is a link to a website where help is available. Don't let this disease keep you quiet any longer. You are victorious.
Photo by PhotoByJoy