Food/ Fear

by Anushka Srivatsan

Every time I sit down to try and write about my experience with Hashimoto’s disease and bulimia nervosa, I end up having no words. However, this time I’m determined like never before.

Let’s start from the beginning. 

I had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease or Hypothyroidism in first grade, when I was 6 years old. I have been on medication since then. For those who don’t know what Hashimoto’s is, it is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck. The inflammation prevents the thyroid from producing enough hormones, which causes inexplainable weight gain, amongst other symptoms.

Ever since sixth grade, I’d started worrying about how I looked. I’d see every flaw; every inch of my body that wasn’t according to the image of perfection that had been shown to me up till then.

I didn’t realise how bad it’d gotten until eighth grade, when I had gained a considerable amount of weight due to stress eating, and had started to absolutely despise my body.

In the beginning of ninth grade, I fell pray to a cycle wherein most of the food that I ate, I threw up. It was not long before I did this after every meal that I ate. Every morsel of food I ate would end up in the bathroom sink.

For me, the words food and fear somehow had a very similar meaning. Even when we’d go out to eat, I’d do the very same thing, again and again.

I was so ashamed of it, but I did it anyways. The continuous vomiting caused my body to bloat up unusually, due to the hypothyroidism. I hated myself because of how my body looked. How could anybody ever like me? I’d obsessively look at myself in the mirror after every single meal, horrified at how my stomach looked.

After months of suffering, I saw that what I was doing to my body was cruel and inhuman, and I decided to tell my mother. She was, at first, completely shocked, but soon after became my greatest, and only, support.

She got me into a daily routine, making me eat in front of her, and not throw up. I’m not going to lie; it was not easy. It took me several weeks to start eating again. I joined a gym, and started an exercise regime, which I follow till today, almost six months later.

Now, in January 2021, I can proudly say that I eat a minimum of three meals every day. And while for most people it is a mundane task in their daily lives, for me it is the biggest achievement of my life.

I share my story because I don't want others to feel that they have to fit into the mould the society has made for us. Do what makes you happy and healthy. You do you. Loving yourself is not easy; I struggle with it every day. However, it is not impossible either.

Anushka Srivatsan is 15 years old and in Class 10. She is a drummer, a singer and a mental health advocate. 

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