Hey there! My name is Marta Franczak and I am currently studying Psychology at the University of Guelph Humber, and a placement student here at Cams Kids. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity in sharing my personal journey in hopes of potentially inspiring others to reach out if they feel like they are struggling, especially during these difficult times.
I can vividly remember the first time I showed patterns of disordered eating. It was obvious I was nervous beyond belief before my appointment with my pediatrician, since my weight had rapidly increased due to the foods I was exposed to growing up. It was a shock to him that I was able to shovel down almost anything my mom put in front of me. It was incredibly embarrassing, and the first time in my life where I felt immense shame over my body- I was seven years old.
As I grew older, I received many unpleasant comments in regards to my body from my family and my peers at school, which spiraled into what was later referred to as binge eating. It felt like I had no control over my emotions when I binged. It was comforting and numbing to the growing pain I felt - until the guilt and shame settled in after I finished my episode. It was a vicious cycle that only grew worse.
In the 11th grade, I remember sitting in the cafeteria with my close friends. I was incredibly lightheaded and deep into my disordered eating habits, I didn’t even notice my name being called. My friend asked me to look her in the eye. It was confusing but I complied, only to have her tell me a part of my eye was red. Due to my excessive binging and purging, I had burst a blood vessel. I couldn’t process the pain I was putting my body through until that moment. I did not realize how tired I was, how cold I felt, and how sore my throat was, due to the destruction I was putting myself through.
It wasn’t until my final year of high school where I decided enough was enough. I had already been in and out of therapy due to my depression, but I never discussed my disordered eating patterns until I was 18. My first attempt of help was challenging and not a complete success. My second attempt was even worse since I was prescribed medication that made me gain all the weight I lost, plus more. It was hopeless. I felt defeated and almost gave up completely until my final attempt. I had to go through multiple doctors until I was settled with my psychiatrist. She was extremely understanding and diagnosed me with EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), where I displayed characteristics of other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with bulimia, depression and social anxiety. I was prescribed the proper medication and have shown much improvement.
I gathered the courage to join group therapy, and it was one of the most eye opening experiences I’ve been through. I was surrounded with many incredible people whose stories were heartbreaking yet inspiring. It was surreal being in an environment where many individuals went through similar struggles.
Moving forward, I would have to say I improved drastically. I still struggle with my eating disorder, but I have found many healthy alternatives to keep myself on the right track. With the guidance of my psychiatrist, I have become more mindful of my eating habits and what I put into my body. I began exercising moderately to release my negative emotions, and began reaching out to many of my supportive friends.
Recovery isn’t a linear progress. Relapse is bound to happen to many individuals, and that is okay! That doesn’t make anyone less worthy of living a healthy and safe life. My experience has been incredibly eye opening and I hope it brought comfort to some - and awareness to others - about the challenging aspects of having an eating disorder.
As the great psychologist, Abraham Maslow said, “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.”