Updated: Feb 18
In a heartwarming piece, Alekhya Bhat talks about her battle with her eating disorder, and her journey towards self love. Warning: This article discusses some topics that may be triggering to some readers. Discretion is advised.
Perfection is such an incredibly complex word. So few know the actual depth behind those three syllables, yet so many strive towards achieving that status. So many people stare at themselves in the mirror and analyze every part, picking at their blemishes and places they wished they could change. The scars on their face. The bags under their eyes. The fault lines that shattered through their visage and left them feeling like an earthquake had hit them and everything they were, leaving them as nothing but a horrible, egregious mess.
If someone had asked me whether I’d had that mentality even a month ago, I would have silently agreed.
It was the typical reason, really - bullying. The use of subtle, spiteful remarks from the people I was close to told me exactly who I was to them. Where I stood in their eyes. It confirmed my deepest fears and reinforced all my imperfections. “You’re the DUFF of the group,” I’d hear, a mocking lilt to their tones. “You look a little like a chipmunk!” Everything I’d once found pride in was falling apart beside me, and I was desperately trying to cling to the last strands of dignity I possessed like it was sand slipping through my fingers. “Your voice is squeaky, miserable, high-pitched and overdone,” I’d hear. “You’re nothing but an image ruiner. One that no one cares about. One that no one will ever care about.”
Every caustic word got to me. Every comment would hit me like a blow. It was like a knife that poked your arm continuously until the blood flowed out. Until you were nothing but a heap of gashes and wounds, crying for help in an empty world that didn’t care enough. The cacophony of insults was deafening. I was the quintessential insecure teenager, tenuous to the outside world. The worst part was that this was cyberbullying through an anonymous source at my school, so I didn’t even know who to blame for making me feel so miserable.
I’d shamelessly stare at myself in the mirror for hours on end, sucking in my stomach and jutting out my lips. How was it that everyone else I knew had so much more confidence radiating off of them? I’d surreptitiously watch them act, how they moved and copy it. Yet I didn’t hit the mark. I was never good enough. The minute I felt like there was a possibility of me crumbling, I took it and felt myself fall apart.
Soon enough, I was on a spiralling slide that only went downhill, more slippery at each twist and turn. I began throwing up all my meals and became completely bulimic, losing pound after pound. I started to feel physical pain more often because anything seemed more pleasant than having to deal with my clamouring thoughts of negativity. I became tired, sleepy, sluggish, and deathly pale. The repeated throwing up caused a high build-up of acid in my body that began weakening my oesophagus, causing severe acid re-fluxes that made my entire throat and mouth burn like someone had set fire to it.
Once my parents found out about the bulimia and how my system had gotten so bad that I physically couldn’t keep food down, they took me to the hospital to get checked up for gastrointestinal cancer. I had to get an endoscopy done. The doctors said the tests came back negative and explained how lucky I was that I didn’t have cancer, and if the bulimia had gone on for any longer, I would have been diagnosed with Stage One.
This scared the living daylights out of me. I couldn’t believe that I’d allowed the opinions of other people to influence my judgment and nearly ruin my life in the process.
And all of a sudden, it hit me.
There are so many people who love me for who I am. Before I realized this, it seemed like the only people whose opinions mattered to me were the ones that hated me. Everyone else, I took for granted.
Most people live under the impression that they're constantly being judged for their slip-ups, drawbacks, and flaws. But here's the thing- everyone's so fixated on their own imperfections that they tend not to notice yours.
My friends said I was beautiful. My family said I was beautiful. Everyone who mattered to me thought I was beautiful, except one person.
So finally, I looked at myself in the mirror. I stared really long and hard. I wasn’t perfect, and I knew that. Sometimes, maybe, I wouldn’t even get a second glance from the passers-by.
But I was me. I was a girl who could be strong if I tried to ignore what everyone said. I knew that if I wanted to, I’d be able to see myself for who I was.
So I started doing one simple but effective thing- telling myself one thing I loved about being me every day.
It’s like the push-up theory. Do five push-ups in one day, every day, and you’ll start to see the effect on your overall stamina. Just like that, with every little aspect of myself that I realized I loved, I became a little happier. I began to shine a little brighter and laugh a little louder.
Sure, even now, I’m not the coolest or the smartest or the hottest or the funniest. I have my flaws, and I have my drawbacks.
But I love myself. And to me, that’s pretty perfect.
To learn more about her journey visit www.nomorebullymia.com