“I have learned to accept myself for who I am” [Interview]

1. Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?

My name is Awonke Nondabula from South Africa. I am 22 years old. I am doing my third year at the university studying the bachelor of Education and I used to have binge eating disorder, bulimia and a bit of anorexia.

2. How did your eating disorder begin and how was it like?

My eating disorder started in 2012 after the December holidays when I came back to school and my male friend told me that my cheeks look chubby now and that I was getting ugly. I started to restrict my eating to get my cheekbones back. I would starve for days and succeed and he complimented me and said now I look like myself. It carried on until one day on a Friday evening when I came home from school everything came tumbling down. I had this crazy urge to eat huge amounts of food. I couldn’t control it. If I tried to stop I would literally go mentally insane. I went to the shop and bought a lot of food, I ate until I was stuffed. Yes, I was relieved from hunger but the feelings of guilt and fears of gaining weight crept in. I couldn’t vomit so what I did was sleep and woke up the next day and went for a long run and starved the next day. From that experience, I started starving, binging and exercising. I tried everything to recover but as soon as I started to gain weight I panicked. I was also scared of not exercising. The eating disorder completely isolated me from everyone. I never had friends because I stopped being friends with that “friend” of mine. I started hiding food, fasting, and exercising secretly. Eating disorder made my life a living hell. There was no day when I didn’t think about food and my weight. My whole world revolved around it.

13706249_511290869066871_1196194788_n3. How did you start to recover?

Last year from July I searched for anorexics’ diets and found pro-ana websites which really fueled my eating disorder – anorexia. I stopped functioning well mentally. I would sleep in the campus at desks because I didn’t want to be around food. I would eat from garbage cans and developed food rituals. This continued for 3 months. But then I started to realize that if I keep doing this I will fail at school. I couldn’t study anymore since I wanted to sleep all the time. When I decided to stop the anorexia tendencies I binged that night. The next morning I thought of starving myself again but I knew that if I wanted to pass my grades I had to stop this because my energy was really dropping. I decided to go to the shop and buy whatever I wanted,  I went to the computer and searched for recovery and I came across Nina V. The first video I was was about THE 3 KILLERS TO BINGE EATING DISORDER RECOVERY. I was so shocked to see a thin person being against restriction and dieting. I watched her videos and I was crying and decided that this is what I want and I started my recovery with intuitive eating. I had seen Elisa’s 2 videos in the middle of my eating disorder I think it was 2013 talking about her eating disorder and how she recovered “ate a block of butter in one week and how a vegan diet helped the skin problem” but at the time I didn’t want to give up the dieting so I ignored her. Now after the Nina V videos, I started watching more of Elisa’s videos too. She helped me tremendously with recovery because she made everything seem so simple and relatable. I honestly wouldn’t have recovered without her help because she treats bingeing in recovery as extreme hunger and as normal and that helps me even today because I still experience it.

4. Where are you now in your journey? How has your eating changed for the better?

I wouldn’t say I am completely recovered yet. It has been 9 months now since I started recovery and I had a lot of setbacks but I try to be consistent with eating enough and eating intuitively. My biggest problem has been stopping the exercise and it didn’t help that a leader of an Athletics club saw me running and has registered me as a professional runner. Just after entering my binging came back and I decided to quit about a month ago. Right now I feel I’m really recovering and even though I find it hard to stop exercising I have promised myself to really stop it and I have stopped. Now I eat whatever I want when I want. During my recovery, I started following high carb low-fat vegan lifestyle and it didn’t help with cravings and binges so I decided to eat everything I want even though it’s one of the hardest things ever but I don’t care anymore. I do look chubbier than I looked when a “friend” told me but I don’t care. I hope my body will balance out one day but I’ve stopped putting my self-worth in how much I weigh or how I look.

13664773_511291045733520_124484246_n5. What are some of the most important aspects of recovery in your opinion? What helped you the most?
  1. Being sick and tired of being sick and tired; I mean just to be at the place where you completely give up and realize from your heart that restriction will never work.
  2. Let go of any attempts to try and control your weight.
  3. To know that exercise is part of an eating disorder because it goes hand in hand with dieting.
  4. Stop comparing yourself to others. I was obsessed with Victoria’s secret models and celebrities and I would compare myself to them, every time I followed my hunger I would also listen to their diets and stuff.
  5. To know that if people really love you they will never care how much you weigh and that you should start loving yourself unconditionally.

What helped me the most was seeing other people who have recovered telling me to do the scariest thing which is to eat whatever you want when you want and however much you want. I was helped by Elisa Oras, Nina Vucetic, Shaye, Pauline Hanuise. I am really grateful. I realize that being homosexual is worse than being a girl when it comes to body image and people don’t make it any easy but I have learned to accept myself for who I am and realized that if a man loves me he will love me whether I am 40 kgs or 200 kgs.

Contact Awonke:

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: Awonke Nondabula.

[If you want to share your story about recovery you can contact me: [email protected]]

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6 thoughts on ““I have learned to accept myself for who I am” [Interview]”

  1. Love these recovery/recovering stories, these help more than anything else does for me. Sharing your journey/story through eating disorder[ED], takes a lot of courage. Just know you guys are helping a lot of people. Thank You Elisa and Awonke.

    Keep it up; Elisa,
    Thank You

  2. I think we need more celebs, male & female, showing support for all sizes. Then maybe we can begin to encourage healthy body images of girls who are so influenced by the media. In addition to that, we need more non-celebs like Awonke & Elisa to share their stories & healing. We truly aren’t alone in this struggle.

    1. i also really hope the mainstream media will also change towards accepting all kinds of different bodies! And thank you! <3

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