When I say “eating disorder,” I know what you’re picturing -- skipping meals, binging and purging, and extreme restriction. But we often don’t recognize how eating disorders come in so many different shapes, sizes and forms.

I told myself I was just eating healthy. By eating “healthy,” I had limited myself to good foods and bad foods.

But it didn’t stop there. Eating “healthy” led to deprivation. A not-so-fun game of “how long can I go without eating?” I still can’t believe the amount of pride I felt each time that got longer.

And as time went on that “bad foods” list kept on growing and growing as the “good foods” shrunk to nothing.

I had the nutrition label of every food known to man memorized. I was a sort of human calculator for calorie count, as well as the grams of protein, fat, carbs, sugar, etc. I could tell you a running total of exactly how many calories I had eaten at any given point of the day, but somehow, I still couldn’t get an A on my math test.

I didn’t really think about much else other than food.

I was depressed, deprived and disgustingly proud.

I thought I had to change myself to be like those people I saw on social media. Because society values those who are skinny, perfect, healthy, and fit.

We throw around phrases like “Look at what I ate, I’m so fat,” “It’s fine, I’ll work it off in the gym tomorrow,” and “I ate so much today, I just won’t eat tomorrow.” Thank you society for making my eating disorder normal.

You probably didn’t notice me hide my ear-to-ear grin when you commented,

“Kylie, you look SO skinny,”

“Wow, you’re so tiny,” and

“Man, you barely eat anything.”

*my eating disorder took a bow*

My desperate mind mistook those for compliments.

It was as if I was looking into a carnival mirror all the time. I thought I looked normal. Yeah, eating disorders play you like that.

The worst part is that it never really goes away. Our world is so ingrained with those emotional triggers for old habits. It is so easy to find normalcy in self-hate and restrictive eating because that’s how our society is.

It’s been a long journey, but I can finally say I’m happy and at a healthy weight. My eating disorder still rears its head with those ugly thoughts from time-to-time, and I still fall victim to comparison. But it does get BETTER. I no longer count calories. I don’t compartmentalize my eating, and I don’t’ have to look to social media and the comments of others to define me.