I spent half my life fighting against myself, asking for help was what made me stop.

Sara Tiala
4 min readMay 22, 2021

The day I realised I was sick was in January 2007. I was still playing handball and at school we had our LIA which is like workplace training.
We had lunch and I was alone in the classroom, there were some leftover gingerbread cookies on the counter and I ate them. I don’t remember how many but too many and ran to the bathroom to puke it all up. I think I called or texted two of my closest friends saying I really needed to talk and in the evening at practise we sat down on a bench and I told them
“I think I have bulimia”.

I don’t quite remember when it started or how it started and that’s not really the point either. I was 16 years old when it started and I turn 32 this year. That is half my life being aware that I have eating disorders, it probably started much earlier than that.

I also remember the day I told someone else for the second time. I was 22, lived in California as an au pair and truly had a fantastic time. I showed my best friend my journal, all the horrificness I wrote about myself and my poems which was how I coped with the chaos rummaging through my brain causing all the havoc within me. I know that I the decided I will never again make myself puke. I don’t think I held that promise but I do know that the bulimic part of my eating disorder shifted into something else. I gained more weight that one year in California then I had ever in my life and for a breif moment it didn’t bother me. I was just feeling so free from the need of compensating eating with puking that I for the first time in I don’t know how long actually enjoyed food.

After I returned home to Sweden my dad got sick. Like life and death sick. I stopped eating, that was how I coped with the enormous amount of anxitey, stress and trauma that I was under. I don’t think I ate for the first days he was in the hospital, then when he was out of the most critical phase maybe I ate like a meal a day, if even. So, I got skinny again, skinnier than I had been in my life. I fitted in the same clothes I worn when I was 14, now as a 23 year old. And the compliments from people, wow I don’t think I have ever heard my body being so complimented. Inside I was breaking, I didn’t sleep at night terrified I would wake up and my dad would be dead but sure my legs where skinny and I finally had a flat stomach.

The years went on and I didn’t slip into bulimia again but I was hell bent on keeping my new skinny skin suit since people obviously preffered me in this one. So I kept an eye on what I ate, stopped eating french fries to my hamburgers because “I don’t like potatoes that much” (I lied, I was just scared they were gonna make me fat) and I got sucked into the detox pills and diet teas and the 7 minute workout and the awesome transformation photos and bought all these amazing training courses from the super skinny women so I could look just like them when I noticed that I was starting to gain a little bit of weight, doing everything in my power to work against my body.

Then I had another traumatic event happen, this one was a heart breaking that I never had experienced in my entire life. This time I knew food would become either something I pushed away or would seek support from so I went to yoga instead, thinking that working out is good for you so why not do that.
I worked out so much, for a year I went to numerous Bikram Yoga classes (this was before I was aware what Bikram had done and as soon as I was aware I cancelled my membership).
These classes lasted for 90 minutes in a 40 degree heat so they put the body through a lot. The thing is, on their website the studio had tips and tricks on what to not eat like 2–3 hours before a class so I started to get a little stricter with what I ate, then of course being home at like 8:30–9 pm made it to late to cook dinner so I just had a salad or ramen noodles. This limited foot intake and counting of hours for when I could eat what became part of my health regime until I realised that I had just substituted or morphed my eating disorder into a new phase.

When the pandemic continued and we headed for the fall and darker times here in Sweden I was scared. I understood that I had been battling the issue of myself and my body for 15 years and I was tired. So tired of fighting against that voice in my head that kept telling me how much I sucked, that I can only have that bun if I go on a 2 hour walk and god forbid I eat some ice-cream without having done a workout first.

So I got myself a therapist and thank freaking life that I did. She helped me see the real root of my pattering. That my grip on the eating and the control was a symptom of fears that I have carried with me from an early age.
I can’t say that I am free from those patterns and feelings and thoughts.
What I can say is that I am not working against myself consistently anymore.
I don’t have to fight with my body every minute of the day.



Sara Tiala

I love stories. Reading them and writing them. There is power in getting our stories out of us and into the world.