For a good while my eating disorder wasn’t something I wanted to fight against. I flirted with the idea of death, due to the starvation. I daydreamed about one day having a heart attack because I starved my heart’s ability to support me any longer. That might sound fucked up because it certainly is. Only, it’s not like that wasn’t my reality. Anorexia stirs even the most rational brain into an irrational one. It’s impossible to summarize how it changes one’s thinking and desires in life. Everyone’s story is different, but this is mine:
There isn’t one day I remember waking up and desiring to lose weight and hating any fat I had. It honestly gradually built since I was a little girl, is it too far to say since I was born? In my other post, called My story. Let’s get it all out there, I share how I was born prematurely. Therefore, ever since I could understand speech I was told how I was so tiny when I was born. Then as I got older how cute and little I still was. Friends would comment how I was just “skin and bone” and somehow I took pride in that. I remember when I became more aware of my body in 4th and 5th grade. I started wearing tighter shirts and skipping breakfast. I would do sit ups before school to make my stomach “flatter” for the day. Those are also the years I would get weak after a hot shower and almost pass out. My mom would have to come with crackers while a laid on the floor soaking wet, wrapped in my towel. I remember getting so pale, sometimes losing eyesight, and shaking. Looking back, it always seems obvious, doesn’t it?
As I grew older and moved on to middle school, 6th grade-8th grade, I would do the same things except now I began to grow fearful of eating in front of people. I feared doing something weird and everyone watching me. So, I started to skip lunch too. I remember the guidance counselor commenting on how I looked “quite thin, but not anorexic or anything.” That just reinforced my brain that there was nothing wrong with me. I wasn’t sick and never could be! In 8th grade I got this book called Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and I remember wishing I could be just like the girl with anorexia, but I knew my weight wasn’t thin enough. Once I got to high school I began to run cross country, I also went on my first antidepressant which caused me to gain weight. I hated its side effect, so I went off it cold turkey. My mom somehow supported this decision because I remember telling her about it. She didn’t try and stop me. That next year, my sophomore year, after being off the medication I think I became more depressed than I realized. My eating disorder dipped to a new and unsustainable low. I decided to find an “ana buddy” in the UK and we’d email each other about how caloric intake and how much we’ve lost or gained. We’d encourage the disorder, even still, I never thought I had actual anorexia. It wasn’t until I started to feel extremely suicidal around the holidays that I realized my life had taken a turn. I ended up being honest and calling my dad about my desire to die. He rushed home, long story short, I ended up in an adolescent psychiatric unit where I would spend the next two weeks. While there, I let it slip out about my restricting and desire to lose weight. I remember telling my parents and my dad saying, “yeah, I guess I do see it in your face” when referring to the weight I’d lost. We were all so ignorant to what an eating disorder was.
I was transferred to their eating disorder unit to where my dad and I thought I’d spend possibly another week at. When I realized, I’d be there for most likely month or more I was shocked! I wanted to get out, but it turned out to be the best place I could have gone. It was where my dad learned how to truly help me and when I started to learn how toxic my mom was for me. I spent the next 3 months there and while it was terrifying, it was where I needed to be. I needed to learn how to eat healthy for the first time ever in my life honestly. From the earliest I can remember I had problems with food.
I did relapse after I was discharged, however. My weekend home before I was discharged, I lost weight, and my mom still, against medical advice, discharged me. So, to say the least, it was bound to happen. When I first left to go home, though, I felt so alive. I felt like I was better and I could take care of myself! I felt like whole new me. Only, I didn’t listen to the rules I learned about nourishing my body on my own. It didn’t feel purposeful to restrict. It was almost like it “just happened”. Only, once I noticed the weight coming off, I was addicted to my anorexia all over again. Therefore, it’s important to not shrug off any weight loss as “normal fluctuations” in treatment! Anyways, it was in that time that I met my therapist who I still talk to today. My dad encouraged me to still seek treatment, but it took months afterwards to find someone. The program Adrianna worked at, specialized in eating disorders, had group therapies, family therapy, and even had meal groups together. I also got a nutritionist there, but it wasn’t intensive enough for how far I’d already dived back into my eating disorder. I needed to be monitored for every meal.
It was the spring of my Junior year in high school I was sent to another treatment center. I hated it there, it was nothing like my first place. I didn’t get along with much of the patients there and the treatment teams were harsh and cold people. It wasn’t a supportive environment. I ate every meal and gained as much weight as I possibly could to get out of there ASAP. I trusted myself to relapse after I was released because it was only a few months after that I’d be 18. Being 18 meant I couldn’t be forced into treatment anymore. I could cause as much harm to my body as I wanted. I could ultimately die.
The amount my eating disorder consumed me amazes me today. It wasn’t that I was selfish and didn’t care about the harm I was causing everyone else around me, but rather I was so sick the reality of their words didn’t make sense to me. Hearing people say I need help and I’m too sick didn’t impact me, I remember laughing somewhat at those comments. I was in complete denial.
I didn’t see how obsessing over how the peanut butter I ate earlier is going to make me gain 5lbs. I didn’t see how me fearing 5lbs was irrational. I didn’t see how, rather, gaining weight would have been a good, healthy thing for my body. Instead, I repeatedly looked up diets. I calculated my calories. I watched YouTube videos on anorexia religiously. I watched them over and over, obsessing how all these girls managed to lose weight and look so sick, but I couldn’t be them. Tragically, I very well was. I spent hours googling the quickest weight loss tips and how to burn the most calories during the day. I scared myself over the science behind skipping meals and how it’s supposed to lower the metabolism. I rationalized that I had to eat less and less, to compensate.
I didn’t see how a 4th grader worrying about her stomach bulging out with her tight shirt is so heartbreaking. I didn’t see how the doctors assumed my weight was naturally underweight even though I remember one year admitting to them I skipped breakfast and lunch. Their solution? They recommended my mom bought a nutrition shake for me to bring to school. I didn’t see how sick I was. What’s even worse? No one else did.
We all need better awareness, because I could have been on a much healthier path much earlier on in my life if I had just had the proper care and treatment when I needed it first!
My eating disorder, while I’m in a much healthier place today, still does affect me. It is a lifelong struggle, especially when living in a society that has such a huge diet industry and fat shames. My weight is not where I want it to be at and I find myself making excuses as to why it’s okay. When really, I need to be fighting to eat enough and nourish my body. I can confidently say, however, I will never be as sick as I used to be. My perception is significantly better than it used to be. I don’t admire sickly thin anymore. Instead I desire to gain weight and look healthier. I want to feel stronger. This is a huge deal for me as for most of my life I thought the opposite way. It wasn’t easy, it took so much support from others and the proper treatment to get me to where I am. It also took the loss of my brother after my second treatment discharge, for me to realize my value to my family and how I couldn’t be their second child to die. I needed to keep fighting. So I did. J
I have below a picture of me at different weights.
The one on the left is me my sophomore year in college, which is about the weight I’m at today. It’s not where I want to be, but I can still love myself. Then, the middle pic is not me even at my lowest weight, it’s also my sophomore year of college, but months later after I had a severe hiccup in recovery. It happens, though, and I still gained weight back on my own. I just want to gain more to where I’m close to the weight I was at on the left. That was me right after my second treatment. It’s a healthy me. It’s a beautiful me. I thought I was “so fat” then, but looking back I looked good! Which is so truthful to how sick anorexia makes your mind. My point in showing these pictures are to show how while recovery can be brutal and terrifying, it doesn’t make you fat. Even if a doctor comments on how you might be “overweight” or something, it doesn’t mean you’re not where your body needs to be to function properly. My best friend, who I met in my first treatment, had that happen to her and she realizes now that 1: she looked amazing still and 2: it’s where her body needed to be at the time 3: it’s still around the weight she’s at now and she’s fully recovered. Therefore, just because a non-eating disorder doctor might comment about your weight, don’t trust them! They just don’t understand. They missed me being significantly sick, I’m not surprised they criticize healthy too.
Feel free to comment with questions below about more of my journey or any tips on recovery! I just felt I rambled on enough for now. Have a splendid day! J