Eating Disorder My Story
For as long as I can remember, I was always a little heavier than my friends. From six years old on, I had a bigger shaped face, longer legs, and bigger breasts. I used to take pictures with my friends and not think anything of the fact that I was the bigger girl, I just was. I was athletic and had muscles, thicker arms from playing softball and swimming, and it made my Dad proud to know he was raising his daughter not to be a wimp. He used to tell me that I was from a “bigger boned family,” meaning that I’d never be as tiny as my friends Amanda and Tara, who were both the size equivalent of a ballerina that only ate twice a week.
As I got older, my fat sister wasn’t so fat anymore. She had lost all of her baby weight and was sporting crop tops and daisy duke shorts every time she returned home from college. I idolized her new hair cut, her collarbone peeking out from over her tube top, her non-jiggly thighs. I didn’t realize she had lost so much weight from a drug problem, or that she was unhealthily thin. I needed to be as tiny as she was, to follow in her footsteps, to be the cute girl that the neighborhood boys wanted to hang out with. Around that time my parents had split up, were constantly fighting, sticking me in the middle of their arguments. I heard how much of a crazy drunk my mom was from my dad, how abusive my cheating father was from mom, all the while drowning everything out with deep internet searches of Karlie Kloss, and binge watching America’s Next Top Model. That’s how it all started, being a kid lost in a divorce battle, just trying to find someone to look up to.
My first time skipping a meal was probably in seventh grade. I began just not going to lunch at school. Instead I’d go to the nurse’s office, to the computer lab, to the bathroom. I’d sit there and busy myself, throwing away the food that my mom had prepared me the night before. It wasn’t instantaneously noticeable, but I lost weight. My legs felt slimmer, and I was able to fit into my petite neighbor’s clothes easier. I then started to skip breakfast, which was easy because my mom was never too pushy about me eating anything in the morning. I’d started running, walking my dog more, exercising as much as I could. I was 13 and 5’7, and probably around 130 pounds, which was on the smaller side. My parents questioned the weight loss but then blamed the stress of their divorce, my changing body, and my increase of physical activity. My friends weren’t as blind though, and started outcasting me. Two girls I was close with started making fun of my weight loss, calling me Anorexic Annie, and telling me to kill myself. The taunting got so bad I tried to convince my parents to let me change schools, but without explaining to them why, there was no hope. I stuck it out at that school until I graduated, and it was on to high school in Manhattan.
My eating habits dwindled down to a mere small meal a day, sometimes less, in freshman year. I’d chosen a high school in Manhattan, far away from my home in Staten Island, just to escape everyone that I knew. I would take the 6:20 AM ferry to the city, and walk all the way from 24th to 13th street to get extra exercise in. Every chance I had I was skipping meals, and purging if I felt I had eaten too much. I went from a size 9 to a size 1 in a matter of months, without any repercussions. Until I stopped getting my period. My mom noticed because I had stopped asking her to buy me pads, and questioned when the last time I had menstruated was. I lied and told her it was two weeks prior, and she pressured me. I remember crying and begging her not to take me to the doctor’s, that it was normal to miss a few periods. She asked if it was also normal for me to be getting sick constantly, since at this time I had caught a cold every two weeks. She asked if it was normal for me to sleep until 2 PM every day that I could, if it was normal for me to bruise so easily, for me to suddenly become anemic. I told my mom for the first time in my life that day that I hated her and that I shouldn’t have been born, that I hated that she was my drunk mother, that she didn’t love me. I’m positive I selfishly broke my mother’s heart that day. She took away my phone for a month, and sent me a few blocks away to live at my dad’s house. There I shut myself away in my bedroom, sleeping and doing sit-ups. I’d leave only for school or to go to the gym with my other skinny friends, pushing my body to exhaustion. I walked everywhere rather than taking the bus simply because I liked how men looked at my teenage lanky body when they passed in their cars. It was disgusting, self absorbed gratification.
I continued this way all the way to college, seeing a therapist every other week that was no help, my weight fluctuating from 100-120 pounds, ending up in the hospital every now and then due to “unexplained” illness, struggling with dizziness and exhaustion. My hair started to fall out and I cut it all off. I went days without eating right before college, hoping to squeeze into some skinnier clothes that I had bought for my first week of school. I remember moving into my dorm and having my roommate tell me how skinny and pretty I was. My sister would come and visit and bring me junk food, which I gobbled up and then purged when she left. I felt like a prisoner in my own bones.
My first semester I was lost at college. I didn’t fit in anywhere, and what few friends I had made were always critical of my lack of food intake. Until I met Meghan, I was alone. When I met Meghan, I was sitting by myself outside of my dorm hall and she was playing her violin. She had thick meaty arms that were powerful and talented, and she was a larger girl. We talked about her music experience, and she commented how tiny I was, joking that I was a model. As our friendship grew, Meghan invited me over her house and would try and cook for me. She noticed that I would barely touch the food she made, and always tried to ask if it was because I didn’t like her cooking, or if something was going on. I blamed it on OCD, saying I was just particular about what I would and wouldn’t eat, and that she shouldn’t be worried. Meg continued to push me about why I was so thin, and prompted me to join a group of students that all got together twice a week for some guidance. She suggested I try a therapist, telling me that a professional would be able to help. When I was in my second semester of freshman year, I started weekly meetings with a school funded psychologist under the premises that I just “needed a little mental release.” What I found sitting in the offices of Dr. Kim was comfort and support, a woman that understood what I was suffering from. She recommended outpatient therapy groups, nutritionists, and worked with me to begin to eat again.
At first it was absolute mental torture. I stopped fitting into size 1’s and 3’s. I filled out, and felt fat. I only ate peanut butter and apple slices for lunch, sticking to the same kinds of foods, trying to regain my control. But I noticed such a difference. I was emotionally overwhelmed with how much more energy I had, how everyone was telling me that I looked better. Meg was the most supportive for me, bringing me food at my dorm, talking me through the roughest stages of relapses, always hugging me as warmly as she could to let me know that I wasn’t alone. She always said that she was glad I was her best friend whenever she saw me, and it gave me a sense of self worth that I never had before.
When my parents came to visit, I had a long talk with my mom about me being in outpatient. She became aggravated telling me that I was being dramatic, that I didn’t have an eating disorder, I was just faking it. It was incredibly hurtful to me that she would belittle my struggles, and this harmed my progress for some time. I took three weeks off from therapy, and began making myself puke with a toothbrush every time I ate. My stomach burned with resentment and anger, and I lost several pounds in a matter of days. It was then that I made the worst decision of my life.
On March 19th of 2014 I tried to take my own life by swallowing a bottle of pills. I felt helpless, like my eating disorder had eaten away every last part of me, and I just wanted to escape the pain I was feeling from everywhere around me. My roommate found me doubled over on the floor in our dorm, clutching my stomach, half unconscious and called 911. I don’t remember much of that day, or the weeks after it. I know I had my stomach pumped and that I suffered multiple massive seizures in the ambulance on the way to the ER. I was medicated and hospitalized for two weeks, most of which was spent with eating disorder specialists and a professional that diagnosed me with body dysmorphia, suicidal tendencies, OCD, and anorexia. I was discharged and left in the hands of my watchful sister. She sat me down and talked to me about her drug addiction struggles in college, and continually told me how much my family loved me. She cooked my favorite foods, and bought me new bigger clothes that were my “grow into” clothes, things that would fit nicely once I was fully healthy. Meghan was in my corner too, taking me for froyo, cooking me cookies, loving me as hard as she could. From beginning to end, my eating disorder took away almost all of my teenage years, and consumed my every thought for countless days and nights.
Now, at 22, I’m 180 pounds. I eat healthy but don’t restrict myself, and I’m proud of my shape. I went from a 30 A bra size to a 36 DDD with my weight gain. I’m now a size 12 in jeans, and couldn’t be prouder. As an adult I realize so much that I wish I had known as a kid. I discovered the power of self love, and how sexy a woman can be when she allows herself to truly be free of worry surrounding her shape or size. I’ve discovered how relaxing and enjoyable eating a nice fulfilling meal can be, how fun it is to try new types of foods and different restaurants. I’ve been successful in college and in my career life, and now live on my own in an apartment, without any full length mirrors. I try not to stress about what other women look like in comparison to me because we’re all shaped differently. I don’t get caught up on the Kardashians’ new bodies, or the latest ANTM episodes because I realize so many of those girls are miserable, trapped in their own bodily prisons. I wish as a teenager someone had told me how great it would feel to have a full head of hair that wasn’t constantly falling out, or how much better my body feels when I get my period normally rather than every few months. I can’t lie and say that I don’t feel fat every few days, but I also tell myself that it’s all relative, and that I’m blessed to be alive. My parents don’t speak about my mental breakdown or my eating disorder, but my sister does on occasion, and tells me how proud she is of me whenever she sees me. We’re now the same size in pants which is great because I can always “borrow” her jeans when I go to visit (and sometimes “accidentally” end up taking them home with me.) I’m still incredibly close with Meghan, although we live far away from each other now. When I go back to visit her we always get froyo and talk about how lucky we are to be friends. Now that I’m more mature, I realize how much of my struggle was peer pressure to look my best, and how much of it was also me grasping for power when I felt so weak in everything that was happening in my life.
If you’re struggling from an eating disorder, you aren’t alone. So many men and women struggle, especially teenagers and young adults. It’s hard to acknowledge when you need help, and sometimes you don’t realize until it’s too late. I wish I had stopped before my hair began to shed, or before my teeth became yellowed from throwing up so much. But I’m lucky that my suicide attempt and eating disorder didn’t take away this beautiful life from me. I’m grateful everyday to be the woman that I am, full figured, and strong. I hope you read this and realize that you aren’t alone, and that there is someone out there that cares about you. I hope you realize that your worth depends on everything but your body size, and that you have an entire life to look forward to.