I know some of you must be thinking, “Who is this girl? What’s her story?” There is no short answer, so that’s why I’ve been avoiding addressing it. I’m going to try to avoid triggering people with specific weights, but please, don’t read this if you are especially vulnerable. Here’s my ED story:
I’ve always been a sensitive, perfectionistic person. Being homeschooled, my mother graded my work. Though, I felt she was grading me. I was totally vulnerable, and she knew every flaw. Mom is very perfectionistic, but not as sensitive as I am. This lead to many breakdowns and tears. My sister was homeschooled as well, and I felt so insecure. Because she was a year younger, I thought I should always have better grades. That didn’t happen, so I felt like an idiot. Sissie is incredibly smart. She hasn’t graduated high-school yet, and she’s in Honors Calculus 3 at our local college. Looking back, I was not stupid. My sister and I are totally different people with different gifts. But, I had no one else to compare myself to.
My athletic ability was the only thing that gave me self-esteem. I loved running around, and I have pretty good hand-eye coordination. Another plus, my sister hates any kind of physical activity, so it was one thing I could do better than her. My parents would brag that I could outrun all of the guys on my baseball team. So, whenever the local recreation department shut down, it was a huge blow. I had lost part of my identity. This happened when I was around twelve, right before puberty. I gained a considerable amount of weight because I was more sedentary, and my body was getting ready for menarche.
Whenever I went to my 13th birthday checkup, my doctor told my mom in front of me that I was on the path to being overweight. The doctor then lifted up my shirt and patted my belly. Humiliated, I decided to cut out all desserts. Then, I got rid of snacks. After a while, I noticed calorie counts. I started limiting my calories to 300 a meal. I didn’t know a person needed 1800 a day. The first time I weighed myself after my appointment, I was shocked. Ten pounds had disappeared. Smiling, I decided I wanted to lose a bit more. Dance Dance Revolution became my favorite game. Thirty minutes minimum of activity a day became another rule. Doing pilates and using exercise videos became a new “phase” in my ED. Around this time, my parents noticed I had lost weight, and they decided to start weighing me. When I had lost fifteen pounds in six months, Mom and Dad decided to start making me drink 3 ensures a day. I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted as long as I drank those three shakes. I was terrified of them. I’d water them down to make my parents think I was drinking them, and I drastically cut my intake. Then, disaster struck.
I was dehydrated because I had worked outside with my Dad and very malnourished. I was taking a shower, and the next thing I knew, I was on the tile floor. I had tripped over the tub, and my forehead had hit the sink counter. Stunned, I called for Mom. For weeks, I was dizzy and nauseous. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. I was admitted to the hospital and hooked to IVs, then discharged while I was still dealing with the nausea. I lost a ton of weight because I couldn’t keep down food or liquid for two weeks. All of a sudden, the hospital doctors demanded I be tube-fed and sent to an eating disorder clinic. My parents were shocked. I hadn’t even been diagnosed with an eating disorder at the time. Threatened with legal action from the hospital, Mom and Dad sent me to the Renfew Center in Cocoa Beach. If you’ve ever watched the HBO movie “THIN,” you’d know this was no place for a sheltered 13 year old. After two weeks of treatment hell, my parents discharged me AMA and decided to use the Maudsley Method. Unfortunately, the damage was done. The nutritionists in treatment had taught that one dessert a week was enough for anyone, whole grain was the way to go, and trans fats were the devil. I hadn’t memorized the calories of many foods before treatment. Afterwards, I knew the calories of everything. I was hyper-aware of the sugar grams in everything. The Maudsley Method kept me out of the hospital, but I still had tons of food fears and OCD habits. Along the way, I developed bulimia to keep my weight up, yet not have to feel full.
A year ago, I decided I wanted to get better, but I didn’t know how. I was a miserable, anxious wreck. My parents and I found the Selah House in Indiana, a Christian residential eating disorder center. It was one of the best choices I have ever made. I was surrounded by loving and caring people. Instead of giving me a set of rules around food, they taught that “all foods can fit.” I had a relapse, but now I’m feeding myself on my own. I have a lot of bad days, but now, I have good days, too. I’m going to recover, but it’s going to take time. I’m determined to be a “normal” intuitive eater. It feels so foreign, but I want to get there.