My Eating Disorder Story Part 1
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
WARNING: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN TRIGGERING INFORMATION MENTIONING CALORIES, WEIGHT, BODY IMAGE AND EATING DISORDER BEHAVIORS. IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN A POSITION WHERE YOU ARE NOT READY TO PRESENT YOURSELF WITH THIS INFORMATION PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE READING OR STOP READING AT ANY TIME
I never know where to start when talking about my eating disorder- my eating disorder crept up on me and there are so many different ways to tell my story. Eating disorders and recovery are so dynamic and complex, there’s no way to sum it all up in just a few paragraphs or pages.
I felt this was the right time to share my story as it all happened at the end of the year/because of a New Years resolution. Something so innocent spiraled into a full-fledged eating disorder.
I also want to provide a bit of back story about my body image/myself as a teenager to show that eating disorders really can happen to anyone even when you thought in a million years it would never happen to you.
Back in high school I was a hard-core perfectionist when it came to school and my grades. I would constantly burn myself out with studying and homework. I was still a social kid, but hardly ever went to parties. I was very low-key. I didn’t even start drinking until about seventeen. (Okay that sounds young but pretty sure it’s not). I ran cross country in high school- not the best runner but I loved the sport and having a close group of friends. I hardly ever stepped on the scale in high school, usually only at the doctors office, and I didn’t seem to think too much about my weight, what I ate, or body image. I had the occasional moments where I disliked the way I looked or had a bad body image day, but I was able to move on from the thoughts and negativity pretty quickly.
I didn’t know much about eating disorders either, other than the basics you learn in school so I had no idea what the signs and symptoms were and had no way of identifying them within myself when I started to experience them.
Summer after graduation from high school, I started to hear everyone talk about the freshman fifteen. I’m usually one not to get wrapped up in that stuff, but for some reason I became terrified that I would be “that girl” to experience the freshman fifteen. Which in hindsight- it literally does not matter (who cares if you gain fifteen pounds?) But at eighteen it seemed like the end of the world. So that who summer I spent exercising every morning at 6am. I wouldn’t let myself leave until I burned an appropriate number of calories. A number I had set for myself. Then I would only allow myself to eat the amount of calories or less that I had expended during my workout. I would meticulously count and work my body every day. I was pretty flex on the types of foods I would eat, so I hadn’t developed any fear foods at this stage.
At the end of the summer, I was so proud of myself and knew if I kept my routine up, there’s no way the freshman fifteen would even come close to me.
Luckily for me, I got so caught up in the excitement of meeting new friends, classes, being in a brand new city with a newfound independence, I didn’t care what I ate or how much I worked out- I just lived my life carefree and spontaneous. I had so much fun my first semester and killed it in all my classes.
Winter break rolled around and with so much down time, parties, and vacation, I began to realize how “out of control” my eating had become. I started hating the way I felt, so I decided to make a New Year's resolution to eat better. It was pretty innocent- I just wanted to add in a bit more fruits and vegetables and remove some of the “junk” food in my life.
By no means had I wanted to make a drastic life change, just clean up my diet. Yeah, simple.
When I went back to school I was so excited to start my new healthy eating. So excited in fact, I began doing so much research. I was researching cookbooks, diet books, and “healthy” foods. Yahoo was my favorite, because everyday they had different articles about “good” and “bad” foods. Literally pages of “eat this not that” or “this food is surprisingly bad for you” articles. With each article and piece of information, I found myself needing to remove that food from my diet and developed the mentality, “can’t eat this because of this reason.”
Realizing the caloric density of foods as well, I was strictly counting calories again. Restricting myself to 300 calories a day. Now, I say this for reference not to trigger anyone and to emphasize that most people experiencing an eating disorder do in fact still eat and consume calories but consume a very dangerous amount.
I would spend hours at the grocery store reading calorie information and ingredients. Figuring out which foods and drinks I could buy to make it look like I was consuming enough.
While I was engaging in these behaviors, it wasn’t so much about the weight or number on the scale, but more about putting “harmful ingredients” into my body. But of course, my eating disorder was still praising me for becoming smaller and even acquaintances were giving me praise. I don’t blame them in any capacity because of how little people know about eating disorders. We’re conditioned to praise when those around us lose weight.
I became addicted to sleeping pills. It started to become hard to sleep during the beginning of my behaviors because I would be hungry, but later it would physically sleep to hurt from being so malnourished and my joints and bones aching in any position I slept in.
I might say this wrong, but a lot of questions I got after the fact were about how wasn’t I just hungry all the time? Well, no. After time, when your body realizes you won’t provide it with nutrition, it literally blocks your hunger signals (hunger neurotransmitters). It’s as if your body becomes numb to these signals. You can’t feel it and your brain doesn’t register anymore that you’re literally starving because it hasn’t received nutrition in so long. And I mean this doesn’t happen for a long ass time. Like you would have had to be starving yourself for quite some time before your body blocks these signals. Go read up on the science though but that’s my understanding.
Anyways, I was engaging in all of these behaviors, having all these terrible thoughts and constantly thinking about food and calories. When I say constantly, I literally mean all the time. I was struggling in school, big time. I had never struggled in school before and as a perfectionist when it comes to school, this was extremely frustrating. I was going to tutoring and studying all hours of the day. I was taking harder classes and unsure of the direction I wanted to take as far as a major. I was completely homesick. All of these causes of malnourishment. My brain was fucked. I was a shitty friend. I cried all the time.
My friends tried to have a conversation with me- which I shared in a blog post. My parents knew something was up as well and had plans to intervene.
Honestly, most of that time is a blur. I didn’t realize what I was doing to my body. I saw no changes- all I knew was that I was confused about my struggles in school and missed my family. I didn’t see anything wrong with my “love” for food and nutrition. My eating disorder became my best friend in the fact that it pushed me to continue forward. Told me that everything was great and that I was sticking to my New Years resolution so well! Well, that’s because my eating disorder was getting everything it wanted.
A common myth/stereotype about eating disorders is that they are choices or “done” for the sake of attention. I can say with complete confidence that this is not the case. Never was I making a conscious choice to starve myself, deprive my body, and feel miserable 24/7. Your eating disorder makes you believe that it’s rules it has outlined for you are mandatory. Makes you believe that these rules will make your life better, help you achieve your goals, and overall will make you happier. For me, my eating disorder made me believe I was doing everything right. Deep, deep down my true self was screaming out for help and knew all these rules were a lie, but so quickly your eating disorder voice becomes so loud and powerful, that your own is unheard. I lost myself, and turned into someone I didn’t even recognize on the inside.
I spent my 19th birthday in my room, either doing homework or making a meal plan. When I went out to dinner that night with my friends, I didn’t order dessert. A few months later, during my school’s Relay for Life event, an event I had looked forward to all semester was nothing short of miserable. My friends and I continuously made laps around our gym, checking out all the booths, bouncing between friend groups. My body physically ached from all the walking- I felt as though my body was about to collapse. I could feel the pain all the way through my bones. And I was exhausted from pretending I was having the time of my life. I eventually told my friends I had a stomach ache, and that I was heading back to the dorm. Once I returned to my room, it took me a few attempts to make it to the top bunk, for I kept falling from not being strong enough to pull myself up. Eventually I gave up, took a NyQuil to ease the pain, and slept on the floor accepting defeat.
At the end of the semester, I ended up in the hospital and decided the best way to depict that time is to share an excerpt from my old journal-
“I woke up in a haze. A bright light shining into my eyes. Confused, I looked around trying to make sense of where I was. My throat was dry and I rubbed my eyes. Someone was walking towards my bed.
“Time to take your vitals, sweetie.” A soft voice spoke next to me.
“What time is it?” I asked as the words came out broken and groggy.
“It’s four in the morning, hon.”
Well shit. What the fuck was I doing up at this time? I was pissed that this seemed like the billionth time I had been woken up to have my vitals checked. All I wanted was a good night's sleep. Irritably, I went through the motions of having my nurse take my vitals, half awake the entire time. I continuously moped and sighed, knowing that I’d be woken up in just four short hours to repeat the process. Darkness soon filled the room, and I quickly drifted off into sleep once more.
The next morning I was annoyed and irritable. It was my second day in the hospital, and I was hoping to be discharged so I could go to my classes and take a nap. All I wanted was for someone to bring me some fucking coffee and heated blankets.
Around 9am my mom returned back to the hospital from her hotel and listened to me bitch about how I was woken up every four hours. She gently reassured me that we’d be leaving soon and all would be well.
The day prior started off like any other day. I woke up and skipped my 10:25am german class, because Monday, and ate my one hundred calorie yogurt cup. Taking my time, I showered and got ready for my day. My days didn’t consist of much. Since my 10:25am class was my only class that day, I probably went to the student center or stayed in my room to do homework or watch tv. I had an appointment later in the day at my university’s wellness center with the nurse practitioner. I was hoping to get some counseling sessions, but had to meet with the nurse first before continuing- university policy for students.
When I arrived at my wellness center, the nurse took me into the exam room. We went through routine questions, where naturally I lied about my diet, sleep, bowels, energy levels- the whole shebang. The nurse took my heart rate, blood pressure and whatever. Maybe my EKG? I’m not one hundred percent sure, but she repeated a lot of the tests while continuously having me stand up and sit down. At this point I was annoyed, thinking “honey, I’ve got homework to do.”
The nurse was incredibly kind, and I did take a liking to her. These days I didn’t have the energy to care about all too much, so when she explained to me that she'd be sending me to the hospital for dehydration and low heart rate, I agreed figuring I would only be there for a few hours to get things checked out and then be on with my day.
The nurse called and spoke with my mom, who was on the road to Chicago in about 20 minutes after hanging up with her. I called my friends on campus, asking if they could come with me to the hospital.
I was in high spirits when I got to the hospital, very nonchalantly walking into the emergency room. I had my homework, my apple that I would have for dinner, and my friends were on their way- all was well. Little did I know I was entering hell instead of a hospital.”
Obviously, once again experiencing extreme malnourishment, I was a bitch. But it was the third day that my mom sat me down with one of my doctors, finally saying the words out loud- I was being diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.
Part 2 Coming Soon!
Thank you for reading.
All the love,