December 23, 2011:
“Hello, yes. It’s Dr. — from the Pediatric ER. I have a 17 year old female with mild anorexia. She also has appendicitis.”
Wait, what? How did he know? I thought I hid it so well. I mean, he is a doctor. I hope he’s not judging me.
For me, it started when I became so depressed I wanted to die. It started in 9th grade, and it didn’t end until college. It started when the cutting wasn’t enough to make my pain go away. And even when I decided to live, when I put down the razor for the last time, I didn’t start eating again.
It got worse.
I walked into the Dining Hall on the first day of my College Experience. I saw so many beautiful faces. I wasn’t one of them, so I walked out.
When I tell people I was anorexic, they find it hard to believe. Sometimes I find it hard to believe. I find it hard to believe that a year ago I was skipping meals like an atheist skips church. I didn’t need God. My God was my rumbling stomach, and I found comfort in the rumbly in my tummy (as Pooh Bear would say).
I stopped eating because I didn’t think I was beautiful enough. I would get up everyday, and I would look in the mirror, hate what I saw, and would compensate by being someone I’m not. And it was physically and mentally exhausting. Between the not eating and the not being, I was having a really hard time.
I was fighting a Battle of Comparisons, and I couldn’t win. I was always not good enough, not pretty enough, not ‘insert adjective here’ enough.
And people don’t understand when I explain to them I wasn’t trying to die. I was trying to live. But I didn’t know how to live in a body I hated so much. I felt like my life was spiraling out of control, and there was nothing I could do about it. So, I controlled the one thing I knew how: the amount of food I ate.
And everyday it was a battle. Everyday is a battle for people who struggle with anorexia. Your stomach is telling you to eat, but your mind is telling you, “Nah, bro. No good.” And how can you argue with that? You know what they say: Mind over matter. Or in this case: Mind over stomach growling. It’s finding the perfect balance between how much you want to eat and how much you’re willing to let yourself eat. It’s about taking one bite at a time until you hate yourself so much you can’t take another bite. And then it’s about repeating this action over and over.
It gets to the point where you have two options: either you die, or you get help.
I got help. I told my friends. They started holding me accountable, eating lunch with me, checking to make sure I ate, making sure I didn’t skip a meal.
And I don’t know when things began to change. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to start eating. And I don’t know why I had the sudden change of mind. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I was worth enough to eat. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I was beautiful. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide my life was back in control, because it’s not. I don’t have my life controlled. At all.
But I went to Guatemala, and suddenly my life began to change. I found God again, and for once in my life I knew what my purpose was and is.
I was so focused on trying to be beautiful, I missed what was right in front of me. I am beautiful because of who I am. I am beautiful because of who I was. I am beautiful because God made me in his image.
It’s March 24, 2014. I haven’t skipped a meal in 6 months.
I’m a recovering Anorexic.
And I am beautiful.