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ED is Not My Friend MAG
So, as I type this, I'm pretty much feeling like one of those celebrities who comes out with the story of their struggles in People magazine. But I'm leaving out all the sugar coating and stereotypes that you tend to find in those magazines. This is the totally true story of my battles, which I rarely discuss. I am sharing it now because it is worth it if a single person can come away with an ounce of inspiration. For anyone out there with an eating disorder, recovery is real and beautiful. You can achieve it.
I started to hate my body in sixth grade. In reality, I wasn't a twig, but I was perfectly healthy, athletic, strong, and beautiful. I started keeping a food diary and swore off junk food entirely. Sounds pretty safe, right? But everything went downhill the following year.
The summer before seventh grade had been a great one, but I had put on some weight. I constantly compared myself to my twiggy best friend, and when my first boyfriend dumped me, I convinced myself that it was because I was fat. That winter, I sunk into a depression. I felt lonely and unmotivated.
I would eat very little all day at school, but I would be unable to resist snacking on healthy food when I got home. It was at these moments that I sometimes resorted to making myself throw up, as I sobbed at how shameful I felt.
I tried all kinds of diet philosophies, hiding them from my mother. For three days I lived solely on fruit and vegetables, lying on the couch because I had no energy. I went an entire month without eating any grains.
I will never forget that day my mom figured out my secret shame of purging. I had never seen her cry before. “You're size two!” she sobbed. I felt terrible. From that day on, I swore off purging, but my dieting tactics only got worse.
My mom dragged me to the doctor only to discover that I had lost a lot of weight. Then I got dragged to a therapist. I refused to speak. I did not want to change, did not want to talk to her, and did not want any help.
I continued to cry and remain mute during therapy sessions. I refused to cooperate when a nutritionist tried to work with me. I switched therapists, but with little change. My weight continued to drop as well as my mental clarity, so it was decided that I'd attend a day program during the summer. However, I'm the kind of person who does not give up easily. And when my mind was set on not gaining weight, there was no way in hell I would let that number on the scale go up. I thought I felt great, the best I had in years. This just shows how screwed up I was. How does feeling dizzy, fainting, and losing hair qualify as great?
Eventually it became evident that I needed more intense treatment. I snuck a peek at my file and was proud that my number on the scale was impressively low. It's sad that I had nothing better to gain pride from. I continued my rebellious pattern for my first homesick month there. Finally – I don't quite know when – I decided to start eating and give life another shot.
I'm not going to lie; the “refeeding” process sucks. I became so self-conscious about my changing body that I wore huge T-shirts and sweatpants and wouldn't look in the mirror. When I tried on my jeans, they weren't even close to fitting. I won't pretend I didn't cry over this for a couple of hours. But I had some awesome fellow patients who helped me through it. I remember the day we all passed around a cookie, taking a bite out of it as a statement to our eating disorders: “You can't control me any longer. I want my life back.”
When I was finally discharged, I still felt pretty crappy about my body, but I tried to stay positive. I had some cute new clothes, and I got to see all my friends, whom I had not seen for a long time. I started to get back into running and did some weight-lifting to gain back the muscle I had lost. I was determined to try my best. And believe it or not, I actually started to have days when I'd feel pretty. I gained some endurance back and started to hate my body a bit less. I was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
This story has a happy ending. Today, I'm a freshman in high school with straight A's. I'm my class vice president, and I just finished the best cross-country season of my life. I've grown stronger as a person from my experiences. My struggles made me who I am today, and my eating disorder does not define me.
Of course, every day isn't perfect. Sometimes I still wish I was thinner, but I've taught myself how to be more realistic. I've learned to love my muscular legs and toned abs. I don't want to look sick anymore; I want to look healthy. I want to really live life and gain back the miserable year I wasted. I haven't weighed myself in almost a year because I've learned that the number on the scale doesn't define who I am.
To anyone reading this who is struggling with an eating disorder, I want you to know that you can conquer it. You are beautiful just the way you are, so let the world know your strengths and abilities. You may not think you are worth much, but you have so much to contribute to this world. I pinky swear that if you really work at recovery and don't give up when life seems too hard, you can be happy. So stop criticizing yourself, step away from the mirror, get off the scale, and pick yourself up. Surround yourself with people you love, find a trustworthy buddy to talk to. Remember that ED is not your friend. Eating disorders do not deserve the dedication we give them.
Go ahead, eat a cookie. I dare you. Have a glass of chocolate milk with it if you really want to piss ED off good. And if he gets mad, tell him to shut up and then blame me.