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Squeezing the Sponge: My Continuous Battle with Anorexia and Depression
It’s not as easy as it seems. To escape depression. You can’t just smile and expect the sadness to dissipate. You don’t just wake up one day without the gloomy thoughts haunting your mind. The world isn’t that optimistic. If it were, wouldn’t it be one hell of a better place to live?
The cause of depression is usually vague, but I can pinpoint the day it began for me… or I suppose how it began: November 6th 2007. The day I began to starve.
Anorexia ruled my sophomore year of high school. I lost control of my own mind and body. I obsessively measured every milliliter of the nonfat milk with measuring cups, and soaked my meager bowl of cereal in water to sap all the excessive sugar. I nibbled on a Quaker’s 90-calorie, low fat granola bar to sustain me for the whole day. I usually skipped dinner, making lame but convincing excuses that I suffered from PMS cramps (even though I had amenorrhea), or had eaten a heavy lunch at school.
I developed bizarre eating habits; I cut every food -- apples, bagels, and even baby carrots -- into minute cubes and pieces. I became stricter about analyzing the contents of the nutritional facts (avoid anything with more than 150 calories or 3 grams of fat) than reading a daily passage of the Bible (Jesus did what?).
Within a few weeks, I began to change. Physically and emotionally.
My weight plummeted to a dangerously gaunt 103-lb, a 30 pound drop from my then healthy and muscular 135-lb physique. My face turned hollow, my ribs protruded, my backs bony.
I started avoiding people, both friends and family. I confined myself to the corner of my room, compulsively studying the SAT in the hope of distracting my mind from hunger. I read cookbooks to sleep, trying to appease my screaming stomach. I purposely shunned parties for the fear of overeating finger foods or cookies, which added up in calories faster than the rate of global warming.
As much as I wanted to eat freely, I knew I couldn’t. I’ve already become a slave to the digital number on the scale.
Often, anorexia and other eating disorders are extenuating consequences of depression. For me, it was the other way around.
Deprived of energy, listless and exhausted day and night, I lost interest in things I used to love: running, interacting with others, and socializing. Depression soaked up all my vitality like a piece of dry sponge.
I sincerely hated my family, my friends, my life. I even developed a morbid thought of suicide. How relieving would it be just to jump off the balcony and let all my agony disappear?
The most painful part about my experience was that I had no one to talk to; but it was my fault. I voluntarily refused to seek counsel, I eagerly denied all accusation, and I adamantly avoided my parents’ reaching hands. To me, their concern just sounded like nagging annoyances.
I shunned myself completely from the society. I became a recluse, a hermit, the modern day Emily Dickinson. Whatever you want to call it.
Presently, as I inscribe this word, I am still a depressed anorexic. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not easy to escape depression. I still don’t talk half, I mean, one tenth, as much as I used to. I still cut my whole wheat bagel into eight sectional pieces and eat it raw without cream cheese or other “extra calorie” embellishments.
But the difference from nine months ago is that I am trying. Trying to recover.
Last Saturday, I completed a 15-mile bike ride around the perimeter of Davis. Afterwards, I enjoyed a glass of enriching, homemade fruit smoothie and a heaping bowl of marinara pasta. I even awarded myself with a piece of banana crÃ¨me pie from Baker’s square (though I skipped the crust).
Next week, I’m thinking about biking to Dixon. Then I’ll indulge on one entire chocolate chip bagel smothered with rich, full-fat cream cheese.
I am ready to squeeze that sponge and unleash my happiness.