A loss of appetite especially when prolonged. Reading this definition caused a shooting pain to erupt in my stomach. How can something so significant be defined so simply?
Approximately 15% of teenagers across the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Being part of that percentage was something I had never envisioned happening to me. I have always been a perfectionist. Without fail, I strive for the best academically, athletically, and artistically. That is purely who I am. When coming to the point in understanding that perfection cannot be reached, feelings of apprehension and anxiety emerged within me. The panic I was undergoing revamped itself into sleep deprivation and a sudden halt in my food intake.
“The pressure you put on yourself is giving you anorexia.” In that moment, all the images of the unhealthily thin and lanky girls rushed through my mind like restless waters during a high tide. I immediately rejected the idea of sharing a trait in common with them, and this diagnosis was imperceivable to me. However, I was slightly relieved that my form of the disorder was only stress-induced. In order to be rid of it, I had to find and obliterate the origin of the stress within me.
“If you change your outlook on this, you will have the power to tame all the pain from it.”
I wish I had listened to my father’s words when he had voiced them to me. But I was more preoccupied with how dreadful my situation was. The physical distress was indescribably painful, yet I felt that the mental suffering was far worse. My stomach and my brain were filled with emptiness.
Every day, my father would say something positive as an attempt to even slightly change my disposition. No one in my family could remember the last time I smiled. They longed for the jovial person I once was. And I longed for her too.
On one of my absolute worst days, my father reminded me of the fact of how I used to run when I was tense. I reminisced on how stress-relieving running was for me, and my mindset was so lifeless that I figured anything was worth trying. I complied to his suggestion, but little did I know that it would have such a vast impact on my life.
Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. This was the recurring maxim that I repeated in my head when I used to run. This time was different, though. I utilized all my angry, fearful, and sad feelings in my head and somehow transformed them into power, strength, and stamina in my legs. I was normally accustomed to running one or two miles, yet that day I kept going and going until I reached five. All that anger, fear, and sadness were replaced with positive feelings, and it was astonishing. That night, I ate better than I ever had before, and I felt happier and stronger. I had come to the conclusion that even in times of distress, dismay, and dread, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
My stress-induced anorexia surely did not just vanish after that event, and I still face it today. But I now believe that in order to overcome any obstacle in life, all the negative thoughts have to be conquered within the mind first. Evidently, it cannot be exterminated in an instant, but it most certainly is possible. From this experience, my beliefs on the world have been completely reconstructed. My definition of anorexia is solely this: a loss of appetite that is a severe physical, mental, and emotional hardship, but has sculpted the way I view the world today.