The Worst of Both Worlds

July 13, 2008
By Shannon McCann, Atlantic Beach, FL

Whenever I would see a movie or TV show where someone a young as I am now would be struggling with some of the toughest issues out there, I would wonder if that's even possible; if it could ever happen to me or any of my peers. Then i went to middle school and learned I was wrong. I go to a private school with a lot of rich and beautiful girls, who are generally better looking than me, in my opinion. I have always been unhappy with my body. I have always felt that there were plenty of other girls who were so much thinner and fit than I was. I never thought I would take these thoughts as far as I have. It all started in the fall of my eighth grade year. I would stare at myself in the mirror for hours, thinking of how great it would be if I had a flat stomach, smaller thighs and thinner hips. So after exercise and healthy eating wasn't working, I slowly started cutting back on my eating. I made excuses for not eating at meals, and ate very small portions when I couldn't make a reasonable excuse up. What seemed like an innocent cut-back at one point, quickly became routine. I never let anyone know, but I was beginning to become obsessed. I would plan when I could successfully binge and purge, without anyone noticing. This worked for a long time, until one day at school during lunch. Every day at this time, I would casually walk to the bathroom, and do what I felt I needed to do. This particular day, wasn't going as planned. I had a friend who had struggled with bulimia for a few years, and I never thought to confide in her until this day. When I thought I was the only one in the bathroom, I ran for the stall like I had so many times before. As I was about to stick my fist in my mouth, someone started banging on the door. I opened the door, and this girl was standing looking at me with tears in her eyes. I was so embarrassed that I didn't know what to say; but I didn't need to say anything. She immediately began to tell her story to me, which made me so ashamed for what I had done. I had kept all of this pain inside of me for so long, and I finally had the opportunity to let it all go. After this day, she and I became close, like we had something in common that no one else needed to be a part of. I slowly started to eat normally again, but something was still not right. I was diagnosed with depression three weeks later. This stunned me. I never thought I would be the kind of girl who had to deal with something that big. I had no idea what to do about it, so I tried to just let it go. For five months, I came home at night and went straight to sleep, or lie awake all night thinking about how upset I was. It changed my life in so many ways. I lost my appetite, didn't want anything to do with my friends or family, and strayed from the activities that I once got pleasure from. One night, I started to seriously think, and plan, suicide. I stopped myself the first time, but a week later I had a knife in my hand cutting myself all up my arm. It felt good to release my pain in a physical way. Still, I knew that this was wrong. The next morning I went to talk to the school counselor, and ended up having an intervention with my mother. I never wanted to let her in to what I was really feeling because I knew of all the pain it would cause her. We quickly got help from a few doctors, and eventually found a wonderful therapist who I am still successfully seeing. This whole experience started and ended with my body image. All I cared about was how people looked at me, and what I saw when I looked in the mirror. This all doesn't matter. Believe me. IT WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE. I will never be the same person again, because when I look back on myself during those rough times, I was a sick person. I wasn't even thinking right. I guess I could say I got The Worst of Both Worlds, which has made me appreciate the world I'm living in now.

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