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Beating Anorexia This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“You can sit there. The ­doctor will be right with you.” The nurse gestured me to the waiting room. Come on, do I really need to be here? I'm not sick enough to be here.

“Jane! The doctor will see you now.”

Great … The office door closed behind me.

Let me explain how I got here. I'm a dancer. I've always had problems with my weight. I was never fat, just chunky. I always felt self-conscious in my leotard. I think that's what triggered it. One day, at the end of freshman year, I told myself I was going to stop eating and get skinny. So that night I skipped dinner. And that's how it started. I would skip meals or throw them away. I drank a lot of water and ran on the track at school during lunch.

It felt so good to see the pounds melt away from my body. I was invincible. But in reality, I was ignoring the symptoms I was feeling. I was light-headed, dizzy, cold, and tired. By now it was May, and I was always absolutely freezing in school. I wore two sweatshirts and was still chilled. But I was losing weight and that was all that mattered to me. People were noticing too. All of my friends told me how great I looked. It was such positive ­reinforcement. Only they didn't know that I wasn't just exercising – I was starving myself.

My parents started noticing when I was at the point of no return – the point where I couldn't go back to regular eating. They said I was getting too skinny and needed to stop. They took away my gym membership, like that would make me stop. In fact, I started eating even less because I couldn't work it off. I was so preoccupied with my weight and calories that I avoided my friends. I would never go out to dinner with anyone. The friends I still talked to were annoyed with me ­because all I would talk about was dieting.

School ended, and I went to summer camp. It was perfect. I didn't have my mother monitoring how much I ate, so I did what I wanted. I didn't eat much, and when I did eat, I had salads. No dressing. When the two weeks were up and my mom came to get me, she was shocked at my appearance. I was skin and bones. You could see my back bones through my skin. I was so proud of myself, but this was the last straw for my mom. She made an appointment with a doctor.

At that first appointment, I weighed 104. My mom was shocked and angry with me. I had lost 21 pounds in a month and a half. My doctor went on and on about how my weight was too low for my height – like I cared. I loved to hear that. By this time I was sick. I had anorexia.

I spent the next few weeks doing exactly what I had been doing – not eating and lying about food. Then it was my first day of summer dance classes. I hadn't danced for about two months. The first thing my teacher said was, “Jane, you're looking very thin. Are you eating enough?” It was a serious question, but I smiled and nodded yes. I was so proud of myself. A week into dance class, my teachers asked to talk to my mom and me. They told me I looked very unhealthy and that they didn't want anything to happen to me. This meeting made my mom cry. I hated that. My mom made another doctor's appointment for me.

At the appointment, I weighed 99 pounds. I had lost another five pounds. I tried to hide the smile on my face. But this time, they took my vitals. My temperature and blood pressure were both low. My heart rate was low. My body was starting to shut down. I knew this too. Now I had to have weekly doctor's appointments to make sure I wasn't dying.

I lost more weight. I was 94 pounds, and I had never been happier with myself. My mom set up weekly counseling sessions with the school social worker. The counseling did help. We found out why I was doing this. It ­really had nothing to do with food; I needed control.

What really hit me, though, was when one of my friends said she didn't want to be my friend anymore. That way, she explained, when I die, it won't hurt her as much because it wouldn't be her best friend who had died. That got to me. Then another friend said, “You will die if you keep going.”

Hearing my friends say this changed me. Slowly but surely I started to gain some weight back. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. I hated stepping onto the scale and seeing 100 again, and then 105. All that hard work was being ruined. My favorite feeling used to be my stomach growling. But I had to let it go. I didn't want to lose everything I had.

I started gaining weight and people starting telling me how beautiful I looked. So I became healthy again, and my vital signs improved. This made everyone happy. My mom was happier, my friends, my doctors. I'm still recovering, but now I know I need to stay healthy for everyone who loves me. But most importantly, I need to stay healthy for myself.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 203 comments. Post your own now!

Alice V. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 14, 2009 at 4:54 pm
Oh my gosh, that's horrible! I mean, I'm glad you overcame it, but that's still horrible what skipping a couple of meals and excercising a lot can do to you! I want to lose some weight, and I'm glad you showed me the side effects of "a couple of pounds." Thank you!
Dara R. said...
Nov. 14, 2009 at 10:59 am
i read this and started bawling--but this is also very inspirational too
momothehobo said...
Oct. 23, 2009 at 5:26 pm
Very touching, i dropped two tears when reading the story and two more when reading the comments.
I had been loosing weight for a while. Setting a loss-goal and thenmaking it bigger and biigger as I approached it. But now i think i'll just loose like... ten more pounds and be done with it, instead of the 25 some i'd been planning on.
shywriter said...
Oct. 23, 2009 at 4:40 am
Inspirational and sad at the same time. I know how hard it is to talk about something like this. Unfortunately, I'm the opposite. Instead of anorexia, I'm obese. I'm losing weight now and your article has warned me what to do and what not do.
ponzianif said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm
Wow, it takes a lot of courage to write about your experience. It was very descriptive but was still inspirational. The turning point for me was the sentence, "My body was starting to shut down." That sentence shows just how far girls are willing to go to look "skinny" and "pretty" when they are really just turning into a skeleton with skin. I am fascinated with these narratives because it brings the dangers of anorexia to light. The most rewarding item, howeve... (more »)
writer24/7/365 said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 7:53 pm
It's great that you can tell your story. That takes courage.
Lyllith said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 6:59 pm
I really admire how you were able to tell your story. This helped me realize that I needed to tell my story. Thank you.
Wilsonm said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm
First, I liked this story alot. It was extremely sad and insperational at the same time. It was so sad when you said "When I die it won't hurt her as much because it wouldn't be her best friend that died." Also when you said "...most importantly, I need to stay healthy for myself." it was very insperational. Well I hope you stay healthy and keep writing.
vivaladolce said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm
Great story! Loved how open you were. Keep on writing! And stay healthy!
poemgirl55 said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 6:14 am
That was really great!
And sad...
Loved it.
Kitten111 said...
Oct. 1, 2009 at 2:45 am
WOW this almost make me cry ... i almost lost a friend to anorexia in year seven and last year my other best friend told me shed been anorexic the year before we met and that she really regreted it ... i feel wary about my weight sometimes but it every time i read a story like this it makes me realise how stupid it would be to stop eating ...and ive come close to trying .... Im so glad your getting better :) all the best
Rachel P. said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 2:26 am
I know how hard it is to fight anorexia because I have it too and have been hospitalized so many times for it already but i am proud of you for working so hard towards getting better. Never ever give up!
Rachel P. said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 2:26 am
I know how hard it is to fight anorexia because I have it too and have been hospitalized so many times for it already but i am proud of you for working so hard towards getting better. Never ever give up!
Kirsten said...
Mar. 23, 2009 at 8:53 pm
Hi Jackie, I know exactly how you felt, because I have gone through exactly the same hard time! I`m so glad and also lucky that I bet this terrible illness! If my parents hadn't been there for me, who knows if I would still be alive... Stay healthy as I do! :)
musicgirl757 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 4, 2009 at 2:24 am
I'm sorry about that, i have anerxicia too, and it sux. but im glad you got better, this is a real good story. I really like it. keep on staying strong, your not alone
Florleticia M. said...
Feb. 25, 2009 at 9:36 pm
This story got me a thinking and I will never do that.It so scary to die just because you want to be skiny. Anyways I'm so gald you overcomed it.
ElizD8 said...
Feb. 19, 2009 at 1:57 am
its so amazing that you could recover! i had a best friend with anorexia and bulimia, and i tried for 2 years to help her through it, and i know how difficult it is. im also a dancer so i know that feeling. keep working at it, you're obviously strong enough to do this!
ForeverCarly said...
Feb. 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm
Thats amazing that you could overcome something that severe; i dont know if i could have done that. Stay Healthy!
emalcious101 said...
Jan. 26, 2009 at 2:01 am
Great story and well written. Congrats!
cdaven said...
Jan. 25, 2009 at 12:54 am
This was an amazing story I am glad you are getting better. I know it is hard but keep at it you are doing amazing!!!
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