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You might see a skeleton thin girl walking down the sidewalk and make an assumption about her in less than a minute. You might think that to her, that bony body is some source of pride. Maybe for some girls that is true, but not for me. See, I am one of those stick thin girls…or I used to be. I get those judgmental looks. Frankly, I don’t blame anyone who thinks negative thoughts about me, or the way I look. Heck, I used to be one of those critical people. But I have been to the dark side, and know what kind of hell it is to go through. Now, I just feel thankful and blessed to be alive.

I used to despise my body. Not because it was fat, (even though a part of my brain thought it was) but because it was too skinny. I knew that. There was also a part of my brain telling me not to eat, that I didn’t deserve food. What did I ever do to make myself think I didn’t deserve to eat? Well, I don’t know, and I might never know. I have inklings of why I tried to starve myself to death, but nothing concrete that I can think of, point a finger at and say “yes! This is why!”

The concept of anorexia is confusing. Even now, after I went through this all-consuming disease, I don’t know why my brain started thinking the way it did. See how I blame ‘my brain’ and not ‘myself’? I must still be in some denial. Basically, what happened is this: either I got depressed and didn’t feel like eating much, or I stopped eating much and became depressed. Some things I know for sure, and have figured out by pondering lots of things, doing lots of journaling, and having lots of counseling. Here are some of the things I know: I got my period at the age of thirteen. My mom never told me much more than the basics, or maybe not even those. I didn’t really know what to expect. So, when I was in so much pain, and having such a heavy blood flow that I could hardly even stand up, I knew something had to change. As lots of teenage girls do, I read magazines like Seventeen and Girls Life. In these magazines, girls send in questions to the editors that they have about anything and everything. The advice given is intended to be helpful, but maybe it isn’t so much in some cases. One of those magazines may have been where I go the notion that, like many female athletes, I too could exercise so excessively that my menstruation would stop. At the time, it felt like the only logical thing I could do to stop this pain and humiliation.
My mom had purchased a treadmill recently, and I thought running and walking on it would be a good place to start. Every day I would get on that machine and walk a few laps around it’s virtual track. Soon, I was pushing myself a step further, and I would not end my exercise session until the calorie counter that was conveniently included on the treadmill told me I had burned 230 calories. In addition to exercising a lot, I stopped eating as much. I realized I wasn’t really that hungry anyway, and maybe I was eating too much. Cutting back a little couldn’t hurt. A little exercise and some cutting calories here and there turned into a lot. At this point, I don’t think I was in tune with my body at all (or maybe I never was) and I couldn’t feel the hunger pangs that should’ve surely been there. I couldn’t feel my stomach constricting into a little ball, trying to find nourishment in something other than its own lining. Not eating much and working out a lot quickly brought the results I wanted to see - no more painful time of the month. But, along with my period, it also brought the loss of more than twenty pounds in about two months. For a girl of, at the most, 95 pounds I couldn’t afford to lose two pounds. Let alone twenty.

I was blind to how thin I was. All I was concerned with was what I was (or wasn’t) eating, and how much I was exercising. I had to keep my period from coming back! It was late autumn around the time all of this started, so I was wearing warm clothes, but even then I found myself layering sweaters on. Or sitting down with a book and just shivering so hard, even though I had my duvet wrapped tightly around me. I was constantly checking the thermostat, and asking if anyone else was cold, or was it just me? I could not get warm, no matter how I tried.

Finally, in the summer of 2008, my mom took me swimsuit shopping, When I tried a suit on, and showed her that I thought it would work ok, she saw how painfully thin I was. She asked me about it later, and after I admitted to he that I kept a food and exercise journal (I was 13 ½!) she must have realized this was more than her oldest daughter just “not being hungry”. She talked to a nurse we knew, who recommended we find someone or someplace to help that specialized in eating disorders. After much searching and praying, I ended up going to see a team consisting of a nurse, a nutritionist, and a psychologist at St. Luke’s hospital. I was put on medication, which seemed to help me cope fairly well with the amount of food I was expected to consume. I was down to 62 pounds by now so I was ready to admit I was starving for food anyway. I only needed the permission to eat to be okay with it.

Four years, four doctors, two medications, thousands of prayers, many tears, and one hospital stay later, here I am. And now, I know I will fight for my life, whatever it takes. There might still be a trace of that terrified little girl inside of me, but she will no longer rule over me. In my hardest, darkest days, I gave up on God. But he never gave up on His child.




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