Enter a World

March 1, 2012
By Audrey Brezak BRONZE, Woodinville, Washington
Audrey Brezak BRONZE, Woodinville, Washington
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Enter a world. Enter a world where you’re never good enough—skinny enough, smart enough, pretty enough. Enter my world for the past couple years. Yes, everybody has their inner critic. But mine was an omnipresent demon consistently pointing out my faults and deceiving others. This demon took over my existence for almost six months after a devastating hip injury.
Enter junior year. A time I expected to be nearing my peak; best friends, college recruiting offers for both soccer and lacrosse, and a new summer job in which I had made pocket money for the year. Life was simple; naïve. But of course, life changes—throws us curveballs. In my case, I tripped over that curveball. Specifically, a soccer ball. This resulted in a hip injury that required surgery.
Naturally I was devastated, but I was assured I’d be healthy by winter lacrosse season. Unfortunately, the surgery was more extensive than the doctors predicted. My pre-surgery motivated self soon transformed into a miserable invalid. Bed ridden and in constant agonizing pain, even walking seemed a far off dream. I became withdrawn and depressed when I realized this would be my reality from now on. I couldn’t cope.
Then, what I believed to be an angel swooped down to save me from my pain. Meet Ed. Determined, perfectionistic, a people pleaser—all the qualities I possessed but taken to an unhealthy extreme. I leaned on Ed after surgery—in returning to school, beginning to walk, and dealing with friends. Ed had an answer for everything. Get a B on the math test? Skip lunch. Friend drama? Who needs dinner? Not where I wanted to be in physical therapy? Begin alternate exercise routine consisting of hundreds of crunches.
In the months following surgery, PT was a constant disappointment. Everything I ever used to care about began not to matter. So what, I couldn't be that soccer player on the world team—defending Marta, only I could stop her and Brazils reign. Instead, I could be thin. I had complete control over that, No bad luck or some rotten curveball could trip me on this one. It was only me and Ed. Ed convinced me that I was good enough if I was x lbs. I defined my success by numbers—every pound lost only motivated me to decrease my goal weight.
Of course, my family, friends, and doctors soon became worried by my rapid weight loss and I was sent away to an eating disorders doctor in January. I was given three weeks to simply maintain my weight or else be admitted. My follow up appointment in February, Audrey had vanished. In her place was a barely functioning twelve pound lighter anorexic. The diagnosis had been made. I started treatment on an outpatient basis. No improvement. I started a more intensive outpatient program. No improvement. My doctors were frustrated but Ed and I were overridden with glee—we had beaten the system! But this cycle couldn’t go on forever; my vitals and weight were dangerously low. After five months of intensive outpatient therapy and no improvement, it was time for more help.
Enter inpatient treatment. Enter a world where desserts are greeted with groans. Told what to do, what to eat—even freedom of speech was restricted. There, for ten hours a day we were monitored, analyzed and "shrunk." I hated it. Not only did I hate my freedom being taken away, but I was losing my savior, Ed. Gradually, I became accustomed to the idea of improvement. Gaining weight was scary, as it meant letting go of the coping mechanism I had grabbed ahold of to deal with my depression. Through banishing Ed, I could focus on what I wanted with my life; spending hours on the phone with the insurance company is no way to live for anyone. My priorities changed to value friendship, honesty, sensitivity, passion, enrichment, and work ethic.
Once back in outpatient, I learnt to balance recovery living in an image obsessed society. Not an easy task. One way I began to build a filter was through volunteering at a camp for disabled children; a group of people, like eating disorder victims, our society judges unfairly. In July, I packed my bags and snacks and headed off for the most demanding week of my life. That week, I had a chance to focus on others who needed my help. I remained hyper caffeinated so I might hear a nonverbal tap on the bed to signal she needed to be taken to the bathroom, or ate alone so I could focus on feeding a child without arms, or although I was freezing, took the kids swimming for hours because they rarely had a chance to go. Camp cemented my recovery by giving me appreciation for my body. Finally, I began living and embracing my healthy self. I began to participate in sports again- not at the level I used to, but what I used to love is once again integrated into my life. My curveball totally reshaped my life in a way I could have never predicted, but I have come out a strong person with renewed morals and beliefs of compassion, respect, and empathy for others.

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