Biting Off My Life

December 12, 2017
By Anonymous

There was once a blissful, euphoric girl who enjoyed eating. That girl loved to try exotic food that she had never heard of, and she longed to visit every high-rated restaurant in the world. Her parents cooked day after day, and she would help them cook too. Nothing made this foodie more rapturous than seeing what kind of succulent concoction her hard work had led to. However, as the girl went about her lengthy days in middle school, she started to notice that everyone was changing in some way; including herself. It was their bodies. As her body acclimated itself to change, so did her mind too. Was she really supposed to gain weight? The girl, who thought she was skinny, was eventually sucked into a dark abyss that made her believe that she was fat. Slowly, but steadily; the abyss began to bite off pieces of her life just like she would bite into a juicy, refreshing apple. Left with nothing to cling on to, her life fell down at the wayside.

In November of 2017, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a mental-health disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and what they eat. A person who has anorexia typically restricts their daily food intake, consuming an inadequate amount of calories. They also exercise compulsively, to compensate for eating and to lose weight. When I found out that I was suffering from anorexia, I was devastated. It felt as if I fell into a monstrous trap and could not escape. Because I would be required to spend 32 hours at the hospital each week, I was not permitted to go to school, engage in any form of exercise, or even cook. I felt heartbroken and furious, like someone had snatched my life away from me. My parents tried to remind me that this was not punishment, and that this was treatment, but I felt like a bird locked inside of a cage. However, I knew that my desolate, malnourished soul was screeching for help. Without treatment, I might have become seriously ill or died.

When I started treatment, it was not easy. The first thing I had to do was be weighed, which absolutely terrifies me. I stepped on the scale, and I had never seen such a low number for being 13 years old. The scale read 86.0 pounds. In my head, a disparaging creature (the eating disorder) was praising that number gleefully. Instantly, my mood skyrocketed, making me ecstatic. Nevertheless, the old her would be anxious if she saw 86.0 pounds since it would mean that she was sickly underweight, but the new her felt like maintaining a low weight was a crucial part of her life. Then, all of the patients ate meals together with a counselor. In order to be finished with my meal, I was required to eat everything that my parents had packed me, even if I was unwilling to eat. “Just one more bite,” they would prompt. Inside, I was screaming, “No! No! You can’t force me to eat!” These words floated like balloons in my head throughout every meal of the day. In spite of the continuous weight loss and refusal to eat, I still exercised and restricted once I got home from the hospital. The first two weeks were difficult, but I steered myself in a positive direction in the middle of the third week. I gained weight, yet, I reacted to it positively. I thought of the weight gain as a giant step towards recovery, rather than perceiving it to be a feared enemy. During my meals, I noticed that I was eating quicker and finishing in a reasonable amount of time. Finally, I was doing something right and not letting my eating disorder win!

Now, I am currently in my fourth week of treatment. I have been finishing my meals on time and developing a love for food again. I struggle sometimes, but by using effective skills such as reading and writing in a gratitude journal, I am able to lower my anxiety. Even though I was diagnosed with anorexia, my anorexia will not define who I am. Nor will the number on the scale. I am working to understand why weight restoration is important and why I need to nourish my body with the proper amount of food in order to do activities I appreciate, like figure skating and running. Slowly, but steadily; I am putting the pieces of my life back together again. Recovering from an eating disorder is not as easy as pie, but it will happen. If I want to recover, I must be determined, tenacious, and compliant. I am a dynamic person, so I will not allow my eating disorder to bite off my life.

The author's comments:

My memoir, Biting Off My Life, is about my battle with anorexia nervosa. The theme of this essay is that no matter how difficult a situation may be, I will never give up. Throughout my journey to recovery, I am experiencing troubles and doubts, but I remind myself that I am stronger than my eating disorder.

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