Beating Anorexia | Teen Ink

Beating Anorexia MAG

By Jackie Whitcomb BRONZE, North Hampton, New Hampshire
Jackie Whitcomb BRONZE, North Hampton, New Hampshire
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“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.

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This article has 206 comments.

cheer9 said...
on Feb. 8 2010 at 8:01 pm
Wow this is great. Its amazing that you could admit something like that. Im 13 and i dont have a eating disorder but i will admit that i dont take care of myself(in eating habits) at all. I have Celiac Desiease and so I pretty much cant eat anything so i pretty much live off of french fries once a day and thats about it. My parents tell me all the time i need to take care of myself better or something drastic could happen but theres really nothing i can do about it. But i love this article, i think its really good and should help alot of people with this problem.

on Jan. 31 2010 at 4:59 pm
B.R.Nack SILVER, Grand Junction, Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
“...Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
--Stephen King

wow that was a really good story, im glad it had a happy ending^^

marine6704 said...
on Jan. 28 2010 at 7:15 am
this takes courage admitting a problem you have. If all victims could admit it like you did maybe it would become less common

kimmot said...
on Jan. 26 2010 at 5:34 pm
Thank you for your courage to write your story. I am a mom of a 29-year-old who struggled with anorexia since the age of 12. She hid it so well that we did not know why she was so thin until she went into rehab at the age of 24. We thought she had a problem with alcohol or drugs. I even wrote a book for 10-12 year olds called Thin Club about a young girl who goes on a diet because her friends thought she looked fat in a new dress. Like Thin Club, my daughter's story has a happy ending. She is now married and has a baby boy. She doesn't struggle every day with eating, but she still thinks about it.

Thank you

sararox said...
on Jan. 26 2010 at 2:56 pm
I would die if my freinds ever did that it is so bad

PBMars said...
on Jan. 25 2010 at 10:18 pm
I know what it likes to be slightly overweight, as I was for most of my life. Then, this year I joined swimming, I lost tons of weight, but then found a healthy place right in the middle. The point is, just join a sport. It'll take a while, but eventually you will burn fat, and you can still eat as much as you want!

maggs1123579 said...
on Jan. 25 2010 at 7:06 pm
thanx for telling ur story. im 13 and i am honestly overweight. i've been meaning to lose weight but i dont want to go anorexic. im glad ur getting better. Wish me luck in burning something off! thanx.

1bieberluver said...
on Jan. 25 2010 at 4:39 pm
I weigh 140 pounds. People say i look great. Fabulous. Just Fine. Even Perfect. Sure, i keep up with the skinny girls. I can run just as fast as they do, if not faster. Sure, i'm just as good as sports as they are, if not better. My average is 94.7, yet, i know i'm fat. People joke around saying i'm big, she's the big girl. My parents describe me as the "big" girl. But no one knows how much it hurts. When people say how "perfect" i am, i never listen. Because i know those are the same people that say i'm "big", i "fat", i'm "huge". I'll be honest, i tried limiting my eating. But i can't do it. I don't know what to do. I wish i could be like the girl in the article.

happy123 said...
on Jan. 25 2010 at 4:28 pm
Please girls... be happy with your bodies!!! Believe mom AND my stepmother were both models. I understand how it feels to be out of place... but happiness is not all about how skinny you are. Focus on something important! Find your own interests and stay away from negative people in your life who make you feel worthless.

emtika800 said...
on Jan. 25 2010 at 4:00 pm
This is a beautiful aritcle! It's really important to know if you stop eating it is VERY un healthy. I feel that im over weight for my age {13} but my Doctors say that I am an OK weight for my height {5'5 1/2} and my age, So im cool with that. My friends have commented saying that i look skinny which is a lovely complament but you shouldn't think "Maybe if im a bit thinner I'd impress more people". Its OK to loose a little weight but not so much that its un-healthy. You should still eat properly and at the same meal times just watch yoru proportians size and how much sweets/junk food you eat. For example limit your "sweet treats" to 1 "Sweet Thing" a day, like 1 Cookies, or 1 Bowl of ice cream. Try taking a walk every day or playing a Dance game on your computer or on a gaming system to get some excersize. It works for me!


DeadlyRose said...
on Jan. 25 2010 at 3:38 pm
This article is simply beautiful. It's great writing. I'm not anorexic, but I'm thin for my age. I'm almost 13, and I am a little more than 70 lbs. Last year around July I was probably around 60. It's funny, I eat like a pig, but I never gain any weight. I think it's because I have a high metabolism, but oh well. I'm not as strong as the other girls in my school, and I'm defnitely not a jock, but I like being as thin as I am. I did Wii fit and it said my weight was healthy, but I was sort of on the verge of being underweight. I don't care. I feel perfect as I am. Jackie, I understand you wanted to not be as chunky as the other dancers were, but I would've stopped when my friends said I was beautiful. My personal opinion, nothing more. But I understand your story and I think it's great writing. Good job with the article and good luck on your recovery!

on Jan. 19 2010 at 6:03 pm
mayzielabird BRONZE, Park City, Utah
3 articles 3 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If MUSIC be the food of LOVE; play on!" --Shakspeare

this story was beautiful, you should really read the book Wintergirls, it's a lot like your story, KEEP WRITING!

on Jan. 19 2010 at 5:08 pm
Caramel_Apple SILVER, Yardley, Pennsylvania
6 articles 0 photos 31 comments
I also read that book. It was about a girl who lost weight and starved herself. She noted every calorie in every food she ate. She would weigh her robe down when it was time for her weekly (monitored) weigh-in. So sad, but I'm glad you're recovering.

brianj BRONZE said...
on Jan. 19 2010 at 3:06 pm
brianj BRONZE, Jeannette, Pennsylvania
3 articles 10 photos 54 comments

Favorite Quote:
"the real trouble with reality is that there's no background music"
"i don't suffer from insanity. i enjoy every minute of it."
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” -Marianne Williamson. Trying so hard to believe this but SO not succeeding…..

i, too, was anorexic about three years ago. i was so underconfident with my appearance even though i was average weight and i just hated seeing the girl in the mirror, like, "why am i such an ugly, fat cow?" so i stopped eating. and i worked out, everyday. and i started losing weight. and i was so, so happy, i thought i was beautiful. but then the truth hit me. i was TOO skinny, i was nothing but bones. and when i went for my yearly checkup and fainted, i knew things had to change. so now i'm the opposite. i try to gain weight. and, damn, is it hard. it's been about three years since then and i'm not anorexic anymore. still skinny, but not bones. it was like turning around and tossing away everything. i still feel like something's wrong with me: but that i'm too SKINNY. i don't want to be too too well, big, but just healthyish. you know. like no skinny ass elbows or anything. most people think anorexic people are psychotic loons who don't have anything else to do. but it's not. it's confidence, pride. and you don't don't know how stupid it feels once you've gotten over it. so don't take people for granted or you'll answer to me and my lazy, lower case comments. :)

IceySpice said...
on Jan. 12 2010 at 8:49 pm
IceySpice, Irving, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Just because everybody's doing it, doesn't make it right."

Same here!I read that too and I loved it.This article brings back a lot of memories.People think anorxics aren't "grateful" for food,but it has nothing to do with that.For me,it was mostly about deserving it and feeling betterabout myself.Excellent post,thanks for sharing!

on Jan. 9 2010 at 11:50 am
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz BRONZE, Riverside, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."

This reminded me of the book Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Congrats on overcoming it and being able to write about it. That takes lots of courage.

orange BRONZE said...
on Dec. 28 2009 at 10:46 pm
orange BRONZE, Bangkok, Other
1 article 1 photo 2 comments
It's hard changing back isn't?
i know the feeling, I'm fourteen and i was on the verge of anorexia. For me, it started because i hated looking at myself in the mirror. I would touch my belly and think to myself "What the hell is this? It has to go!" I lost 5 kilos in 3 weeks.
I stopped because of my mom. She has always looked out for me in so many ways. One day, she locked me up in a room and told me that if i didn't stop losing weight, she would send me to the psych hospital. That hit me sort of hard, my own mother thought i was a psycho. My friends gave my looks of concern all the time, like at any moment i could fall apart. Then when day, i was playing soccer and the ball hit my pinky. It broke, it was so weak that the calcium in it was not enough to suppot itself. My body was eating itself out. After that i was like waking up from a bad dream.
Reality says if i still do this, ill die. Now i accept reality.

EmelyJ GOLD said...
on Dec. 28 2009 at 8:29 pm
EmelyJ GOLD, Bronx, New York
10 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A mistake is not a mistake if you learn from it. If you learn from it, it's not a mistake, it's a lesson."

I know what you mean. I'm only 13 years old and I was anorexic. I ate so little every day that I began to have trouble breathing and had frequent headaches. It wasn't until I passed out one day that I realized that I was killing myself. I'm still battling this today, and so far I'm winning. I guess you and me are contenders, huh? Just remember that you and me are one of a kind; we don't need to look as thin as those models we see in magazines. And remember that pain never lasts forever. Good luck, my friend.

on Dec. 28 2009 at 12:14 pm
This had me on the verge of tears as I read through it. You have a very strong voice and knowing you got through anorexia, I'm sure you have a strong personality too. I really hope you continue with your recovery. Beauty is what's on the inside, and from your wonderful writing, it seems you are gorgeous.

on Dec. 28 2009 at 12:55 am
BritneyG. BRONZE, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
1 article 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
“My life is like a coloring book with a page in the back you can lick and it tastes like Kool-Aid.”
~My Dad :)

It takes a lot of courage to really express yourself in a paper such as this one. I can tell you are a strong person. This may not make sense but you are. I enjoyed reading your paper, continue on the road to recovery.