My Anorexic Friend
Then a few years later my family moved, in the middle of sixth grade. I went directly from an elementary sixth grade setting to a middle school style setting. I felt like an outsider, it was the middle of year and I was stressed out, I thought eating less would help me feel better about myself. So that's where it began, I was in a new situation, alone, and scared, hating the way I looked and even dressed.
I ate less and less, but not too little, just enough to shed a few fat pounds. I was confident once I liked the way I looked everything else in my life would fall into place too. All the girls at my school were skinnier than I was and I thought if I could be like them I'd be popular and more loved by my friends and family too. They seemed to have everything perfect, those skinny sixth graders. It wasn't fair, why did I have to be the one with a complicated, fat life.
The start of seventh grade was where the trouble really began. I had been in martial arts for the last couple years and the one I was currently in was tough, tougher than any sport there is out there it was like street fighting.
I wanted to be the best, be fastest and strongest, so I came up with the idea to loose just a little more weight than earlier in the sixth grade, less weight means better fitness, at least that's what I made myself believe. Added onto not liking the way I looked, the chunky compliments, and now street fighting, I saw a path ahead of me that did not seem good, but I had no choice.
Popularity, athletic ability, being in control, all revolved around being skinny. I felt like I needed to loose weight and fast. I wanted a good life, and a life in my control.
We were always so busy since we moved in my sixth grade year to a new town. All the stores were at least fifteen minutes away and I felt like I never got to see my parents with all the school work, street fighting, and chores. I was in the car a minimum of two hours a day, riding too and from school. The roads seemed to feel like my real home, always busy, always going somewhere. There was so much stress and no time to relax or play.
One night I just prayed to God that I could be skinny, so that I could be perfect. The next day I felt like God had answered my prayers. I started to watch Touched By an Angel twice a day to embed it's principles in my mind. I figured if I got my spiritual life perfect first, then God would provide me with everything else I wanted to happen.
I tried to do all the chores around the house, be nice and kind, read my bible and devotions at least fifteen minutes every day. I was trying to be like a nun or something, looking back on it I see that what I did wasn't senseless, just desperate. If I was a good Christian I would get to heaven, and that is my goal as a Christian in life. To be like a perfect little angel to my Master in heaven. My first steps to being perfect were becoming complete, except for one problem. My only sinning habit that I could not give up was lying to my parents about eating. That crushed me, but I had hope that one day I wouldn't have to lie to them anymore, but until then, I had to keep being a sinner.
At school I would never ate. I would have a wee bit of breakfast since I read that was the most important meal of the day, but then at lunch I secretly quit eating. I would bring my lunch to school so my parents would think that I was still eating, but then I played with it around my friends. I would try to build the tallest towers or messiest mess I could make with my lunch. I don't think they thought anything about it at first, just that I was being funny. At dinner I would say I just ate too much at school that day but then my dad would make me have a bowl of nuts and ice cream to make up for missing eating.
He knew, I think, all along what I was doing, he just tried to deny to himself, to make himself believe I was going to be ok. When I started loosing too much weight it did not go unnoticed. My dad weighed me in every night, sometimes more than once, and forced me to eat, all the time. It was getting harder and harder to overcome my Eating Disorder, when I was being pushed away by my own dad. Finally one day my dad said he was tired of watching me slowly die and he came into my room one night. He threw a right hook across my jaw and shoved me onto my bed with his hand on my neck ready to choke me, doing anything to get his words through my mind. He yelled one word: "EAT."
In March of that dreaded seventh grade year my dad left, just walked out the door and never came back. I knew my parents were legally divorced but in every one's mind the decision was inevitable. I was happy in a way that I was no longer persecuted because of my Eating Disorder. My abusive dad was gone for good, I was no longer afraid, of him. After awhile I started to miss him and then the realization of my dad's departing hit me, I wasn't good enough for him, so he left my family because of me. All because of me.
I almost never slept anymore, out of grief, sadness, and anxiety. The whole day and night all I thought about was what I needed to eat the next day. I started on some sleeping medications but they didn't work, I was sleep deprived, but I never let it show.
I counted calories constantly
and everything I did started to revolve around food. I wanted to at least
smell, and see the evil stuff I couldn't have. I watched the food network
any spare time I had and I always cooked for other people. I cooked
cookies, muffins, even meals, but I would not touch the stuff, just give it
to other people and think longingly about all I was missing. Calories,
I became depressed and withdrawn. I slipped away from friends, family, and any hope of ever becoming better and having a fun, good life again. I narrowed down to the end of school year by eating nothing. I ate practically nothing for about a month, and how I lived, that was a miracle.
ED was telling me I was fat, not good enough, not the good person I was meant to be, even with all I was juggling and working on. That word, perfect, drove me insane, I couldn't just be good anymore, I had to be perfect. My desire to be perfect probably originated from my OCD. I lost my desire to live, but I didn't want to die because I still wasn't good enough, for me, and I felt, for anyone else or even God. My eating disorder was sawing me down to the bone but I felt I still had to be skinner for everything to be perfect, for many reasons.
My mom had tried to get me into counseling earlier but I hated it, I simply would not go. I knew I had a problem, but I wouldn't let myself get help. I still saw myself as fat in the mirror at 5' 3" and 90 pounds and I still saw my dad's leaving as completely and utterly my fault.
I kept on my path to destruction and pulled on every stunt you can think of to avoid eating. I exercised more. I would hide food anywhere I could at the moment, then throw it in the dumpster in our garage when I had the chance.
I smeared food all around my plate to make it look like I had eaten more. Mostly, it worked, and if I didn't, I said what first always came to mind, "I'm not hungry", which in truth was partially true, sometimes.
Looking back, what was the worst part, was my endless exercise routines. I would exercise everywhere I could, at school, in the shower, and at night in my bed. Every little bit I ate I thought I had to burn it off, so I did, by hundreds of jumping jacks and endless miles of running nonstop on our treadmill.
In a rush to save my life my mom sent me to a eating disorder center in Wickenburg, Arizona, called Remuda Ranch. At this time I had just turned thirteen and fought to go. The last few days before I begun my two month recovery plan at Remuda Ranch, I just stopped eating anything. I knew I would have to gain weight, so why not loose more and feel better before I have to get fat again?
I had all the symptoms of an eating disorder: low blood pressure, off beat and slow heartbeat, always cold, got dizzy all the time, and had absolutely no energy. My body was literally eating away at itself, day by day. All the muscle I thought I was building, by exercising, was in truth diminished by my lack of eating.
Sometimes there were thoughts that popped into my mind, such as, "Why are you doing this, T?" "What's so great about being skinny?" and "How are you really helping yourself?" I knew that I could not give myself honest answers to these questions. My mind wasn't right, I was stuck in the life of a true anorexic.
The day I entered the Ranch I came in at 5' 3" and 76 pounds, I realized that unless I cooperated with the program I would die. I would no longer be able to serve my Savior, or anyone else. No chance of being anything near perfect, if I was dead. That got me bad, that's part of what shifted in my heart. My eating disorder was taking away that chance of me being perfect, and that's really what I had wanted all along, since the beginning of my struggles. If I ate just enough to save my life, maybe I could be the perfect person.
The recovery time at Remuda was rough, but a great program, not because of the program, but because of the struggle to keep with the program.
I learned, and found, nothing there that I didn't already truly know, except myself again. I made many friends and became the old me, a prankster, and sometimes a nuisance to the nurses and MHT's there. I got in trouble tons of times, but realized by the friendship of my fellow ED friends that I was fine just the way I was. Being skinny wouldn't do anything for me in the long run but make me miserable.
Because I terribly loved to eat and hated being down in the dumps with depression and anxiety over something as simple as food. I handed over my trust to the staff and to God most of all. I finally totally devoted myself to recovery after getting on a dose of Seroquil. I think the medication truly helped my decision a lot, though I was still shaky on the road I was trying to jump off of.
My ED was like being on a high speed train that would eventually crash. I had to jump off the train before it was too late to save my life, but then what would become of it if I saved it? Would I die of being overweight, would my life be even more miserable than before? I decided to jump. I'm sure today that that was the right decision to make.
After returning home I went through the eight grade year, getting really good grades, not a 4.0, but on average, a 3.8 that was still good enough for the new me. Through my anorexia I had somehow kept up a perfect 4.0. I was every teacher's pet, and the perfect student. Little did they know, what was really behind the mask that I had placed myself in. I am still good, just not perfect with my studies. I figure school isn't something to stress over, just there to help you not be stressed in the future.
For some reason I started to feel as if I had to make up time from my past ED. I started binging all the time. I ended up going from a healthy 98 pounds to 130 within a month. With the encouragement of my mom, and not wanting to be overweight again, I lost another ten pounds and am now currently 120 pounds. A healthy weight for an advanced martial artist and athlete with lots of muscle mass.
I enjoy martial arts, video games, and irritating my little brother again. I still strive secretly to be perfect, but it's like my old habits refuse to come back again.
My new goal is to be the best in everything I do, since logically no one can be perfect. I've moved my goal from being perfect to just being nearly perfect. Even today, a year after treatment, I still struggle off and on, but I always look to God and my own heart for reassurance that I can still be great, even if not anorexic. I am perfect in His eyes, just the way I am.
-T. Y., 14 yrs. old
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