My little war with anorexia

Good morning Travellers,

I made it, 5am, AGAIN!! And I think it’s going to go on my list of things I love, watching the world wake up, the sun rise and the quiet walk with the ladies..

I’m working my way towards writing about all things healthy life living kind of words and I’ve been trying to figure out where to begin, so I’m going to tell you where I began…

I’ve never really talked about what it’s like to be anorexic. When I look back, I can tell you for me, it had nothing to do with images in the media or magazines. I wasn’t starving to look like anyone else. I didn’t weigh myself obsessively or measure myself. I can remember ONE instance near the start of my disease thinking that my boyfriend was skinnier than me, I was 15 at the time, and in truth, the dude was a rail. And he was about 2 inches shorter.  I remember thinking that though, but the idea of not eating didn’t follow behind in my mind.

I can’t really say that I could pinpoint when I began not eating, but it slowly happened. I didn’t eat breakfast and stopped eating school lunch. And I can remember throwing out food off my plate at dinner when my mother left the room or I would just say I wasn’t hungry and would eat nothing. Being who I am now and knowing what I know about eating well and hydration, I look back and wonder how the hell did I survive? Because I was living on next to nothing for months.

The sores in my throat were the first sign something was going on. A warning perhaps. I wore baggy clothes and no one seemed to notice that I was disappearing. The sores were what tipped off my doctor and my mother. I remember I had to pee in a cup too. I can remember him looking into my throat and then telling me he needed to speak to her. She was ashamed of what I was doing, she told people I had mono, which I also had from the anorexia crippling my immune system.  I can’t remember her exact words, but she sent me to therapy and a nutritionist. She also never really wanted to talk about it or ask me anything. She had no idea what to do with me. I’m not sure I blame her for that part. I was 90 some pounds at the time, and for reference I’m 5’7”. The sores in my throat were the stomach acid creeping up, which happens when you starve and the urine test results showed my kidneys were deteriorating. My body was eating itself, or at least that what’s the nutritionist said. In order to save itself, it was digesting my organs and muscle tissue so it didn’t die.

I felt nothing when she told me that. In fact, I can’t really remember caring much about the whole situation. I wasn’t scared to die because I didn’t care. I do remember not eating gave me a sort of giddy high almost like when you buy a new piece of clothing. Two weird things with regards to the nutritionist: I remember her asking about friends and somehow she had me visualizing myself and my friend as tiny lizards, like colored lizards…I’m sure there’s a conversation here I’m forgetting because I remember crying and feeling sad, so there must be some fragments missing in memory because those two things make zero sense on their own. The other thing I remember is this funky protein drink she wanted me to consume, which had the strangest particulates in it that I’ve never encountered again. I didn’t like it either. I didn’t like being forced to eat, but I did…and I slowly grew back to normal size.

When I was at my worst, I remember my friend telling me that I looked green. She was my brave honest friend who always told it like it was and she was the only one I remember who was willing to acknowledge something was happening to me. I think when we are ill with things like this, it’s easier to look away isn’t it? It takes a rare soul to call you out and ask what are you going to do about it. This is my friend who will die at 16 in a foreign country, who I miss to this day and who was one of the reasons I decided at 29 to make this all stop.

For the next 14 years after my first battle, I would fall back into the anorexia again and again. Sometimes for several months, sometimes just a few weeks. Just randomly stopped eating. Strangely my body would continue to spontaneously drop 15 pounds without any changes in my eating around the time of year my anorexia began. I also would lose my appetite during this season and yet feel a zinging of energy. It was like it was marking time. Each fall, until maybe 3 years ago, it just recreated that memory for itself. Remember that part for another conversation…

At 21 I got scouted to model, and I was already in it’s clutches. I remember being in the head of an agency’s office to get measured for my card and my waist was 21”. I remember runway class and seeing myself in the mirror and thinking, “My clothes are just hanging on me”. In that moment, I think I was surprised by myself. Fortunately, a random conversation with a photographer made me decide to not continue down that road. Probably one of my better life choices. Might not be here writing these words if I hadn’t left that path.

At 29, I had had it. I decided my 20s were misery by mostly my hand and the 30s had to be better. Life had to be better than this. I decided to start working out again, for an hour a day 5 days a week. My theory was that exercise would create an insatiable hunger that I would not be able to deny. It would make me eat. I would have no choice to eat. And that is where I began…

In retrospect, I think the anorexia began from a combination of the sexually inappropriate stuff my stepfather did to me and the instability of life with my mother. I say that not as a victim, but in terms of cause and effect. As I’ve said before, our actions ripple out and for young people I think it’s harder to ride those waves. My anorexia was a disease of control. I had none in my life, so this is what I did. I actually have no regrets because ultimately it has helped make me who I am and I’m mostly good with this person. The war with my anorexia made stronger, and that’s where I leave you today…

P.S. If you are fighting a battle with anorexia of your own, please seek help. It gets better, but you have to make it better, and you can. We all have our own internal wars we fight and this one can be won. Every person’s battle with this disease is different but all lives are worth saving. The thing is you need your body, your vehicle, to travel through this world. And you only get one.


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