7th grade health class. I remember this day so distinctly. My health teacher had us record online what we were eating each day, how much we are exercising, blah blah blah. And I remember seeing afterwards on the site how healthy of a person you were. At this time I was a competitive gymnast exercising quite a bit. I loved my fair share of treats: cookies, pizza, you name it. But I was never overweight. I just didn’t put much thought into food. But after seeing those results saying I wasn’t eating enough veggies/fruits and such, it clicked some switch in my brain. A bad switch. It didn’t really have a huge effect on me per say, but I definitely thought of food differently. In eighth grade, I felt my body starting to change-I was developing breasts and did NOT want to change into a woman. I started to want a smaller body-one that would look the best in a leotard, one that had a flat stomach. So I started to count how many foods I was eating a day and made healthier choices. Things weren’t spiraling too badly out of hand until the summer going into high school. I remember one day I went to an end of the year gymnastics party. I had some chips and salsa and salad but really wanted a cupcake. So I had the cupcake and I remember the thoughts of disgust I felt about myself- I felt HUGE. And at the point on I went into a downward spiral of self-destruction. I started to count calories and made a journal of what I ate each day. At this time, I was also experiencing stomach discomfort. I was more constipated and thought it was because of dairy, so I cut out all dairy from my diet. If only I realized the constipation was from all of the restricting… September, 2011. This was supposed to be the most exciting time of my life. Entering high school and starting a new chapter with all of my friends. However, this was not a good time in my life-at ALL. I was continuing on with 20 hours of gymnastics a week, a full course load with all honors classes, and my eating disorder. Fun, right? I remember people telling me at gymnastics that I looked thinner and of course, I thought that was the best compliment in the world. Fast forward to November. I went to the doctors for a check up, yet they were concerned about my weight loss. My doctor said I needed to not be restricting myself from food. But I was the stubbornest teen, and did not listen. Later on that month, I competed in my first gymnastics meet that season and won. It was supposed to be a happy time in my life: winning my first meet, my birthday coming up, Thanksgiving coming up, but it was AWFUL. The day after my birthday, I went into practice and felt incredibly week. I vaulted; however landed very short and stung my ankle. I was continuing to drop weight and restrict my calories, so this little injury took a while to heel. December, 2011. I remember going to the doctors and being diagnosed with anorexia. My weight was at an all time low and my doctor pulled me from gymnastics (I never returned to gymnastics after this). This is when the full-blown arguments began with my parents, and when I started swearing… a lot. Through all of this, I somehow managed to get straight A’s. I was obsessed with being perfect at everything. Christmas time was horrible. Christmas break was horrible. A time that is meant to be spent with family and friends- a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to enjoy the delicious holiday treats was a time spent stuck in the midst of my eating disorder. January, 2012. My parents entered me into an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). I remember the first day- It was extremely difficult for me. I had not ate that much in a long time. And of course, the next day I restricted a ton. I told my parents I refused to go there again. So I did not go back there and just continued with my ed. It became a sort of companion for me. The end of January I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened up to my mom about how I wanted to get help. February, 2012. I began seeing a therapist and a nutritionist. I started to get on the path to recovery, yet never reached my healthy weight. I thought I was fine at the weight I was at. I was continuing to eat-not enough however. September, 2012. I started my sophomore year in high school. I was still not free from my eating disorder, as right when school started, my ed came into full force. I stopped eating breakfast, I joined my high school’s swim team which was not healthy for me at the time, and had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I was not necessarily afraid of eating unhealthy foods, but more about how much I was eating-the calorie content, etc etc. I was also always concerned about not feeling bloated and full. Those feelings were equivalent to torture in my mind. Fast forward to March, 2013. I got my first job at a grocery store bagging and doing the cashier. I was also continuing to exercise four days a week at this time. The long shifts made me exhausted. Bagging for five hours took a toll on my body. Also, during this month I started to abuse laxatives even more than before. Dulcolax become my eating disorder’s partner in crime. As each month passed, my ed became stronger. I remember going on a vacation to Aruba with my family. A time that was meant to be fun was in fact awful for me. I was exhausted the whole trip and focused on the food rather than the beautiful weather, my family, and how grateful I should have been to even go on this trip. June, 2013. I thought that once school was out, things would get better. Little did I know I was completely wrong. Time not spent in school gave me more time to focus on my ed. I cut back my calories even more, continued to go to the gym when I felt like I was going to faint, and became even more fixated on food and how I looked. My relationship with my mom, dad, and brother was terrible. I thought of committing suicide many times. My pillow became the spot where all the tears fell at night. I remember crying to my mom and saying I didn’t know what to do. July, 2013. I started to have seizures from not eating enough. My laxative use was out of control. I tried seeking help and going to a nutritionist but remember seeing the meal plan and thinking “No way in hell can I do this.” So I had my mom contact Walden and had an evaluation with them. I thought I would just enter the IOP program but little did I know, I dropped even more weight. July 19, 2013. A date I will remember forever. A day filled with tears. The day I was sent to a residential program. I was committed this time to finally change my life for the better. I spent one month at Walden’s residential program and a week at their day program. Following the day program, I was immediately transferred to the IOP program, which I did for two months. After being discharged from IOP, my ed started to kick back in. The relationship with my parents was still not good. I started restricting again, yet something clicked in December. I thought, Why am I doing this to myself STILL? I fought like hell and from that day on, I did not restrict. I ate everything I was supposed to. I stopped counting calories, I stopped having to follow my exchange meal plan, I regained relationships with friends and family, I ate intuitively and I genuinely felt happy. I still see a therapist and psychiatrist; however, I consider myself to be recovered. I am at a healthy weight, I do not fear food anymore, I do not push myself too hard with exercise. I consider myself to finally be free from my ed. Of course I still have bad days, days where I do not feel good about my body, days where I feel guilty for eating certain foods. But I fight. I fight like hell. And I do NOT give up. I am stronger than my eating disorder. I preach a balanced life style-one filled with nutritious foods but one also filled with treats. I believe that no one should deny themselves from certain foods. I believe that exercise is a gift-it is not meant for something to be stressed over or simply done just to burn calories. I believe exercise is not meant to take over your life. I am a self-love advocate, and believe that loving your body is extremely important. I believe that everything happens for a reason in life, and through my struggles I have stumbled upon my strength.
Check out my story too over at my lovely friend Emily’s blog! -> From Broken to Beautiful