“To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
When I was a little girl, all I wanted to do was to grow up. Now that I’m older (and a little bit wiser), I’d give anything to be a kid again.
I didn’t have to worry about going to college, getting a job, paying bills or even falling in love. And I most certainly didn’t worry about the way I looked.
I loved the knots in my tangled hair. I admired the scabs and bruises on my knees from falling off sister’s bike. But most importantly, I loved the fact that I looked different than anyone else, even if I was the chubby one.
But everything changed in middle school. I remember when the negative thoughts started, too. The spring dance was a week away and after months of going back and forth, I got the courage to ask out my crush to the school dance. Instead of saying “yes” to me, he made fun of me (in front of his friends) and said to me that he would never “go out with a girl who had four chins.”
For the first time in my life, I saw the rolls of fat hanging from my stomach. I looked with disgust at the stretch marks on my pudgy thighs. It was at that moment that I said out loud to myself – “I’m fat.”
For a large part of my life, I was one of the estimated 24 million people in the United States who suffer from an eating disorder. I was 15 years old and attending Pitman High School at the time my doctor diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa.
By the age of 16, I weighed 90 pounds.
No matter how thin I was or how many of my ribs would show in my mirror, every time I looked at myself I saw a chubby and powerless woman. This eating disorder not only affected my life, it affected the lives of the people around me as well. My family took the worst hit from my disease. And if there’s one thing that I regret from this whole ordeal, it is putting my family through this horrible experience. But without their help and support, I would not be alive to tell this story.
I remember one particular doctor visit that changed my life forever. The doctor came in my room and put a monitor in front of my chest to check the rhythmic pattern of my heart. He heard an abnormal heart rhythm commonly found in anorexic patients known as bradycardia. He told me that if I didn’t get better in the next few months, I would suffer a heart attack. I’ll never forget my mother’s reaction when they doctor delivered the news. It still haunts me to this day.
It was at that moment that I took the blindfold off my eyes and chose the road of recovery. It took approximately 7 years of counseling, doctor and nutritionist visits to fully recover from Anorexia.
It’s been 10 years since I made the decision to live a healthier life. But if I’m being honest, it’s still a constant struggle. Every morning that I wake up, I continue the battle against the anorexic thoughts that circulate in my head. I was blessed with supportive family and friends who have helped me in my recovery.