It all started when I was 8 years old. Back then, I wasn’t what you would call a thin kid. I had a revolting roll of fat that stubbornly sat on my abdomen, my rosy cheeks were disgustingly plump, and my pudgy fingers resembled the likeness of greasy breakfast sausages. I was old enough to understand I was a good 10 pounds heavier than most of the other girls in my 3rd grade class and that realization drilled a painful hole right into my self-esteem. Every morning as I put on my school uniform, I remember staring in the mirror and watching tears dripped down my face that I detested so much. All I wanted was to fit in, to have a stunning physical appearance, and to have a body as thin as a stick. I just wanted to be like every other girl in that damn class and that incredibly strong desire was the beginning of something so evil, so merciless, and so cruel that I would wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy. That thing was an eating disorder, the deadliest psychiatric illness there is today.
That very year I began the unhealthy and rather repulsive practice of purging after meals. I never stuck anything down my throat to let the barely-digested food make its way out of my body and into the toilet. I had struggled with acid reflux since I was a baby and just decided to use that to my advantage (or to what I thought was my advantage). I also befriended the bathroom scale and constantly step upon to figure out if I would be pleased with myself or wish I could just hide forever. Some days I would compulsively exercise and restrict my caloric intake in hopes my weight would dropped. As time went on though and I deprived myself more, I began to have relentless cravings for fattening, sugar-laden desserts. I would binge and binge and binge on them until my stomach begged me to stop and I was overcome with guilt. To make me feel at least a little bit better about myself after a binge, I made myself vomit until I decided that I got a majority of the godforsaken food item out of my system.
Somehow my caring parents never seemed to realize I was struggling with these behaviors. But I don’t blame them for that at all. I mean, who would ever think that a 3rd grader would be a full-blown bulimic? If my parents caught me throwing up, I would just explain to them I was struggling with acid reflux. They always believed that and promptly made an appointment with my doctor. At the doctor’s, I was prescribed medications like Prilosec and told to take Tums after I ate. I never did that though. I wasn’t going to stop puking. I wasn’t going to let myself get even fatter.
As years went by, my behaviors continued. My weight would constantly fluctuate, but as I got older I was able to manage to stay under the 5th percentile for my height and weight. My parents and doctor thought nothing of it, they just assumed I was somehow blessed with a naturally small physique. But once 7th grade came around, I somehow lost control. My obsession over food became much greater and I found myself restricting my caloric intake to under 500 calories per day. Each week I would drop 2 pounds off my already slender frame and I would not allow anyone to touch or prepare my meals. After months of these behaviors, my parents began to realize I had an eating disorder and my health was declining at a rapid pace. They promptly made an appointment with a stern but thorough nurse practitioner who instructed my parents that I needed to see a dietician and a therapist as soon as possible. Not too long after the appointment I was being dragged to weekly sessions with some annoying therapist and dietitian. At the dietician’s office, I was forced to step on the scale backwards so I wouldn’t even get to see the “accomplishments” I made with losing weight. She also prescribed a meal plan for me that I realize now was extremely tiny, but at the time anything more than 500 calories per day seemed massive. Unfortunately, these interventions were unsuccessful and my eating disorder began to take over a little bit more of me each and every day. Desperate, my parents admitted me as an inpatient to the Child & Adolescent Eating Disorder Unit at the over-rated Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin. For a horrible month I was forced to endure painful tube feedings, Ensures, no exercise, sub-par therapy, and meals so large you would think they were made for Michael Phelps! After inpatient hospitalization, I was discharged but going home wasn’t an option. Instead I was forced to head on over to live at the Roger’s Eating Disorder Center, a residential facility. Though the staff at the inpatient unit assured me that life at the residential facility would grant me more freedoms (like walks, choice of meals, and recreational therapy), I found it to be a thousand times worse. The staff there only seemed to focus on weight-gain and they would constantly revoke my privileges when I became infuriated with the program. Now you might think that it makes sense to take away my privileges when I misbehaved, but wouldn’t you be angry if you were a scared 13 year old, stripped off all your freedoms and barely allowed to see or talk to your family. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
After a miserable 2 months trapped in the residential facility, I was finally freed from that that dreadful prison. The idiotic medical team though claimed I wasn’t ready to go to regular outpatient therapy (where I would live at home and see my dietitian, psychiatrist, and therapist on a weekly basis) so they sentenced me to attend Roger’s Adolescent Eating Disorder Partial Program after discharge for more “treatment”. This partial program was a complete joke. Basically all that happened was you got weighed and then you sat in a small room, overcrowded with scratched leather sofas and chairs, for a ridiculous 6 hours. We would of course go down to the cafeteria for meals (that I think a mutt would turn his nose up to) and a prepackaged snack, but either than that, we were confined to that ugly room counting the minutes till we were allowed to leave.
Fortunately, my parents were quite disappointed with the partial program and they made the wise decision to pull me out of there after a long two weeks. By the time I was finally discharged from the partial program, I had endured more than 3 months of ludicrous treatment and though my physical health was more stable, my mental health had barely improved. Sure, I was able to stick food in my mouth and swallow it but every bite made me feel like a fat, ugly bitch inside. I still hated myself. I still wished I was dead. All in all, I still had an eating disorder. It’s just my body didn’t show it.
Now two years after my experience at Rogers, I have managed to stay out of the hospital despite many relapses and multiple threats to be admitted. I still am walking on a very thin ice right now due to my weight but something has finally change inside me. It’s like someone flipped a switch. You see, now I have the desire to bid farewell to my eating disorder and start living.
As you read this blog you’ll be witnessing my journey to recovery. I realize that this road will be rough and stumbling along the way is inevitable, but the good things in life are always what is worth fighting for.