The earliest I can recall “symptoms” of anorexia, I would say was around the 3rd grade. I remember asking for a diet coke instead of the real thing. Asking for a salad with no dressing and skipping out on pizza at birthday parties. I can recall starting to exercise and not just for play. It now had a purpose. I remember looking at myself side by side other girls my age in a swim class and feeling “fat.” I had a round belly and thick legs, unlike my other classmates. I recall hearing friends and family mention so and so had such a cute figure and shape. How beautiful I would be in that shape. So naturally, I thought something was wrong with me. Fast forward to my freshman year in high school when things really kicked into overdrive. Kids can be mean. I got picked on some but not much. My friends were getting asked out by boys but I was not. When I looked at them and looked at me, I felt different. I began to hide food in my room. Eat alone in the bathroom at school. The smaller I got, the more I felt people paid attention in a positive way.
My support system was my dad and my aunt. I never entered a treatment facility or program. I did meet with a counselor on a regular basis but nothing formal. My dad and I would put food on a plate and eat together. Hang out together after to make sure I didn’t exercise it off or purge. We developed a daily routine. My aunt also provided a great deal of support. Even though we lived a few hours apart, she gave me an angel figurine I could hold on to and look at when I felt I needed support or a reminder of how much I am loved and supported. On my worst days, I would hold her in my hand while I made tough choices but choices that would make me better.
Today, I am a mother of two. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son. Both are happy and healthy and I could not ask for more. I also have a partner who loves me for who I am. The good, the bad and the ugly. We both had a bumpy road to find each other but here we are. I will do anything to protect my children. I want my daughter to know she is beautiful inside and out just the way she is. She is worthy and she loved so much. I’ll do anything in my power to protect them and their happiness.
It’s been tough, but it is worth every fight. Every bite of food you keep in your body. Every sip of water. This is not something that ever goes away but you learn to manage it and deal with it. You are a fighter and a survivor. Do it for you. There is hope and it will get better. The hardest part is acknowledging there is a problem and taking that first step no matter how small. My first step was admitting I had a problem to my doctor and it was incredibly difficult. The next most difficult step was eating a rice cake and not purging or immediately going to exercise for hours on end. I cried and lost sleep over it but it gets better, it gets easier and the sun will shine on you again.
I am a 34 year old mother of two.