I used to be a champion eater. At summer camp I participated in the spaghetti-eating contest every year, and would shamelessly eat two ice creams a day, smiling with pride as my sisters looked back at me with disbelief. The food had little effect on me. No matter what went in my mouth I always maintained a perfectly soft figure, and I never thought anything of it; that is until I went to the doctor for a check-up. When I heard what my weight was my heart plunged into my welcoming stomach, and all I could do was retype that number into a BMI calculator over and over again only to get the same result telling me that I was inches away from being overweight.
My thoughts turned rigid and I created a mindset geared toward losing weight. I made a plan to start running every other day, and keep track of my caloric intake. Then every Monday I stood on a scale to monitor my progress. I was terrible at following this routine. I ran for fifteen minutes and refused to believe the amount of calories that were in trail mix. I had to be harsher. Every crumb that touched my lips was tallied, foods packed with sugar, fat, and carbs were omitted from my diet, and I never compensated for the calories burned while exercising.
I was quickly dropping pounds, indulging in the fact that I was eating less than a thousand calories a day. At night I would go to bed hungry after eating “dinner,” dreaming about what I would eat in the morning. My only purpose was to live for my next meal, which was never anything sufficient enough to keep my body from craving nutrients.
My mind was encased with a ton of cinder blocks, keeping the world out so I could comfortably stew in my constant self-hating state. I collapsed into myself, and drew further and further away from everything that mattered. My friends felt distant, and I hated my family for looking at me with concern. The more bones I could feel, the more my brain writhed with delight, rewarding all my hard work.
The less I ate, the happier my thoughts were, even though my body ached as it hollowly dragged along. All this power I held scared me for just a moment, that one moment where I realized that, in fact, I was powerless.
I couldn’t stop my downward spiral and decided to get help. I began seeing a therapist and a nutritionist every week who listened to a speech that they heard on constant replay, about how I actually felt fine, while I ignored all their advice. I was just another teen with an eating disorder that wasn’t even medically severe. How could I pretend that what I was going through meant anything compared to the group of anorexic girls stuck in the hospital across the street, who I would see walking around my block. Part of me longed to be part of those girls’ world where IVs pricked my skin, while my weaker half wished to reach out and shake those girls, hoping they could see that there is so much more to life. But why couldn’t I drop this twisted game? Why was I doing this to myself? Was it for boys? Was it for me? I still don’t know.