My Eating Disorder Story: NEDA Week 2019

My eating disorder is Easter 2011, around 8:30 P.M.

My mom clears the table for the dessert spread. I’m wearing a blue Abercrombie tank top tucked into a floral skirt. My stomach is bloated, stretching the band of the skirt so I can’t see my toes. I look down. Then I look up. Greeted by dessert. I slide into a seat next to my cousins and dive in. Three of this, two of those, a couple glasses of milk…what’s that? My sister offers to make hot chocolate for everyone. She makes me two because “I have a big appetite guys”. As if that wasn’t clear.
.

I had just turned 13. I lived my entire life in food oblivion and thus food freedom. I was always an athlete, highly active and loved a good sweat. I just never thought about what I ate. I remember eating more prominently than I remember doing many other things as a kid.
.
However, I’ll never forget this Easter. I remember looking in the mirror after dessert, my tummy jutting out what felt like yards. I lay on my bed in pain, a stomachache parading through my entire body, a small price to pay for the delicious eats I had vacuumed down in about half an hour. But I also remember thinking how much cuter my outfit would look if my stomach were flat. Why did I just eat so much? I remember feeling angry for eating. For the first time in my life.
.
And God knows it wouldn’t be the last.
.
That was the day I swore I was going to go on a “diet”. I was starting high school in a few months, and I wanted that flat stomach that my two best friends had. They didn’t have to diet, but I guess I did.  I accepted that I had to do what I had to do. I was determined to look like them. Easy enough. I mean they were doing it with no trouble at all, right? Right. Except I was 13 and ignorant and had no idea what I was falling into.

My eating disorder is my basement treadmill, 11 P.M. on a Friday night.

It’s been about a month of “clean eating”, a concept I stumble across on the Internet after intense research. I now only eat foods that strangers behind a screen millions of miles away deem acceptable. I also start “really working out”, dismissing the many dance classes and softball practices I participate in as exercise. No, those were just hobbies. “Exercise” means I have to be in the gym, have to be in workout clothes, dripping sweat, etc.
.
I take up running. I start with a slow pace, no incline, only about two miles. A week passes, and I don’t see the results I expect to see. Because a week should be enough time. I learned that from the ads popping up all over my computer monitor about 5 days to a flatter stomach. 5 days!
.
I kick it up a notch. The more intense the workouts, the quicker the fix. Obviously. I’m now running on a difficult incline for at least 6 miles a day. I come home from school and throw my backpack down, rapidly change into running shorts and sneakers, and hit the treadmill. Homework can wait. I’m healthy and fit now, so I have to run first.
.
This particular Friday night is Megan’s birthday dinner at a pizzeria downtown. My best friend picks me up, and we carpool there. I order a salad, even though everyone’s pizza smells so good. Megan’s mom bakes cupcakes for dessert. I take one because I was well-behaved during dinner, so I’m allowed to have this treat. The cupcake is delicious. I’m happy. Then my best friend offers to treat me to fro-yo next door before heading home. He’s smiling and begs me, “come on Ang!”…I give in. I’ll just run again when I get home. The run I completed after school doesn’t even cross my mind. It feels years away, inching further away with each spoonful of yogurt.
.
He drops me home around 10 that night. I thank him for the ride and the treat and practically jump out of the car as it’s still moving. Anxious, so anxious. I feel the fro-yo in my stomach, threatening to swell up and prevent me from ever being thin. I trip and fall to my knees as I run up the stairs to change. Can’t feel any pain my mind is so fixated on the burn I should have started already.
.
It’s 10:06 PM. I waste no time. The treadmill is fired up and I’m running toward my goals, towards health, toward fitness. Toward beauty and popularity and happiness.
.
Right.
.
It’s 11 PM. My parents are home from dinner and my mom enters the basement. She wants to know what I’m doing, didn’t I run after school? I can’t believe she isn’t impressed with me. Whatever. I tell her that I had fro-yo, and I had to run because of it. She looks concerned, tells me to please go to bed, run tomorrow… I have two miles left. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I joke with her in between gasps for air.

My eating disorder is a ballroom at the Hershey Hotel, early May 2012, 7 P.M.

My middle school’s graduation trip is to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. We have a dance on Thursday night and then spend the day exploring the park on Friday. I’ve been working my ass off for this dance. I want to look thin, fit, gorgeous, like the fitness models and bikini models on magazine covers that I’ve been worshipping. I’ve been “dieting” for about four months now. My intake is pretty repetitious and limited, but I treat myself when I feel like it because I can always just crank out some extra exercise and make up for it later.
.
My mom gives me permission to order a $500 bedazzled prom dress for the dance. It’s the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. We order it right before my birthday, so there’s enough time for shipping and possible alterations.
.
The dress comes and is a little big. This is two months out from the dance. My mom takes me to her tailor and we had it taken in an inch or two.
.
A week before the dance I try on the dress again, because it was so beautiful and I was going to look so amazing!
.
But it falls to my ankles.
.
My mom is scared. Why am I losing weight so fast? It’s hard for her to notice, change isn’t really obvious to those who see us everyday. She tells me there isn’t time to take it in now. Not that much. There would be no dress left.
.
We run out to the mall the next day. I purchase a body-con dress in Bloomingdales in the smallest possible size, the only way I fit in a dress at this point.
.
Now I’m in the ballroom, migrating from friend to friend, posing for pictures. At this point I’m thin and there’s no denying. But I don’t look unhealthy or skeletal, so I’m in that phase where everyone is admiring my weight loss and praising my dedication. My two best friends try to drag me off the dance floor for a buffet dinner, but I pretend that I’m having such an amazing time dancing that I’ll catch them later. Truth is, I scoped out the buffet earlier and nothing looked good enough to treat myself or was safe enough to eat without a workout afterward.
.
I play the same game with dessert. We head back to our rooms to turn in for the night. Room service leaves Hershey kisses on each of our pillows. The three girls I’m staying with pop them in their mouths within seconds of spotting them. I pretend I’m saving mine for later, and bury it under tissues in the bathroom garbage can later that night.

My eating disorder is my pediatrician’s office, around noon, a late August breeze sneaking through an open window.

I’m in my volleyball clothes. I recently went out for the high school team with my neighbor and we both made it. I have practice at 2 PM. I’m getting my physical done so I can complete my school athletics form and officially commit to the team.
.
My doctor compares my stats from this check-up to my past numbers. Apparently, the past three years I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight between every visit, with an inch or two each year as well. This year I’m down almost double what I usually gain.
.
“Whatever you’re doing needs to stop” my doctor warns. She turns to my mom and lets her know that any more lost weight and there could be serious consequences. My mom agrees, but my doctor isn’t finished. She says something about eating disorders, to watch me, to keep my intake high especially as an athlete.
.
The car ride home is tense. I’m in my own head, I’m trying to figure out what I should eat before practice. It can’t be anything too high in carbs because what if we don’t have a hard practice? It goes without saying that whatever I eat won’t have any fat whatsoever. I cut out fat a long time ago. My research taught me high fat = belly fat. Which, in my case, would be counterintuitive. Maybe a banana? But it is a three hour practice…
.
My mom interrupts my thoughts. She tells me she’s making me a turkey sandwich with pretzels before practice. We pull into the driveway. I consider arguing, but then I think about what the doctor said. I agree, half afraid and half willing to eat mainly because I was starving and haven’t had a sandwich in way too long. I eat half and tell my mom I’ll save the rest for after practice. I go outside to wait for my ride. I crush the sandwich in the tinfoil and form a ball. Toss it down the street. My ride pulls up. I hop in, half fueled. I feel strong for resisting half of the sandwich. I’m so fit and healthy, I don’t overindulge or eat whole sandwiches. I remember feeling on top of the world on my way to practice that day.

My eating disorder is a convention center at Penn State University, Memorial Day weekend 2013, 8 A.M.

I begin playing on a club volleyball team after falling in love with the sport during my freshmen year of high school. The club season began in December. As a team, we play in about 8 big tournaments a year. The last one is Memorial Day weekend, three days of non-stop volleyball. The atmosphere is unexplainable. Thousands of girls battling it out on the court for hours. As a passionate player, it’s a dream come true.
.
However, by this point it’s now been well over a year of my “diet”. I never stop. I do get that flat stomach I was searching for, but I’m so addicted to my lifestyle that I can’t let it go. Actually, I’m scared to now. I eat twice a day. Two or three cheerios for breakfast before school, no lunch, and a baked chicken breast with broccoli for dinner. I am strong because I don’t eat. When I have practice I sometimes add a sweet potato to my dinner plate, and eat half. I run miles and miles every day, running on nothing but air.
.
I love being empty. I feel so light and capable when I’m empty. There’s nothing holding me down. Life is good. Hunger is good. It means that I’m strong. That I don’t give in.
.
But life isn’t all that great. I’ve been really moody, and I snap at my friends and family constantly. None of my clothes really fit anymore, which is only a bad thing because I have nothing to wear. I don’t hang out with my friends because they always want to grab food, and I don’t do that. Also, when would I workout?
.
All I do is homework now. I go to school, try and fail to focus in class, come home, do homework, then watch the clock like a hawk until 5 PM comes around. That’s when I’m allowed to eat dinner. I’m only allowed to take a bite every five minutes. I cut the breast into mini pieces, getting about twenty. 20*5…I spend 100 minutes at the dinner table eating a chicken breast. If I don’t wait five minutes between each bite I’ll get fat and all my hard work would be for nothing.
.
I’m sitting on the bench at this tournament. My coach, who my best friend and I grew super close to over the season, takes me aside. I had spent the entire season in the starting 6. She grabs my arm, and asks me what the hell is wrong with me. Why am I not eating? Why doesn’t my jersey fit me? I just stare at her. I can’t really focus. I ask her why I’m sitting this game out. She tells me I’m not healthy enough to play. She makes a compromise with me. If I eat a Subway sandwich, one of the ones she’s ordering for the team lunch, then I can start next game.
.
Lunch comes around. She passes out the sandwiches. I take one, and think it burns a hole through my hand? Being this close to bread sends my heart racing. I have no intentions to eat this. It will make me fat, and I didn’t workout enough to eat it. She’s watching me like a hawk. My teammates are laughing and talking around me. We’re sitting in a circle in an air conditioned hallway next to an open door. It’s around 80 degrees outside, and the girls I’m with are sweating and complaining about the heat. I’m wearing a North Face and fuzzy pants over my uniform. There’s a chill in my bones I can’t shake. My coach gets pulled aside by a coach nearby, and I shove the sandwich in a secret compartment of my bag and run to the bathroom. I come back ten minutes later. My coach wants to know how my sandwich was.
.
I tell her it was good, can I play now? She smiles, then frowns, then grabs my bag. She pulls out the sandwich. “Good, huh?”
.
That night my mom and I checked out of our hotel two days early. My coach told me she wasn’t playing me the rest of the weekend. I might as well go home.
.
The tournament was the last of the season.

My eating disorder is a psychiatrist’s office at the local hospital, 2 P.M late June 2013.

My parents wrestle me into the car today. My mom has been researching eating disorder treatment facilities. Her and my dad keep threatening to “send me away” if I don’t gain weight. They’re convinced I’m anorexic. I’ve only seen that word in textbooks and I think I heard it once on TV? But it doesn’t sound right. I’m healthy and fit.
.
I also weight less than my 11 year old sister.  I’m just finishing my freshmen year of high school, making me 14. I have no friends. I never leave the house. I eat about 200 calories a day. I stopped running, because I don’t care anymore. I cry a lot. I’ve never seen so many bones in my life. I wear my fourth grade sister’s leggings everyday, because they almost fit. I go to school and only speak when I am spoken to. I spend the days counting down the minutes until I can go back to sleep. I cringe when I wake up. Why did I have to wake up?
.
Deep down inside, this treatment idea sounds really nice. You mean I HAVE to eat? And I’ll have no choice? If I don’t eat, I’m trapped in this hospital forever? Well, that sounds like a good enough reason. I guess I can let myself eat then. And I can eat all of the foods I’ve been too scared to eat myself. Deep down, I want to go to treatment. I want to be out of control, I want someone else to force feed me because I don’t trust myself. But agreeing to treatment is giving in, giving up my clean eating and addicting lifestyle.
.
The psychiatrist looks at me. My chart. Me again.
.
“Yeah, she’s anorexic alright”
.
Doesn’t even make eye contact. He just glosses me over. I’m just another case.
.
He tells us that most people wait weeks on a waiting list, but my condition is bad enough to get me in by tomorrow.
.
TOMORROW.
.
I come so close to giving in, but instead choose to put up the fight and resist. I beg my parents to take me home. I’ll eat, I’ll eat whatever you make me just promise me you won’t lock me up and send me away and forget about me and take me away from my life.
.
My parents give me one last chance. We drive home. My mom makes me a sandwich and places it in front of me. But now I go back on my word. We scream and fight with each other. I refuse to eat it. I run outside and up the street in mismatched sneakers and covered in tears. I decide in that moment that I’ll just run away. My dad is screaming behind me, chasing me down the street. I have no plan, I just run. My mom is crying in the distance. I’m trying to run but I’m going to collapse any moment now. My dad tackles me and we both fall.

I could go on forever with these flashbacks. My eating disorder is a deadly place. My eating disorder was everywhere, at all times. I could tell you about my first hospital stay,  my relapse, my second inpatient admission, my next relapse, my attempted recovery, my plateau, and then my true recovery. Each step is a book in itself. I could go into detail and describe the holidays I spent screaming and crying in front of forty extend family members because my parents tried to get me to eat. Or about how embarrassed I was by my sick body and how I never left the house in fear of being seen. How I ate a Special K plain cornflake (ONE, SINGULAR) for breakfast and didn’t eat again for 12 hours. How I ran 20 miles one day on nothing but water. How often death crossed my mind. How terrorized I became by numbers, how afraid I became of food, how much hell I put myself through for a peace of mind I never got.
.
Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about my past. To think that I would have easily thrown this all away makes my heart so heavy. If I had never fought like hell I would have never had this. This life. I’ve never faced anything harder in my life than recovery.
.
This week, NEDA Awareness week, take the time to remind yourself how lucky you are to be alive, just the way you are. You have so much potential, so much to live for. My eating disorder came close to taking my life more times than I care to share. I would never wish my experience on my worst enemy. If you or someone you know is struggling, please, PLEASE reach out. Stop them. Stop yourself.
.
Recovery CAN’T wait until tomorrow. If you don’t act today, you never will.

 

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My eating disorder is Easter 2011, around 8:30 P.M.

My mom clears the table for the dessert spread. I’m wearing a blue Abercrombie tank top tucked into a floral skirt. My stomach is bloated, stretching the band of the skirt so I can’t see my toes. I look down. Then I look up. Greeted by dessert. I slide into a seat next to my cousins and dive in. Three of this, two of those, a couple glasses of milk…what’s that? My sister offers to make hot chocolate for everyone. She makes me two because “I have a big appetite guys”. As if that wasn’t clear.
.
I had just turned 13. I lived my entire life in food oblivion and thus food freedom. I was always an athlete, highly active and loved a good sweat. I just never thought about what I ate. I remember eating more prominently than I remember doing many other things as a kid.
.
However, I’ll never forget this Easter. I remember looking in the mirror after dessert, my tummy jutting out what felt like yards. I lay on my bed in pain, a stomachache parading through my entire body, a small price to pay for the delicious eats I had vacuumed down in about half an hour. But I also remember thinking how much cuter my outfit would look if my stomach were flat. Why did I just eat so much? I remember feeling angry for eating. For the first time in my life.
.
And God knows it wouldn’t be the last.
.
That was the day I swore I was going to go on a “diet”. I was starting high school in a few months, and I wanted that flat stomach that my two best friends had. They didn’t have to diet, but I guess I did.  I accepted that I had to do what I had to do. I was determined to look like them. Easy enough. I mean they were doing it with no trouble at all, right? Right. Except I was 13 and ignorant and had no idea what I was falling into.

My eating disorder is my basement treadmill, 11 P.M. on a Friday night.

It’s been about a month of “clean eating”, a concept I stumble across on the Internet after intense research. I now only eat foods that strangers behind a screen millions of miles away deem acceptable. I also start “really working out”, dismissing the many dance classes and softball practices I participate in as exercise. No, those were just hobbies. “Exercise” means I have to be in the gym, have to be in workout clothes, dripping sweat, etc.
.
I take up running. I start with a slow pace, no incline, only about two miles. A week passes, and I don’t see the results I expect to see. Because a week should be enough time. I learned that from the ads popping up all over my computer monitor about 5 days to a flatter stomach. 5 days!
.
I kick it up a notch. The more intense the workouts, the quicker the fix. Obviously. I’m now running on a difficult incline for at least 6 miles a day. I come home from school and throw my backpack down, rapidly change into running shorts and sneakers, and hit the treadmill. Homework can wait. I’m healthy and fit now, so I have to run first.
.
This particular Friday night is Megan’s birthday dinner at a pizzeria downtown. My best friend picks me up, and we carpool there. I order a salad, even though everyone’s pizza smells so good. Megan’s mom bakes cupcakes for dessert. I take one because I was well-behaved during dinner, so I’m allowed to have this treat. The cupcake is delicious. I’m happy. Then my best friend offers to treat me to fro-yo next door before heading home. He’s smiling and begs me, “come on Ang!”…I give in. I’ll just run again when I get home. The run I completed after school doesn’t even cross my mind. It feels years away, inching further away with each spoonful of yogurt.
.
He drops me home around 10 that night. I thank him for the ride and the treat and practically jump out of the car as it’s still moving. Anxious, so anxious. I feel the fro-yo in my stomach, threatening to swell up and prevent me from ever being thin. I trip and fall to my knees as I run up the stairs to change. Can’t feel any pain my mind is so fixated on the burn I should have started already.
.
It’s 10:06 PM. I waste no time. The treadmill is fired up and I’m running toward my goals, towards health, toward fitness. Toward beauty and popularity and happiness.
.
Right.
.
It’s 11 PM. My parents are home from dinner and my mom enters the basement. She wants to know what I’m doing, didn’t I run after school? I can’t believe she isn’t impressed with me. Whatever. I tell her that I had fro-yo, and I had to run because of it. She looks concerned, tells me to please go to bed, run tomorrow… I have two miles left. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I joke with her in between gasps for air.

My eating disorder is a ballroom at the Hershey Hotel, early May 2012, 7 P.M.

My middle school’s graduation trip is to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. We have a dance on Thursday night and then spend the day exploring the park on Friday. I’ve been working my ass off for this dance. I want to look thin, fit, gorgeous, like the fitness models and bikini models on magazine covers that I’ve been worshipping. I’ve been “dieting” for about four months now. My intake is pretty repetitious and limited, but I treat myself when I feel like it because I can always just crank out some extra exercise and make up for it later.
.
My mom gives me permission to order a $500 bedazzled prom dress for the dance. It’s the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. We order it right before my birthday, so there’s enough time for shipping and possible alterations.
.
The dress comes and is a little big. This is two months out from the dance. My mom takes me to her tailor and we had it taken in an inch or two.
.
A week before the dance I try on the dress again, because it was so beautiful and I was going to look so amazing!
.
But it falls to my ankles.
.
My mom is scared. Why am I losing weight so fast? It’s hard for her to notice, change isn’t really obvious to those who see us everyday. She tells me there isn’t time to take it in now. Not that much. There would be no dress left.
.
We run out to the mall the next day. I purchase a body-con dress in Bloomingdales in the smallest possible size, the only way I fit in a dress at this point.
.
Now I’m in the ballroom, migrating from friend to friend, posing for pictures. At this point I’m thin and there’s no denying. But I don’t look unhealthy or skeletal, so I’m in that phase where everyone is admiring my weight loss and praising my dedication. My two best friends try to drag me off the dance floor for a buffet dinner, but I pretend that I’m having such an amazing time dancing that I’ll catch them later. Truth is, I scoped out the buffet earlier and nothing looked good enough to treat myself or was safe enough to eat without a workout afterward.
.
I play the same game with dessert. We head back to our rooms to turn in for the night. Room service leaves Hershey kisses on each of our pillows. The three girls I’m staying with pop them in their mouths within seconds of spotting them. I pretend I’m saving mine for later, and bury it under tissues in the bathroom garbage can later that night.

My eating disorder is my pediatrician’s office, around noon, a late August breeze sneaking through an open window.

I’m in my volleyball clothes. I recently went out for the high school team with my neighbor and we both made it. I have practice at 2 PM. I’m getting my physical done so I can complete my school athletics form and officially commit to the team.
.
My doctor compares my stats from this check-up to my past numbers. Apparently, the past three years I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight between every visit, with an inch or two each year as well. This year I’m down almost double what I usually gain.
.
“Whatever you’re doing needs to stop” my doctor warns. She turns to my mom and lets her know that any more lost weight and there could be serious consequences. My mom agrees, but my doctor isn’t finished. She says something about eating disorders, to watch me, to keep my intake high especially as an athlete.
.
The car ride home is tense. I’m in my own head, I’m trying to figure out what I should eat before practice. It can’t be anything too high in carbs because what if we don’t have a hard practice? It goes without saying that whatever I eat won’t have any fat whatsoever. I cut out fat a long time ago. My research taught me high fat = belly fat. Which, in my case, would be counterintuitive. Maybe a banana? But it is a three hour practice…
.
My mom interrupts my thoughts. She tells me she’s making me a turkey sandwich with pretzels before practice. We pull into the driveway. I consider arguing, but then I think about what the doctor said. I agree, half afraid and half willing to eat mainly because I was starving and haven’t had a sandwich in way too long. I eat half and tell my mom I’ll save the rest for after practice. I go outside to wait for my ride. I crush the sandwich in the tinfoil and form a ball. Toss it down the street. My ride pulls up. I hop in, half fueled. I feel strong for resisting half of the sandwich. I’m so fit and healthy, I don’t overindulge or eat whole sandwiches. I remember feeling on top of the world on my way to practice that day.

My eating disorder is a convention center at Penn State University, Memorial Day weekend 2013, 8 A.M.

I begin playing on a club volleyball team after falling in love with the sport during my freshmen year of high school. The club season began in December. As a team, we play in about 8 big tournaments a year. The last one is Memorial Day weekend, three days of non-stop volleyball. The atmosphere is unexplainable. Thousands of girls battling it out on the court for hours. As a passionate player, it’s a dream come true.
.
However, by this point it’s now been well over a year of my “diet”. I never stop. I do get that flat stomach I was searching for, but I’m so addicted to my lifestyle that I can’t let it go. Actually, I’m scared to now. I eat twice a day. Two or three cheerios for breakfast before school, no lunch, and a baked chicken breast with broccoli for dinner. I am strong because I don’t eat. When I have practice I sometimes add a sweet potato to my dinner plate, and eat half. I run miles and miles every day, running on nothing but air.
.
I love being empty. I feel so light and capable when I’m empty. There’s nothing holding me down. Life is good. Hunger is good. It means that I’m strong. That I don’t give in.
.
But life isn’t all that great. I’ve been really moody, and I snap at my friends and family constantly. None of my clothes really fit anymore, which is only a bad thing because I have nothing to wear. I don’t hang out with my friends because they always want to grab food, and I don’t do that. Also, when would I workout?
.
All I do is homework now. I go to school, try and fail to focus in class, come home, do homework, then watch the clock like a hawk until 5 PM comes around. That’s when I’m allowed to eat dinner. I’m only allowed to take a bite every five minutes. I cut the breast into mini pieces, getting about twenty. 20*5…I spend 100 minutes at the dinner table eating a chicken breast. If I don’t wait five minutes between each bite I’ll get fat and all my hard work would be for nothing.
.
I’m sitting on the bench at this tournament. My coach, who my best friend and I grew super close to over the season, takes me aside. I had spent the entire season in the starting 6. She grabs my arm, and asks me what the hell is wrong with me. Why am I not eating? Why doesn’t my jersey fit me? I just stare at her. I can’t really focus. I ask her why I’m sitting this game out. She tells me I’m not healthy enough to play. She makes a compromise with me. If I eat a Subway sandwich, one of the ones she’s ordering for the team lunch, then I can start next game.
.
Lunch comes around. She passes out the sandwiches. I take one, and think it burns a hole through my hand? Being this close to bread sends my heart racing. I have no intentions to eat this. It will make me fat, and I didn’t workout enough to eat it. She’s watching me like a hawk. My teammates are laughing and talking around me. We’re sitting in a circle in an air conditioned hallway next to an open door. It’s around 80 degrees outside, and the girls I’m with are sweating and complaining about the heat. I’m wearing a North Face and fuzzy pants over my uniform. There’s a chill in my bones I can’t shake. My coach gets pulled aside by a coach nearby, and I shove the sandwich in a secret compartment of my bag and run to the bathroom. I come back ten minutes later. My coach wants to know how my sandwich was.
.
I tell her it was good, can I play now? She smiles, then frowns, then grabs my bag. She pulls out the sandwich. “Good, huh?”
.
That night my mom and I checked out of our hotel two days early. My coach told me she wasn’t playing me the rest of the weekend. I might as well go home.
.
The tournament was the last of the season.

My eating disorder is a psychiatrist’s office at the local hospital, 2 P.M late June 2013.

My parents wrestle me into the car today. My mom has been researching eating disorder treatment facilities. Her and my dad keep threatening to “send me away” if I don’t gain weight. They’re convinced I’m anorexic. I’ve only seen that word in textbooks and I think I heard it once on TV? But it doesn’t sound right. I’m healthy and fit.
.
I also weight less than my 11 year old sister.  I’m just finishing my freshmen year of high school, making me 14. I have no friends. I never leave the house. I eat about 200 calories a day. I stopped running, because I don’t care anymore. I cry a lot. I’ve never seen so many bones in my life. I wear my fourth grade sister’s leggings everyday, because they almost fit. I go to school and only speak when I am spoken to. I spend the days counting down the minutes until I can go back to sleep. I cringe when I wake up. Why did I have to wake up?
.
Deep down inside, this treatment idea sounds really nice. You mean I HAVE to eat? And I’ll have no choice? If I don’t eat, I’m trapped in this hospital forever? Well, that sounds like a good enough reason. I guess I can let myself eat then. And I can eat all of the foods I’ve been too scared to eat myself. Deep down, I want to go to treatment. I want to be out of control, I want someone else to force feed me because I don’t trust myself. But agreeing to treatment is giving in, giving up my clean eating and addicting lifestyle.
.
The psychiatrist looks at me. My chart. Me again.
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“Yeah, she’s anorexic alright”
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Doesn’t even make eye contact. He just glosses me over. I’m just another case.
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He tells us that most people wait weeks on a waiting list, but my condition is bad enough to get me in by tomorrow.
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TOMORROW.
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I come so close to giving in, but instead choose to put up the fight and resist. I beg my parents to take me home. I’ll eat, I’ll eat whatever you make me just promise me you won’t lock me up and send me away and forget about me and take me away from my life.
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My parents give me one last chance. We drive home. My mom makes me a sandwich and places it in front of me. But now I go back on my word. We scream and fight with each other. I refuse to eat it. I run outside and up the street in mismatched sneakers and covered in tears. I decide in that moment that I’ll just run away. My dad is screaming behind me, chasing me down the street. I have no plan, I just run. My mom is crying in the distance. I’m trying to run but I’m going to collapse any moment now. My dad tackles me and we both fall.

I could go on forever with these flashbacks. My eating disorder is a deadly place. My eating disorder was everywhere, at all times. I could tell you about my first hospital stay,  my relapse, my second inpatient admission, my next relapse, my attempted recovery, my plateau, and then my true recovery. Each step is a book in itself. I could go into detail and describe the holidays I spent screaming and crying in front of forty extend family members because my parents tried to get me to eat. Or about how embarrassed I was by my sick body and how I never left the house in fear of being seen. How I ate a Special K plain cornflake (ONE, SINGULAR) for breakfast and didn’t eat again for 12 hours. How I ran 20 miles one day on nothing but water. How often death crossed my mind. How terrorized I became by numbers, how afraid I became of food, how much hell I put myself through for a peace of mind I never got.
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Not a single day goes by that I don’t think about my past. To think that I would have easily thrown this all away makes my heart so heavy. If I had never fought like hell I would have never had this. This life. I’ve never faced anything harder in my life than recovery.
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This week, NEDA Awareness week, take the time to remind yourself how lucky you are to be alive, just the way you are. You have so much potential, so much to live for. My eating disorder came close to taking my life more times than I care to share. I would never wish my experience on my worst enemy. If you or someone you know is struggling, please, PLEASE reach out. Stop them. Stop yourself.
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Recovery CAN’T wait until tomorrow. If you don’t act today, you never will.

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