Contributor: Kat Watson, reader contribution for Eating Disorder Hope
Disorder – A Young Woman’s Journey to Recovery
Waking up isn’t an obstacle for me to face every morning- it’s sleeping that’s my problem. As if my nights count as sleeping. Tossing, turning, shivering, and slipping in and out of dreams. Not even five blankets and a heating pad can warm my body into a comfortable state.
I slip into my old gymnastics sweatshirt and jeans my mom bought me last month. The waistband is at least two inches too large.
One Year Ago-
“Lilly, will you come into my office after practice today?”
“Of course, Coach!” While most kids would dread a meeting with Coach, my mood is instantly boosted. Coach is like my second mom, and I respect her so much.
“Ok Lil, I’m gonna be straight with you. Your weight is becoming a problem. It’s inhibiting your talent.”
I’m at a loss for words. Since when was my weight even a problem? I’ve always been tall and big-boned…but I eat normal…. But suddenly, my mind is flooded with memories of “treating” myself everyday, waking up at midnight to sit in the pantry and eat…
Right then is when I decided to make Coach proud. One year, 20 pounds smaller. I can do it.
The smell of scrambled eggs makes me nauseous as I slump down the stairs. I grab my keys and slip into the garage, but before I can reverse out; my mom is there, knocking on the car window.
“I’m getting you out of school early today.” She says.
“Why? I have a test in fifth period!”
“You have an appointment. See you then.”
Nine Months Ago-
Ten pounds down, ten to go. I work out everyday on top of gymnastics; I refrain from eating certain foods. I’ve already begun to receive compliments from people.
Six Months Ago-
“Lily, I don’t understand. You’re back at a healthy weight and your routines look great. Why quit now?”
“Sorry Coach, my heart’s just not in it anymore.” What I’m not telling her is that it’s a complete waste of my time. Standing on that stupid beam doesn’t burn any calories. The weight isn’t gonna lose itself.
A or C. A or C. A or C. I give up, choosing B. I also neglect to check the darn test over, because I’m sure my mother will be here any minute. I get up to turn it in up front.
Suddenly, black spots flood my vision.
My legs and arms tingle, as if I’m floating. All I did was stand up and it feels as if I’m about to fall over. I hear my teacher’s voice, “Lilly, your mother is here,” and I drift out the door before my vision completely fails me.
Three Months Ago-
February 16th: I stick to eating my “safe” foods. Exercise. More strenuous exercising.
Sterile, white walls, glass doors, and an excessive amount of air conditioning. I absolutely detest the doctor’s office.
“Mom why am I here? I had a checkup on my last birthday.”
“You’re seeing a different doctor today, Lil. I think you’ll like her a lot better.”
“Lily Martin?” A young-looking nurse asks, surveying the room.
“That’s me.” She leads me down the hall, making small talk until we reach the scale.
“Okay, lets check your height and weight.” I brace myself, waiting for my mother’s disapproving look. The nurse seems concerned over the weight change from the past year.
One Week Ago-
“Mom stay out of my business! I have good grades and never get into trouble. What else do you want from me?” I haven’t yelled at her like this in months.
“Honey, I just want you to be healthy. You can’t be this unhappy forever. It won’t kill you if you treat yourself every once in a while at least.”
It won’t kill me, really mom? I’ve worked this hard and you want me to just relapse like a junkie that was drug-free for a year? Fine.
Right when I hear my parents’ snores, I walk downstairs, straight into the kitchen. Where do I start…Ice cream. Cookies. Chips. Leftovers. Soda. I eat and drink it all. After awhile, I have to stop. My stomach is responding by sending sharp pains all across my abdomen. Immediately, I’m filled with guilt on top of all those calories. Why didn’t I just stay upstairs?
There is a way for me to start fresh. I crawl to the bathroom and try to find a way to rid my body of it all…
The exact moment the nurse walks out the door, my mom starts ranting.
“Lilly, seriously? You’re barely even alive! Thank god I took you here. The eating disorder specialist is sure going to have plenty to say to you…
That’s when my brain wakes up. Did she say eating disorder? Those things we read about in magazines and growing-up books, full of warnings- starvation, vomiting, extreme weight loss, etc.
I push myself up off the cheap patient seat, turn toward the full-length mirror, and take a good look. When did my collarbones begin to stick out this far? How did I neglect to notice the bluish-purple bags under my eyes? At what point did my cheeks sink in so deep, and my stomach become hollow?
When did I get an eating disorder?
I wake up; not cold, hateful, or sad- I wake up happy. Maybe because it’s my 17th birthday, or maybe because I’ve come so far.
I won’t sugarcoat it- recovering from the life I was living was even harder than living it in the first place. There were days I refused to get up, fun events I repeatedly skipped, and nights where crying myself to sleep seemed like the only option. But slowly, I got better. I realized, I can eat three meals with snacks in between and not gain weight. I discovered working out everyday is just too much for my body, especially in the state it was in. Sometimes I look in the mirror and feel unsatisfied, but I remind myself not to be.
At first, the doctor recommended a nutritionist AND a therapist, (which I repeatedly refused) but my therapist Jane is one of the best people I’ve ever met. When I visit her every month, we usually talk much longer than the allotted hour.
But back to today. I literally jump out of bed, pulling on the cutest outfit I can find, and bounce downstairs; skipping every other step. Waltzing into the kitchen, my senses are satisfied by my absolute favorite breakfast- chocolate-chip pancakes. And the day is just beginning.
“Blow out the candles!”
“Make a wish!”
“Hurry up, I want a piece!!”
I’m adorned with the dorkiest “birthday girl” hat and surrounded by the people I love. I look at the candles, all 17 of them, and think of a wish. What else could I want? I’m blessed with amazing family, friends and a healthy future.
Despite the cheesiness of it all, I close my eyes, gather as much oxygen in my lungs as possible, and make the best wish I can conjure up. I blow out the candles, while thinking- “I wish that anyone who is going through what I went through survives. Because I did.”
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 31st, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com