“You’re like a heffer” He said. “You’re gonna get even bigger if you keep it up” he said. His son followed with, “why dont you do some sit-ups or something?” The words plauged me and followed me to near death.
I remember certain phrases pertaining to my weight years prior, but nothing hit me like his words did.
Weeks later food had quickly transitioned into my worst enemy. My nightmare. I was overwhelmed at the idea of taking in more that 300-500 calories per day and if I didn’t walk at least 3 miles I would resort to being comforted by mountains of blankets in isolation to contemplate my disappointing lack of exercise.
My mom, my dad, my friends, my family, and therapist after therapist, no one could make me change my mind about how unhappy I was with my body and the extent I was unintentionally going to go in order to have the “perfect body” ..to have skin and bones.
Each day I would step on the scale watching the number plunge as the most painful and apathetic slothful smile would cross my face. I was losing what was killing me but gaining what would kill me.
The numbers were down but my urge to vomit even the bile laying flat in my stomach would arise at the site of my appearance in the mirror. I had become a self absorbed unhappy human being sticken with the monster they label “eating disorder.”
The anorexia slowly morphed into bulimia and food eventually became my only friend. Along with the toilet and multiple jars to hide my purges from my unknowing parents. I was lost in what became a lifestyle. Everyday I would repeat the process anywhere between 5-10 times from the moment I woke up to the time I passed out from pure exhaustion from such a, literally, draining day.
I had a hard time imagining the girl I was was versus the person I had become. I went from soccer, cross country and every other sport I could give a try at being on my mind 24/7 to a body cursed with the constant nagging fear that I am too fat and that I will never be pretty enough. “I used to be so pretty and happy and athletic” was a constant thought. But I didn’t care enough about who I used to be to change the person that made me lose sight of what I once saw as important. I only wanted to be thin. Nothing else mattered.
About 4 years ago I was immediately sent to the hospital after a visit with my therapist who showed nothing but utter shock upon my appearance. “You lost 3 pounds in a day, Stephanie.. You are going to die.” And with that I had cracked. At 91.6 pounds, I spilled tears of fear, “I don’t want to die!!!” “Mom I am so sorry,” “God please let me live.” I was having a paralyzing panic attack in my therapist’s office and I could do nothing but think of how badly, in that moment, I wanted to be better. With that, my therapist immediately called the hospital and my mom called my work. I was being admitted into the 9th floor psych ward for 2 weeks. I would soon be hospitalized with a bunch of fucking crazy people.
The first night of my stay, in the completely whited-out 9th floor room that felt like a jail cell, I had three nurses rush into my room at about 3a.m. shoving giant pills down my throat and checking my heart-rate and blood pressure. I didn’t know what the hell they were doing to me and I was too lethargic to even give a shit. I just wanted to go back to sleep.
The next morning I was escorted into my therapy session with Dr. Lemmon where another doctor would be joining us. “You were in heart-attack city last night Stephanie.. You were going to die.” Turns out the pills they were giving me were potassium pills and my levels were “unbelievably low.”
I remember hearing the doctor tell me this and I remember hardly feeling a thing in comparison to when my therapist told me I was going to die. I think this is mainly because once I arrived at the hospital and saw the people in the same unit as I was, I immediately thought everything I had been told by my therapist was complete bullshit. I wasn’t a crazy person.. Why was I here with people who were trying to throw their babies off of the bridge in downtown Augusta because a “voice told her to” and a man who would not give up on the ‘fact’ that he was Elvis reincarnated. People were sitting on their asses rocking back and forth, staring at the walls, and looking at me like they wanted to murder me. I was fucking scared and I didn’t belong there. I wanted to go home and not even 24 hours had passed.
As much as I wish it had, the visit to the psych ward did absolutely nothing for me. I still threw up in the shower during shower time and I wouldn’t dare take the pills they were giving me. I was too scared to believe they were any good for me. The only good thing about the stay was time I got to vent to Dr. Lemmon. I felt like I could tell him anything and he wouldn’t judge me for it.
Truth is, no one can fix an eating disorder apart from the person who has it. I didn’t stop with my bulimia until the day I said to myself, “no more.” and actually meant it. People will change when they want to. When they have something to change for. i had a life in mind. I wanted to become a well known artist and share my passion with people and find love along the way and I didn’t dare want my eating disorder to rob me of my potential to do just that.
This controlling disorder of what I thought gave me control has run my life for the past 7 years. I struggle everyday. I will never look at myself the way I did before this monster partnered with me on the life I am living. I am not in this alone anymore. I am no longer daily struggling with the physical aspect to this disease, but the mental aspect will never leave me. It affects just about every decision I make; from what I wear, to where I go, to what I eat, to how much I sleep, to who I allow into my life, and on and on.
I couldn’t express my gratitude for the patience my close ones have shown me throughout this experience. Especially my parents. I know I have an amazing support system that is lifting me up daily and allowing me the steps I need to take in order to one day hopefully fully overcome this 100%.
I hope one day to be as strong as I once was in knowing that I am good enough and my body is no where near the galactic bulge I see in my reflection. But for now, I promise to constantly remind myself that I am not fat, I am not a heffer, and I am not my eating disorder.