Hi folks! 🙂
I had been saving up this post from the very beginning when I started this blog. I always intended on publishing it. Then, Facebook notified me that a few of my friends had liked my page.
Talk about stage fright!
How could I spill one of my biggest challenges in my life, knowing that people I know personally might read it?
*gulp* Here we go…
I have a confession…
I want you to know that if you are like me, you are not alone.
I almost lost my fertility, my sanity, and my life.
Not to some outside force, but to myself.
It’s hard for me to talk about, even now since I’ve been in remission, so to speak, for nearly two years.
It’s easy to say, “Well, I didn’t get as bad as that person, so it wasn’t really that bad.” It’s easy to downplay the whole thing because I didn’t drop all of the weight that I wanted to. It’s easy to compare and say that I didn’t do a good enough job at being anorexic because of x,y or z reason.
It’s hard to say, “I need help.” It’s hard to look in the mirror and see what other people see. It’s hard to face what I have done to my body.
Here is my story…
The morning of my eighth grade graduation I put on a teal dress with a sash that tied around the waist. It was very pretty.
I had lost a lot of weight in preparation for this graduation ceremony. But, it still wasn’t enough for me. I ate about 250 calories worth of food that day. By the time the graduation ceremony rolled around, I felt ravenously hungry. Somehow that made me feel better. That even if I did have more weight to drop, this was enough for today.
We all walked across the stage, sang the songs we were supposed to, and as soon as the prayer was over, we exited the sanctuary…
Except, I don’t remember that…
I fell to the floor at the doorway out of the sanctuary.
I couldn’t see. I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t breath. My chest felt strange. I felt like my muscles had turned into jello.
By other people’s accounts, I was taken to another room and a nurse who was in attendance took my blood pressure and pulse, both of which were very low. My mother was questioned; the nurse was asking if I had blood sugar problems or any heart conditions.
I awoke to the sound of someone asking if they should call an ambulance. Frightened and confused, I tried to sit up and once again my vision was lost and I couldn’t hear. I tried to say, “I want to go outside.” Someone must have understood me, because I was carried to the porch and sat on the steps.
Once I became alert enough, I asked that an ambulance not be called. I told everyone I must have locked my knees during the graduation and made myself sick.
“There is nothing to be concerned about.” I lied.
But there was.
For nearly a year, I had kept my BMI at 15.0. To put that in perspective, 18.5 is the bottom limit for a normal weight.
I was malnourished, underweight, and flirting with death.
- My ribs could be seen through my clothing, so I took to wearing loose shirts.
- My hips were skin stretched across bone, so I wore baggy pants.
- I was always cold and had grown lanugo (white, fuzzy hair) in order to compensate for my inability to keep warm.
- I developed secondary amenorrhea (loss of period) for at least six months.
- My skin started falling off in gray colored pieces (a sign of a protein deficiency).
- My nails began developing strange curves and ridges, if they hadn’t chipped and broken already, from my various vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
- My belly became swollen and tender to the touch.
- My hair started falling out.
Then, one day, my body started using my muscles for fuel. It was excruciatingly painful, but it still didn’t feel like I’d lost enough weight.
Fast forward to the end of that summer at a VBS I was helping teach at. I sat in the corner finishing a child’s craft that they had left there. I looked up as the door opened and closed.
In front of me stood a man who looked rather thin and probably around college age. He was soft-spoken and shy. He asked for the pastor and I fetched him for the young man.
After a while of taking care of the children, I noticed that he had disappeared. I went back to my teaching and made a mental note to ask who he was.
I never got around to it.
That fall, I had gained a little more weight. My BMI was around 16.5, and I was unhappy about it. I had begun a new job at an ice cream shop and got an employee discount.
That’ll make anyone gain some weight, even an anorexic!
I looked forward to the days I worked because my meal for the day was always a cup of cappuccino chunky chocolate ice cream.
I often worked Tuesdays, and when I would get off work, I would buy some ice cream and my parents would drive me home right before I had to leave to go to history study at church.
I changed clothing (because who wants to show up to class with a cheesy pink hat and an apron covered in malt and birthday cake ice cream splatters?) and walked to class.
I walked in feeling particularly tired, so I grabbed a cup of coffee from the kitchen before making my way to the classroom. I sipped on my black coffee as I stepped through the doorway.
I looked up in surprise at the young man who was sitting in my seat. It was the same man who I had met during the summer. He smiled. I sat across the way from him and stared at the bubbles on the top of my coffee.
The weeks went by and we began talking after class. He was nice. It didn’t seem real.
I told him about the boy who tried to hit me at school. He told me I didn’t deserve that.
I told him about the people who yelled and cussed at me. He said that wasn’t okay.
I told him I wasn’t hungry. He made me homemade food and fed me anyways.
Then one sunny Sunday afternoon after church, we sat under a tree and talked.
I told him I was concerned about a friend. That I thought she was sick. That she was eating about 300 calories a day. That she’d lost her period.
“Will she be okay?” I asked, terrified of what he’d say.
He gave me a BMI formula. He asked me to put in her information and he’d let me know.
He asked some questions.
He knew there was no friend. He knew I was sick. Very sick.
He worked with me on what I felt when I tried to eat. He helped me work on eating more often and larger portions. He told me that food wasn’t bad. He said I wasn’t fat.
Then, when I was safely at a healthy BMI, he said, “You need to choose a reason to stay at a healthy weight. You need something to motivate you to work for this.”
I was supposed to think about it over the week and get back with him.
It took me all of the week to work on. I knew it had to be something I would want more than anything else, including being a certain weight.
The week went by in a blink of an eye.
We sat down on the steps of the church and he said, “So, have you decided?”
“I want a baby someday. I don’t want to have already lost my chance at that.” I cried as I spoke.
He told me he couldn’t say for sure how much damage I had already done in the two years beforehand, but that he was hopeful that I would someday be well enough to have a child.
That man is now my husband. That baby I wanted is our son. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.
New Crunchy Mom