After looking at all the other moving stories shared here, I feel like this is so minor. However, when looking, I didn’t see anyone else that is struggling with or has struggled with what I do. So that being said, I am very open about my story, and if I can reach out to one person and be that woman that someone can relate to, then I figure it is worth sharing!
Hi! My name is Whitney, and I am in recovery for anorexia. I have always been the thin “twiggy” girl. As a pre-teen, I was constantly picked on for being so thin. I was bullied horribly in middle school, being called anorexic and bulimic, two things I NEVER was. I was naturally thin. I could out eat the football team and not gain 1 oz. High school was better because it seemed like something clicked with my peers, and they saw this was just the way God made me.
I graduated and became a hair designer. As I started to creep up in age, my body started to slowly change. I was no longer the girl that could get the XS or size 00. I was blossoming into a woman. I was a little uncomfortable with the change, but just chalked it up to me “growing up.” Then September 11th happened, and I started to develop anxiety. I had panic attacks and anxiety so bad I had to go to a therapist and start on antidepressants.
I got pregnant with my beautiful daughter at the age of 22. On my 23rd birthday, when I was 8 months pregnant, my family received devastating news. My 19-year-old brother was diagnosed with leukemia and had an 11% chance of survival. My world came crashing down. I am the only daughter and oldest of 3. My family is so close, so to get this news was a nightmare. But by the grace of God and my brother’s determination to fight, he went into remission and has been cancer-free for 9 years.
When he was sick, something hit me. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t do anything. I was helpless. My daughter was born a month later, healthy and all. I carried her in my tummy, so that cute belly I once had was now covered with stretch marks. This was disturbing to me. Her father reassured me that those were my marks of pride and to be proud.
So let’s skip ahead 3 years. In the meantime, I was pre-pregnancy weight immediately after delivery and maintained it within 5-10 lbs, fluctuating. I am 5’8 and averaged 155 lbs. Then I got pregnant with my son, and that’s when my eating disorder started. Crazy huh? I have a severe fear of vomitting (emetophobia, you can look it up 😉 ) I was so deathly nauseated. I decided if I didn’t eat, then I couldn’t get sick. Mind you, this pregnancy was completely different than the one with my daughter. I was 155 lbs when I got pregnant with him.
As the months rolled on, I “learned” how to be anorexic. It became a lifestyle. I dropped down to 135 lbs. I did have diabetes, and that is where this weight came from, not to mention the healthy weight I was at when I got pregnant gave him the nutrients he needed to develop (fat storage, etc). My doctor said I’d be lucky to have a 5 lb child. He weighed in at 8 lbs, 6 oz, and he was healthy. I continued with my eating disorder. I would count out calories and refused to eat in public. I would use diuretics and laxatives if I did eat to “lose the calories/weight.” I restricted myself to only 500 calories a day. I had it down pat. I had my rituals. I was in control, or so I thought.
I slipped into postpartum depression. My family noticed and had what I call an intervention with me. I couldn’t afford a treatment facility, so I made due with a PCP, psychologist, and psychiatrist. I got down to 109 lbs. But I wanted more. It became a game. Let’s see how low I can get. I would cry when looking at myself in the mirror because I saw a nasty, fat, stretched out, ugly being. I was ultimately disgusted. Then came the failure of my marriage. That sparked even more. So many other things in my life were out of control, but I had my anorexia I could hold onto. I could control that. It wouldn’t hurt me. This is what I told myself. If you’re familiar with ED, then you know you hear a voice–more like an evil conscience–not like a schizophrenic.
I hit bottom. I was now a single mom. No one wanted me, nor would they ever, because I was no good. I then started cutting to relieve my emotional pain. Looking back, that’s truly when I hit rock bottom. At this time, I had been diagnosed as anorexic with anxiety/panic disorder and body dysmorphia. I was at 107 lbs. That’s the lowest I got. My doctor threatened to admit me with a feeding tube if I didn’t start to gain. My parents came and raided my home. I had to give them all my laxatives and diuretics. It was to the point I would only drink Ensure, and I had to have a “babysitter” when I drank it to make sure I followed through and didn’t try to get rid of it.
This seems like so much, and you may be asking, “Well where are the kids?” This was/is my dirty secret. My children are my life. They thrived, and I continued to take very good care of them. They were never in harm’s way, that is, unless I dropped dead from a heart attack or other debilitating illness that my ED had brought on because of my body being so malnourished. They are beautiful, healthy, and intelligent little people. I failed to take care of myself, but I promise my babies were well looked after.
I am 5 years out now. This illness is very familiar to that of an alcoholic/drug addict. I take baby steps, one day at a time. Do I still struggle? Heck yea! I’m trying to keep moving forward. I fear that my daughter will one day encounter these issues. Look at our society and how they portray everyone. I’m 31, and I struggle. Why wouldn’t a teen girl?
I have fought like a girl. I could’ve easily given up a long time ago, but I knew I had 2 people who needed me. I am now remarried to an amazing man. He doesn’t quite understand my illness, but he is very supportive and willing to become informed so he knows how to handle me. I will still have my down moments, but seeing all of these amazing stories, I KNOW I can FIGHT like a girl and come out on top. Thank you for reading my story. Blessings to you. <3
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.