Food and Nutrition

Eating Disorders

Below is a true story from an anonymous teen with an eating disorder.

I developed an eating disorder when I was 13, but exhibited traits at an even younger age. I remember hiding my vitamins at age 6. I hid them because I was afraid I would become hungry, eat more and gain weight. I think I was predisposed to have an eating disorder no matter what happened around me.

At age 15, I was officially diagnosed with anorexia. It started off as a simple diet – just taking diet pills and eating healthier. As a result, I lost 20 lbs. I remember stepping on the scale one day and seeing the numbers drop below my original goal. I felt terrified of what was happening to me. I figured since I went below my goal, I didn't need to "diet" anymore. But in my mind, I couldn’t go back to my old ways because I feared gaining the weight back. So I continued the "dieting" and lost even more weight. I had officially lost control.

My life has not been easy. I won't go into the details, but my eating disorder became out of control because of all the stress. I started purging when I was 16. I had a bulimic friend that showed me how, and it went all downhill from there. I began bingeing and purging every day until I became sick of food – but I couldn't stop. So I began purging every little thing I ate and lost so much weight that I was officially considered emaciated.

At that time, I became really depressed and wanted to die. So, I told a friend, and she told the State. The State recommended that I receive therapy and a mentor. So, I started going to therapy and had weekly weigh-ins at my doctor's office. Over a period of five months, nothing changed.

I had managed to stablilize my weight, but I wasn't gaining or improving. So, I checked into a mental hospital and was there for a month. They said I had to gain 20 lbs while I was there. I didn't eat for the first week so I lost even more weight and they put a feeding tube in me. I fought and screamed at them, but I just couldn't win. It's amazing how much strength adrenaline gives you. It took four nurses to hold me down. I just lost it and started crying as they put the tube down my throat. Then, I just decided to eat. For the rest of my stay, I ate three meals and two snacks a day and returned to a healthy weight.

When I came home, it was challenging. I had no support and no healthy meals planned out for me. So I did the only thing I knew how to do to maintain my weight: I binged and purged. After awhile, that wore me out and my heart wasn't in it. I am anorexic so bingeing for me was torture. So I went back to restricting and purging. That is where I am today.

I am about to be hospitalized again. I honestly did want to get better and live my life but I don't have a lot of support other than the hospital, so it was easy for me to slip back. I think the moment I got that feeding tube inserted was the moment of reality for me. It was official that things were out of control – I couldn't eat or hardly drink at all for fear of weight and water gain. I promised myself that would never happen again. I am very scared about being fully recovered and having to live at a healthy weight. To me, that is giving up my control fully. I know I am not ready for that. But I am taking steps towards it. I am afraid of never finding another healthy mechanism to cope with as good as purging makes me feel. I am also afraid of never beating this and living as an anorexic in and out of hospitals all my life. I am just afraid of what the future holds.

My life right now is hectic and stressful which is why I suspect I returned to my old ways. But I am going back to the hospital and hopefully, I can maintain my healthy weight for longer this time. I know that when I eat right and feel good my distorted image of myself goes away, and I can really see myself for who I am. I am still thin at 110 lbs. It makes me wonder what I looked like at 85-80 lbs. My story has not ended. I have not recovered. I am struggling each and every day. But I am making steps and to me, that is a big accomplishment compared to where I was.

Does this sound familiar to you?

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an illness that involves having an extreme desire to be thin. The key elements of anorexia nervosa are: a refusal to keep body weight at a healthy level, an intense fear of being fat and a distorted body image. Many teens with anorexia stop having their periods or don’t get it on a regular schedule. If you think you might be struggling from anorexia, get with a trusted friend and confess. Get the help you need.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Physical
Emotional
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low body temperature
  • Brittle hair and finger nails
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin & dehydration
  • Growth of lanugo (soft furry hair on face, back & arms)
  • Amenorrhea (menstrual period stops)
  • Slow or stunted growth
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Distorted body image
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawal from friends & activities
  • Thinking about food most of the time
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