Emily's Story Anorexia and Bulimia

I was 10 years old the first time I thought that I needed to lose weight. My family and I (Mom, Dad and younger sister) were on a ski trip with another family(mother, father and 10 year old son). We were all getting fitted for skis and boots and the store associate fitted us asked what I weighed and my mom told him. I heard the mother of the other family tell the associate what her son weighed and at 10 years old I weighed a little more than a 10 year old boy so the message that I chose to believe was that "I am fat, and I am inadequate." The inadequate part was already becoming a part of my identity because of the way some of the kids in my fifth grade class treated me, but the fat part was all new. This is the first memory I have of thinking I needed to lose weight, however my eating disorder behavior did not start until my Sophomore year of college.

Middle school was a very hard time for me. I had glasses and braces and in 6th and 7th grade went through a very awkward stage and my peers did a good job of making those two years a living hell. I am now 21 but I still cringe when I think about some of the mean things that other kids did to me during those years. I was a good athlete. I was extremely good at basketball and that was the only time the cool kids would be semi-nice to me. In the 8th grade I transferred schools to a Christian school and began to come out of my awkward looking phase. I got contacts and got my braces off. You'd think that this would give me some confidence, but my self-esteem was still damaged. I made many friends and was never thought of there as the "nerd" I was at my old school but deep down I still felt a strong sense of inadequacy and a deep fear of rejection. Through this time I thought about my weight and believed that I would be much happier and my life would be perfect if I could get to an unnaturally thin size but I never went to extremes.

I continued on with basketball in high school. I went in and out of times with being obsessed with my body size. Most of the time I was obsessed and always had a new "diet" plan. The end of my junior year I met my first serious boyfriend and we started dating. We fell in love and dated until the middle of my Freshman year in college. The obsession about my body size diminished some during this time because I felt so loved and accepted by him. I broke up with him so I could find out if we were really meant for each other, plus I was in college and I wanted some college dating experience.

After I broke up with my boyfriend I became very, very depressed. All I did was stay in my room and cry. I never went out and I never ate. My friends got worried and one night they insisted that I go to a party with them, so I did. This was the start of my wild freshman phase. I went and got completely trashed and spent the night with some guy that I didn't know(didn't sleep with, just spent the night). I partied every weekend after this. I was anything but careful about what I did and where I was. I was sexually assaulted a couple of times this semester and basically just went way out of control as far as partying too much.

Another important thing that happened the beginning of my freshman year was I met my best friend at college, Michelle. Michelle and I had a great times together. We were both pretty immature and YES we both had body image issues. We started exercising every night in our dorm rooms(usually together). We never missed a night. We tried new diets but never lost weight. My freshman year ended.

Michelle and I decided to room together in an apartment for sophomore year.

Sophomore year started. Michelle and I had a pretty good year. We slowed down some on the partying and really had a good year except for the whole eating thing. We tried every diet in the book. Nothing worked. My the end of the year we were restricting all day long and then bingeing at nights. One night Michelle bought some Correctol(laxatives) and took some and told me to try some. She did and I did. I was sooo sick and thought I would never take those things again, but low and behold I changed my mind when I looked at the scale the very next morning and my weight had gone down!!!! I didn't even think about the fact that my body had just been depleted of all water and minerals, I just KNEW that I was thinner because that is what the scale(my God at the time) said. Michelle and I both went home for the summer(each to separate places) and continued. When I arrived home from school in May I was very depressed because instead of losing weight I had gained weight(about 5-7 pounds). I was horrified because Michelle's scale was wrong and I was even fatter than I thought!! My mom and sister and dad noticed that I had put on a few pounds and there are things they said that still replay in my mind even though it has been close to two years now. My mother and I went shopping one day because I needed some clothes that weren't so "tight on my butt." We several things, lots of shirts and then it came time to find some pants. Mom and I got in an argument about what size to get. She wanted me to get the bigger size and I wanted to get the smaller size because I WAS GOING to lose weight. She said, "FINE, but you better lose weight if I get this small size!!! Then and there I decided I had no inhibitions when it came to weight loss. I began exercising pretty compulsively and watching what I ate very carefully and taking laxatives. I was addicted to laxatives within weeks. I was always having to rush to the bathroom at work. It was hard because that summer I worked at a preschool and there were times that I really thought I was going to die. I lost weight over the summer and by end of the summer my mom was becoming worried because she thought I was losing to much weight(I lose about 15 over the summer). The summer ended.

My junior year began. Michelle and I lived with two other girls. It was a four bedroom apartment and Michelle and I shared a bathroom and the other two girls shared a bathroom. I decided that HAD to stop taking Correctol when I went back to school. So I stopped taking them the week before I went back to school and then the first week or two of school I was Correctol free. I managed to do this because I would only put minimal amounts of food in my body. I was sooo mad at myself because I didn't have my trampoline to jump on for exercise and I just couldn't freaking RUN!! I tried and tried but it was so painful that I just had to walk. I felt guilty for not exercising as much as I did over the summer -.after all I had not missed a day in over three months and once class started I started to miss days of exercise!!!!! FAT Emily!!! That is what I would tell myself. All the girls at school noticed that I had lost weight and of course complimented me as girls do. Not many guys noticed that that bothered me, so I just had to lose until it was impossible to people to NOT notice!!!!

As I got into my classes, I realized that I could not concentrate!!! No matter how HARD I tried I could not. Duh!!!! I had no brain fuel. My parents eventually found out that I had an eating disorder because one day I took 30 Correctols and I friend took me to the ER and the bill went to mom and dad. Mom and dad actually knew before that but that made them really wake up. They sent me to a treatment center for 8 days to get me "well." I was well for about 3 weeks and then got right back into it because I was still so committed to losing weight. I didn't realize at this time that wanting to lose weight was a problem. I was already slightly underweight but didn't see it. First semester of my junior year ended and I did not return to school.

I went home for Christmas and it was not good. My laxative abuse quickly turned into bingeing and purging. Once the vicious cycle started it became completely out of control. One of my best friends from high school(Alexis) was bulimic and I saw how much faster she was losing weight by throwing up. We then became "partners in crime." We went out to eat together. We spent the night at each others house and stayed up eating and throwing up. Doesn't that just sound like fun? Well it was fun to us because we were both so screwed UP!. After a couple of months Alexis went to treatment and did better for a while. I now had to be bulimic alone, but that was fine. It was my fun. Thinking about that I was going to get to eat and it not mattering because all I had to do was get rid of it and I could just keep on getting thinner and thinner! What a great plan. It backfired in many ways. I got a professional job and I am glad that it did not effect my work performance. I would work all day and then save the bulimic behavior for nighttime. So most of the time it was anorexic in the day and bulimic from 6:00 on. My parent continued to worry about me. I went to therapy off and on and we had a few family sessions and I began to see how scared and broken hearted my mother was. I realized how much my family really did love me. I loved and still do love them but at the time I just loved my eating disorder a way) more.

I decided around April that I needed to go back to school because living at home with mom and dad was keeping me from being independent and that is what I needed in order to recover or so I thought. In May I went back to school and took a May term class and then a Summer I class. I had A LOT of free time on my own and I also lived alone. Bulimia became a part of my life in a way that I never believed that it could. I went to class for 2 hours a day and then ate and threw up most of the other hours. Every once in a while I'd go out with friends, but mainly I just ate and threw up. I went to therapy but I was so deep that nothing really helped. BY the beginning of July my parents approached me with the opportunity to go in-patient. I was at my lowest weight and they were scared. I was unhappy and sick of being in the vicious cycle and just wanted to be taken care of.

Off I went to treatment. I learned many things in treatment. Physically I learned that I really could eat a substantial amount of food and get to a healthy weight and maintain that weight. I learned ways to deal with stress. I identified my triggers. I even made a lot of friends who were sooo much like myself. I was there from July 7, 1999 to the end of September. I left treatment scared but still knowing that I could do it.

I lasted 5 days after treatment until I was right into the vicious cycle again. I struggled sooo hard for about 2 months with being deep into the bulimia. I threw up everyday multiple times a day.

About two months ago my parents and I had a family session with me and my therapist. I goal was to be in school this spring. My parents had requirements in order for me to go back. I was faced with reality. I went to the dentist and there again I faced reality. I became sad and angry and sick of what my eating disorder had robbed from me in less than two years. I realized that I would not be able to accomplish my goals if I continued to be so entrenched in this eating disorder. I began to deeply resent my bulimia. I made specific recovery goals for myself. I made a pretty far-fetched goal. When I made the goal I was bingeing and purging daily and after making the goal which was pretty strict, my recovery turned around. The first few days I just surrounded myself with people and went places I didn't want to go just to avoid my eating disorder behavior. Getting days under my belt became easier and easier. Then I would slip and fall for a few days and then pick myself up. I ended up reaching my goal which I MADE myself believe I could attain. That was a week ago that I reached it. That gave me some confidence but I am still struggling but in a different spot. I get so scared that I am going to fall way back again and at times I still feel like I fall way back but so far I have been able to pick myself up and I just pray that I will continue to be able to do that. Thanks for reading and God bless.