Ann Marie's Story Anorexia & Bulimia San Diego, California

I had been a chubby, chunky, fat child my whole life. I can remember being teased horribly and wishing I could just disappear. I would lie in my bed as a child of 8 and think that I could feel myself becoming smaller and smaller, and maybe if I were lucky I would vanish. Though the thoughts of self-hatred came early, I didn't do anything about my weight until I was 18. I remember graduating from high school and thinking, "I am not going off to college like this, I am going to show up there a new person!"

It began that summer, I began starving myself. I began eating less each meal, my mother had always told me that weight control was a matter of will. She was a tiny woman, and I had always lived in her shadow. She was so proud of me, as was my father. They both cheered me on into more weight loss. They didn't realize I was slowly starving myself. My father was only home a few months out of the year, and he was only there for the first month of the summer. My mom was home, but busy with her own hobbies, and I was in the summer of my life and she thought nothing of the fact that I was out having a good time most nights of the week.

I would tell my mom that I was going to eat out with friends, and then I would tell my friends that I had eaten at home. It was perfect. I would eat as little as possible to keep me going. By the end of the summer I had lost 50 pounds and couldn't stop thinking that if only I could lose a little more, than life would be perfect.

When college started I also started exercising as well with a friend of mine. She had lost a lot of weight over the summer and we agreed that exercising would get rid of the flab and make us look even thinner. We would run every morning for a couple of miles, and then later in the day, we would meet at the gym after classes and weight train. This went on for months because my whole life revolved around my weight, I began to do poorly in school and was placed on academic probation.

Around Christmas, I picked up the bulimia side of my eating disorder. The cookies and all that good holiday food were too much for me to stave off. I had to eat some of it, and when I started I couldn't stop. That season, I began sticking my fingers down my throat to get rid of all the filth I had put inside of me. I was so good at it, by the time school resumed in January, I could throw up by just leaning over and thinking about it. I didn't really start eating though, now I was hooked on the thought that anything that I ate, whether good or bad, had to come out. I was eating yogurt for breakfast, and apple and a few crackers for lunch, and jelly sandwiches, or soup for dinner, on a typical day. Of course I did have the days that I had to eat anything and everything in sight. All of it would be purged out. No matter what it was, or how much or little I had eaten. The only things I didn't purge were water, and diet soda.

It went on for what seemed like a lifetime. I was beginning to lose feeling in my fingers, and my heart would race. I was dizzy, and unaware of things at times, and would lose my vision for 30 or so seconds. No one ever said a thing to me, even when I was extremely skinny and looking sickly. My grades only got worse and worse and in the end I dropped out. My whole life was my eating disorder, what I ate, and where to purge.

One morning I woke up and went to the bathroom to get ready for the day. I looked in the mirror and was scared by the sight of the person looking back. I actually looked over my shoulder to see if there was someone else in the bathroom with me. My face was sunken, my skin was pale and clammy, my hair which was once thick looked stringy, My eyes had deep, dark circles under them.

I went for help that same day, it took 2 1/2 years of psychotherapy, but I was able to stop myself from throwing up my food. It has been 7 years since recovery. I haven't had any relapses, though I do think about it occasionally, especially on those days that I am feeling fat. No matter how good other people tell me I look, I always feel like I could look better, meaning if I were only thinner. I know the thoughts will never be gone, I just hope that I can continue to fight against the demons in my head, the ones that try to tell me that I am still that fat little girl. All I want is to learn to truly love myself for who I am.

Ann Marie, age 29