Kristen's Story Anorexia/Bulimia New Jersey

I come from a dysfunctional family. The relatives on my mother's side of the family always looked down on us because we weren't wealthy as they were; the relatives on my father's side disliked my sister and myself from the days of our births because neither of us were boys to "carry on the family name." I will not give the entire family history, but my early years were basically filled with fear and violence, both verbal and physical. When I was ten my parents finally got divorced, after years of court battling, using my sister and myself as pawns in their fights. My father and my sister moved to the next state, leaving my mother and myself with the house. My mother had basically biased me against my father. On top of everything, she was an alcoholic. After a while, I became more compulsive about almost everything. It didn't help when my mother berated me, when the kids at school were nasty to me. I was always a withdrawn child, and living alone with an alcoholic made me even more so.

When I was eleven, in seventh grade, I started to diet. I picked the worst time because I was in the middle of a growth spurt, but I didn't care. By the time I was twelve, a few months later, I was 79 or 80 pounds. My father's relatives told me how great I was looking that way. Everyone else tried to convince me that I was too thin. I never listened. A few months after my twelfth birthday, I gave in to my friends' pleas and started to eat, but I was so obsessed with being thin that I made myself throw up.

By the next year, I no longer needed to use a toothbrush or my hand to make myself throw up; I could do it easily. When I was almost sixteen, a junior in high school, I weighed about 105 pounds. For my height, it was normal, but I was still bulimic. (My classmates all thought that I had recovered from anorexia, and had forgotten. My attitudes and mood swings, my withdrawing from society, were normal for me. I was always bookish and shy.)

I am now a seventeen years old senior in high school. My mother is still an alcoholic. From the time I was ten until early last year I was suicidal. I am still bulimic, but I am honestly trying to recover. I am going to college in September, and I have a lot to work on before I get there.

I still have the body of a twelve-year-old, but there is no way I can grow taller, so I have resigned myself to that. My glands are so swollen I look healthy, even overweight (another cause for my prolonged bulimia.) I have heart palpitations constantly, and I have trouble breathing. Worst of all, my teeth are almost completely destroyed after five years of bulimia. Also, as a result of my constant purging, the discs in my jaw dislocated and I have what some people call TMJ. That doesn't help my teeth. I have a dentist appointment to "fix" my teeth, and I have to find some way to pay for surgery on my jaw. That is the result of my eating disorders.

Bulimia has kept me immature in many ways, but it has also made me older than my years. I find myself watching my classmates, how they don't even hide the way they pig out and stay skinny. When one of my classmates was anorexic last year, all I heard was "She lost a little too much weight." Nobody wanted to admit the obvious. Eating disorders are so common, but they are usually ignored. The worst is when I once had to sit through a section on eating disorders in my psychology class last year. If eating disorders are not ignored, they are mocked. People pointed and laughed at the documentary-I am thankful there was no guest speaker-and even the teacher had some comments. Thank you for the opportunity to tell some of my story.