Amie's Story Anorexia Nervosa

"I just want to be skinny", I thought. Everyone else that I saw that was happy was thin too, so I figured if I lost weight, I would be happier and people would like me more-pay attention to me more. For me, it seemed like I had it all-a loving family, friends, the smarts and athletic ability. But, in my eyes that was not enough because I felt left out being deaf in a hearing world.

I have always been a sensitive, caring person and anything or every time I misunderstood someone or someone misunderstood me, or told me "never mind", I would get incredibly angry and blame myself. I was happy otherwise, but I didn't have the friends or the feeling of "worthiness" like I thought everyone else had and that made me feel different. I used anorexia to make ME feel good, in control and happy. I was such a walking contradiction-I wanted attention and people to see how seriously I took "being lonely" and being "different"-how hurt I was and instead I got them to focus on my weight and eating habits. At that time, I thought that was what I wanted and the anorexia was encouraging me to do more and more to get more and more people to comment on me. I thought I had all the power in the world. For once, everyone was jealous of me! That was what I honestly believed at that time. People would stare at me and give me looks and I had all the control in the world. Maybe I could not control when I felt left out of conversations, not having connections with people that I wished I had, but I had the control to make people pay attention to me.

I lost my best friend through anorexia (she was deaf too) but I thought SHE didn't like me anymore. It never occurred to me that she was scared for me. I used anorexia to numb out the disappointment that I felt but at the same time it gave me a high knowing "Well, if I don't want to hang out with them, I'll run for an hour." I would run, restrict, measure my food, water-load, and more of those anorexic tricks. Every hospital I went to, I learned something new for when I got out. I would always be a "good patient"-cooperate, blame the anorexia on cross-country, my parents' divorce, alcoholism in the family, and deaths in the family. These were big parts of it, but the biggest part of it was being deaf.

Eventually, I was able to trust people and my peers in the hospital and I spoke up about being deaf. I would ask them what they thought and how they felt being around me. They all loved me regardless. My self-esteem slowly went up. It took A LOT of time, trust, patience, therapy, and talking. I would get to 80 pounds at 5'7-my lowest, but it was always below 100 that I had to be since I was 14 to the age of 18. I signed myself out of a hospital once against medical advice. I was NOT going to give up my best friend that gave me what I craved.

My 18th birthday, I got hospitalized my last time (5th time) in an eating disorders unit in White Plains, NY. I was so sick of the anorexia -what came along with it-being tired, moody, fighting with everyone, but I wanted to feel better about myself. That time I did not b-s my way through therapy. I got caught exercising, I tested people's limits and I was honest with my therapist. I cried, yelled, talked to other people. I taught everyone sign language so they could communicate with me. It made me feel good and my wonderful therapist got me to see a woman who specialized in counseling deaf people and their family and that helped to get everything out in the open, how hard it is for me. I'm VERY thankful and happy to say now that I am basically recovered. I will always think about it but at least I have the ability to ignore it and beat it.

I went away to college where almost 2,000 deaf people are and I met my best friends in the whole wide world, a bunch of other great friends, deaf teachers, successful, deaf people. I found out I was not ALONE in how angry I would get at being deaf, but with my friends, I learned how to cope and speak up. Now, I am proud to tell people they have to look at me when they talk to me and I will say "What" if I need to, whereas before I would never do any of this stuff-I was embarrassed. My parents got along better after going through the separation/divorce and I finally saw and realized that.

I just basically matured, learned a lot and learned to like myself for who I am. My best friend from high school and I are closer now than ever. Now that I'm older and friends with people who are older, they understand how to treat us and that makes me feel good-treat us NORMALLY, but you just have to look at us and talk a little slower. I'm a happy 20 year old college junior with a goal of helping others cope with hardships in their life just like I had to learn how to cope. I'm determined to speak out and educate others about eating disorders and I still like to share my experience with anorexia. If it wasn't for it, I would not be who I am today- a strong, insightful, fun young woman.

Don't get me wrong, I still get jealous of people who can't give up their e.d. but I know the hell they are going through and I wouldn't wish it on anyone else. I know it is just the anorexia talking. I never knew that I would eventually binge a whole year and gain weight. I didn't think about "recovering" because I did not want to. I wish someone told me that along time ago. I had my years of being skinny so it doesn't bother me being VERY "normal" but I wish people who are just starting to get themselves into an eating disorder realize that now the short-term consequences are good, but in the long-run, no matter what- you will gain the weight back and even more to make up for how many ever years of deprivation.

Once I gained weight, and allowed myself to "party" with my friends, I got attention, fun and love from boys and that was the greatest feeling in the whole wide world. I think that is a big part too of why I will never go back to the eating disorder no life "Amie" :)I have learned so much about life, how relationships work, even how amazing highways are-stuff I never noticed or thought about or learned because 24/7 for 4 years all I thought about was calories, food, weight and "what lies I would tell today".

I think about how I have a permanent heart blockage, stretch marks, crazy thinking, the hell I put my parents through, my little brother when I would exercise in the room right next to him at 3 a.m. on a school night.... I look at the memorial pages for victims of eating disorders, and I just want to cry. Everyone deserves to get better and you can, but you just have to be honest with yourself and WANT to get better. You need a lot of patience to go through the emotional hell you will go through once you start re-feeding yourself. But, in the end, it definitely gets better.