Annaclaire's Story Anorexia Nervosa

My name is Annaclaire and I have been a recovering anorexic for three years. I struggled with my ED for close to nine years. My parents sent me and my two siblings to boarding school. My father is in the Army and was stationed all over the world so they thought it would provide us with some stability. Little did they know that it would start me down a road that would lead us all to hell and back. I went to my first boarding school in Spain when I was 10 years old, I was born in America and I lived there until I went to this school. Needless to say, it caused a lot of chaos. A lot of the older girls were obsessed with their weight and an alarming number of them were openly anorexic and bulimic. I worshipped the ground they walked on and decided that what I need to do to become like them was to do exactly what they did.

The first meal I would skip would be mandatory snack time. This was when all the kids in the school would meet in the dining hall and have an apple or some carrot sticks or a muffin and juice, generally healthy stuff. I noticed some girls would take their snacks in their rooms, I came up with my own conclusion as to what they were doing with their snacks and came up with my own plan. I got a hold of some plastic bags and started hiding my snacks in there. They would start to rot eventually and I would throw them away when no one was looking. Next went half of breakfast. I would only drink a half-cup of juice and half of an apple. I joined the gymnastics team, which turned out to be a big mistake. There isn't much you can hide when you are in a leotard, I worried I was chubby, I worried I had cellulite, I worried that my thighs would jiggle when I competed. I stopped eating lunch. Eventually I got careless with my snack time disposal and the housemother smelled the rotting fruit and found it. My parents were called in, I got THE LECTURE. I was twelve years old and counting every calorie that passed my lips. I developed a wild streak and started doing everything I could to get kicked out. I had the idea that if I could go home, I would have more privacy in which to diet in. The day after I turned thirteen I sneaked out(to buy brownies, if you can believe my stupidity), and I got caught. I was kicked out the next day. I was thrilled. I thought, "Finally, I can start my real diet". I never counted on the Army sending my dad away again. On to school number two.

I was promptly enrolled in an all-girls Catholic school just outside of London while my father was stationed in Germany. I don't know if any of you have ever gone to an all girls school, but the bitchiness and cattiness is unbelievable. I sought out a girl whom everyone told me was a diet queen and I made it my mission to befriend her. Linnie was 15, 2 years older than me at that time, and had been in 4 different hospitals for her ED's. With a partner in crime I learned everything I could about anorexia. I did my homework, read all the books, went to all the websites, devoured magazines with ED articles, and became somewhat of an expert. I wouldn't say that it was a conscious decision to become an anorectic, but its something I had considered. It just kinda happened.

I had always been weird about food and to say that I was a picky eater was an understatement. When I was little and I had first learned to count over a hundred I began counting food. I ate 200 cheerios at breakfast. No more, no less. If it was fruit loops, it was 180. I counted my vegetables, my fruit slices, my bites the number of chews it took me to chew, the number of sips it took me to drink a glass of water. And that was before I became a serious anorexic.

As a child I refused to eat: pork, hamburger meat, any type of white sauces (sour cream, mayonnaise, salad dressing, French onion dip, etc), broccoli, tomatoes, pies, potatoes, etc. When I got to the London school, I started adding to my list of uneatable foods; Steak (too fatty and to filling), Rice (too white), cottage cheese ( too fatty and too white), soda (too much sugar), desserts (too complicated, too fatty), casseroles of any kind (it was too hard to tell what all was in them, therefore I couldn't count all the calories in them), I refused most all bread items, sandwich bread, muffins, pastries, cereal, etc. My diet was rapidly becoming smaller and smaller.

I joined the tennis team, the gymnastic team and began running in the mornings. I started a more stringent diet: Breakfast: half an apple and a cup grapefruit juice. Lunch: half of a boneless skinless chicken breast and either carrot sticks or a cup of green veggies and I drank 3 cups of water. Dinner: a small salad without dressing and exactly ¹ of a portion of whatever the main dish was. I generally drank as much water as I could with dinner. I was 5 feet tall and 98 lbs. when I got to the London school. I dropped to 90 lbs. after I started my diet and my sports teams.

I began running 10 miles a day in addition to my gymnastics practice and my tennis practice. I would get up at 4:30 a.m. and run 5 miles before breakfast. I would weigh myself, drink a few cups of water and run off to tennis practice. After school was gymnastics, then I would run five more miles, do about 150 crunches, study till about 1:30 a.m. then get up the next morning and start all over again. I managed to keep to this routine (with varying changes) for the next two years. I got down to about 80 lbs. by my 16th birthday. I thought I was fine, I was just being healthy.

I decided to change schools again so I could be nearer to my brother and sister who were attending school in Spain. This time a co-ed school. I had managed to avoid all thoughts of boys in my last school because they were kind of scarce. I was also terrified of them. I was convinced that no guy would want a fat girlfriend and being with a guy was too complicated and I didn't have enough energy to lead my somewhat chaotic life and deal with love/lust at the same time. I simply avoided them.

At my new school, my exercise routine and my diet was making me somewhat withdrawn. I didn't want friends, they were too complicated and they might find out. I earned the nickname the "Ice Princess" and was happy that no one tried to get to close. I got a visit from Linnie who had just gotten out of her fourth hospital and was "recovered". I was thrilled to see that I had finally gotten smaller than her. The student beat the teacher.

I started running 15 miles a day. I quit the tennis team that I had joined only months before and began a more strict exercise regimen. I was running 15 miles a day, working out in the school gym for almost two hours a day and studying the rest of the time. I said I didn't have time to eat, I thought I didn't need to eat, I started eating only breakfast and dinner and drinking gallons of water a day.

I got down to 78 lbs. and passed out in the school library. My parents took me home to Boston. They put me in a hospital where I promptly lost 6 more lbs. and was put on bed-restriction and an IV. I was threatened, bribed, cajoled, screamed at and cursed at and I still maintained my new weight of 78 lbs. I couldn't walk, my hair started to fall out, I had trouble breathing, I had horrible muscle spasms, a heart murmur and developed pneumonia. After a scary incident where I inexplicably blacked out 3 times in a row, I decided that I wanted to leave this awful place and allowed myself to gain 12 lbs. I was discharged and sent to live with my aunt and uncle in Maine.

I went back to my old ways, lost another 5 lbs. and was visited by my parents. They said they were tired of putting up with my shit, I was selfish, self-centered, vain, and stupid. I ignored everything they said, told them I wanted to finish school at my first school in Spain and was allowed back in. I gained some weight, got up to 90 lbs. and re-joined the tennis team. I still maintained a perfect grade average as I had always had. I was convinced I was fine. I had one term left before I finished my A-levels and was applying to colleges already. I had always been somewhat unfeeling. I didn't want to have emotions, emotions were for common people and I was better than that. Something of a British stiff-upper-lip.

I was still known as the Ice Princess and I was happy that way. I don't know what happened that year but I think I started feeling. I was alternately hysterical and unemotional. Angry and Giddy. Happy and Hateful. I think I gained a new name, "Psycho Girl". I became obsessed with my feelings. Was I OK? Was I happy? Why am I not happy? Is there something wrong with me for not being happy? Look at that girl, she looks happy, why can't I be like her? Why am I not happy, dammit?

I graduated and moved back to the states. I lived with my aunt and eventually moved into my own apartment courtesy of my grandparents. I got a scholarship to a college and that fall started my freshman year. I did fine the first term, maintained a weight of 85 lbs. Eventually I started getting more and more upset with nothing. I started losing weight again. I got a new therapist, and then stopped seeing her. I started my insane exercising again, I got down to my all time low of 70 lbs. I went into the hospital again and came out more upset than ever. I couldn't figure out why I was upset, I just knew I was. And I knew that I wasn't really getting better, I was just existing, in kind of a limbo.

To make a long story short, I alternately lost and gained about 20 lbs. for a couple of months, finally had a boyfriend, dumped the boyfriend, hit an all time low depression, got help from a guy I barely knew and finally decided that this was no way to live. This was a way to die. I quit college, I got a real therapist that I could relate to, went into the hospital for the last time and after a long time was finally able to maintain my weight of 99-102 lbs. for a year.

The year after that I was engaged to my fiancˇe and went back to college and this year, my third year of recovery, am still in school, still maintaining my weight and am still engaged to be married after I graduate. And I currently speak about eating disorders at the local hospital and junior high schools. Its not easy, when I get upset or depressed about my grades and family and stuff, my eating is the first thing to go. And I'm currently on Prozac to manage my occasional depression, but I'm here. I'm here to tell this story. I'm here to say that I have a real life now, a life that doesn't revolve around counting calories and running endless miles and pushing away the people who love me most.

I'm one of the lucky ones, I was able to get it under control and get my life back in order. And I'm here to say to all those people who think recovery is unattainable for them, It's NEVER unattainable. It's not easy, its hard work. But it can happen. And when it does, it's this huge sigh of relief. It's a whole new lifestyle, but its great. It's a challenge, but its LIFE. Life as an anorectic is no way to live, it's a way to die. Remember that. And all you have to do is ask for help.