Jennifer B.'s Story Anorexia UCSB, California

I believed that thin was good and I needed to be thin. I was anorexic for about two years, but the mentality set in before the physical symptoms did. I was really influenced in high school by magazines geared to middle aged women. I read these while on the stairmaster at the yuppie health club my parents belonged to. All of those magazines had articles on losing weight and healthy eating. I stopped eating red meat. I stopped eating poultry. I stopped eating fats. I virtually stopped eating altogether, but something in my mind told me that I needed to eat at least something everyday.

During the summer before my freshman year at college, I'd ride my bike everyday to work. I was a camp counselor and would spend the morning running around with little kids. For my lunch break I would hop right back on my bike and ride around for that hour. My afternoon was spent the same way as my morning. When I got off work at four, I would ride my bike to the gym and work out for two hours. I returned home briefly to share a quick dinner with my family, usually I ate a bit of rice and vegetables, before I returned back to the gym for karate lessons.

I lost about 20% of my body weight and stopped having my period. I was constantly thinking about food because I was depriving myself of it. I remember one day when I was a freshman in college. I ate a small breakfast of granola in the dining commons before class. I knew that I wouldn't be able to eat until dinner that night, so I grabbed a banana because I thought I would eat it during the day. That banana became a control issue for me. I knew it was in my backpack the entire day, but I would not allow myself to eat it. I was starving, but I felt that I needed to punish myself with that feeling of hunger.

I finally broke down and admitted to myself that I had a problem and I needed help. Being anorexic is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Not only was my body starving and eating itself, but my mind was also delusional and obsessed with food. Anorexia was overtaking my life and I hated it. With the help of the school counselor and support from those who loved me, I got help and am now actively involved with fighting disordered eating and negative body image on campus at UCSB.