Diary of an Anorexic
(By Christy Heitger-Casbon)
My Struggle Begins (Ages 12 and 13)
I'm so gross ! I don't know how anyone stands to look at me. All the skinny girls in my class get the attention and what do I get? I get called a pig! Jason is the worst. I think the reason Jason's comments hurt so much is because I know that is true. I'm a pig. I eat way too often and way too much junk food. Mom says 110 pounds is fine for being 5 feet 3 inches tall, but I think I'm going to try to lose a few pounds just enough so Jason will stop teasing me.
I'm not doing too bad - six pounds and counting. Another six or eight and I might look OK. I'd love to lose my thunder thighs. Jason doesn't call me an "oinker" anymore, but I think that's only because my teacher told him to stop.
I want to learn the caloric content in everything. I wonder how many calories are in licking a postage stamp. Do vitamins have calories? I know a stick of gum has 10, but if I were to chew gum instead of eating lunch, I'd come out ahead.
I've lost 17 pounds. I think mom's trying to trick me into eating more calories, but I'm the one who's tricking her! When I get to school, I throw my lunch away. Then, while my friends scarf down their fat-filled lunches, I spend 30 minutes walking the halls. So not only do I resist consuming calories, I actually burn some! I'd love to be all skinny, pretty and tan at the end of the summer. All my friends would be blown away !
I'm having a hard time getting a tan, because I'm always wrapped in a sweatshirt and blanket. I'm sick of being cold all of the time. It was 31℃ today, but I couldn't warm up. I'm tired a lot, too, and I'm constantly napping. But at least when I'm asleep, I'm not thinking about food.
Today Mom asked me if I knew what anorexia nervosa is. She and Dad think I have it. That's crazy. Yes, I eat less now, but so what? Why do they have to criticize me for it? I get good grades. I try to make them happy. Why can't they let me have this one thing? Why do they have to control what I eat?
OK. I wouldn't admit this to Mom and Dad, but I'm scared. Today Jason asked what kind of funky lipstick I had on, but I wasn't wearing any. He said my lips were completely white. When I stood up in church to sing a hymn, I blacked out. My eyes were open, but all I could see was darkness, and I fell back into the pew.
A Slow Recovery (Age 13)
I'm being admitted into an Indianapolis hospital tomorrow. I'll be missing some school, and it's lonely in the hospital. But Dr. Kirby says I have no choice. I weigh 73 pounds.
I don't like my attending physician, Dr. Richards. He seems like a head case. He says any one of my major organs could give out at any moment - heart, lungs, kidneys. I thought he was exaggerating , but when he threatened to hook me up to an IV if I didn't gain weight, I figured he meant business.
Right now, I weigh 90 pounds, and it's all I can do to down a couple pieces of pizza. I admit, I feel stronger and more energetic than I have in months. I'm not lightheaded now that I eat six small meals a day. And I no longer have to dress in three layers of clothing to stay warm. I guess my body fat is good for something.
Ninety-two pounds - that sounds pretty scary. The scariest will be when I top the big 100. As long as I gain steadily, Dr. Richards says I don't have to go back to the hospital.
Throughout this nightmare, Mom and Dad have been so supportive. I used to feel like everyone was against me, but now I can see that Mom and Dad are on my side. I knew they always were, but when I was starving myself, I couldn't see things clearly. Oh, guess what. Jason bought me roses as an I'm-proud-of-you type thing. It's definitely abnormal for a 16-year-old boy to spend $50 on his classmate! But that meant so much to me. Smelling those flowers makes me feel genuinely happy - something I haven't felt in a really long time.
Jill stopped by today, and she said I looked "awesome." That made me feel good - to know that I could actually gain 20 pounds and still be told I look good. Now I see that being attractive isn't so much about being a low weight - it's about being a healthy weight. And that's what I really want - to be healthy and happy!
Recovery (Age 23)
Today I stumbled across a horrifying picture taken during the summer of 1986, and a flood of bad memories came rushing back. Mom still gets teary when my anorexic days are mentioned, and Dad recalls the summer and fall of 1986 as the "darkest days" of his life. He says that the week before I was admitted into the hospital, he found me on the couch in the living room. As he looked at my frail, skeletal body, a chill shot up his spine. He told me I was lying so still and silent, he put his cheek next to my mouth to feel if I was still breathing. He said I looked dead.
I'll never forget that.