Welcome back everyone! If you’ve clicked on this blog post I’m assuming you know what I will be talking about. Eating disorder is a scary word. It is something that is not often understood and there is still a lot of stigma surrounding it and the people it affects. Many people believe having an eating disorder is a choice someone makes. Everything about that statement is false. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that effect a diverse range of people and no one has control over how and when it comes into their lives.
I can say that I suffered and am still recovering from Anorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder.
It all started about two years ago. In the summer between grade eight and grade nine I had gained a significant amount of weight. I was not considered obese or overweight, but compared to the petite size I was the year before, I had changed quite a bit. The picture on the left is me on the first day of grade eight and the picture on the right is me on the first day of grade nine. Many of my friends didn’t comment on the weight gain and simply acted like I was the same person I was the year before, which I was inside. However, one girl I called my friend decided she didn’t like my new appearance and made it her mission to humiliate me in front of my classmates. She would tug on my clothing, constantly criticize what I was eating and never let me forget that I used to be smaller. This caused my life to spiral.
Taking it very far back in time to my early childhood. I was a perfectionist from day one and I always wanted things to go just as I had planned them. This eventually manifested into severe anxiety that required a lot of professional help to get under control. At one point in my life I could barely hold a simple conversation with someone because of the severity of my anxiety. I would analyse what I said, what I wore, the faces people made, everything. This caused me to have anxiety attacks on the regular and it really made my life difficult to live happily. By the time I reached grade nine, it was manageable enough for me to handle attacks and severe bursts of anxiety on my own. However, when all of this started, it was harder to manage.
And we’re back. As the bullying got worse, my anxiety got worst. It was like two people were constantly trying to yell over one another. At first, I didn’t think it was about the way I looked. I thought my friends were just jealous, or stressed, or having a bad day. At one point I even convinced myself that they were just trying to help me and make me realize what I needed to change about myself to be happy. This is when I started to restrict and eventually stop eating.
It started off small, no more junk food, sweets, ice cream or fast food. This seemed reasonable to me. It seemed like a healthy change. Eventually that turned into no sugar, no carbs and no fats. Then food became my enemy. Everything was bad for me. Carrots? Bad. Toast? To many carbs. Yogurt? Too much fat. Ice cream? I can’t even start to explain what I thought of ice cream. At this point in time I was eating a small meal at dinner which my parents made me eat and that was it. No breakfast, lunch or snacks. And if my parents left me to my own devices for a night, I wouldn’t eat anything that day. I was losing a pound a day, 7 pounds every week.
At one point in January 2016, my mom brought me to the emergency room. She knew something was wrong and insisted I go get checked by professionals. I was examined by the ER doctor and she told my mom I was okay medically, but recommended a psychiatric analysis. A psychiatrist was brought in to talk to me and I lied through gritted teeth. When he asked me about how I viewed my body, I told him I thought I looked perfect. When he asked me if I ate 3 meals a day, I told him of course I do I want to be healthy. When he asked me about suicide and depression, I told him I was the happiest girl alive. Even tho I had been depressed an suicidal for months. They ended up sending me home, however that only lasted about a month.
Between January and February, I was more determined than ever to drop weight. I ate the smallest portions my parents would allow and drank extreme amounts of water to make sure food passed through my system as quickly as possible. I reached my lowest weight in the month before I was admitted. I had started off a few months earlier 160 pounds, and in 3 short months I was 98 pounds. I thought that was the best thing on earth, I thought I’d made amazing progress. However, a few days later I finally cracked. My mom found me crying on the washroom floor and brought me back to the hospital. I was so sick and so malnourished, I didn’t move from my hospital bed the whole 14 hours we were in the emergency room. After extensive tests, they decided to admit me to the pediatric ward at Health Sciences North. Little did everyone know, I was much sicker than they thought.
The first thing they did when they brought me into my room was hook me up to a heart monitor.
FUN FACT! The average resting heart rate for a 15 year old girl is between 70 and 100 bpm
When they turned on the heart monitor silence filled the room. My resting heart rate was 35 beats per minute (bpm). The nurses told us I was at risk for a heart attack and I was close to death. When they got me to stand up, in a few seconds my heart rate rushed to 120-140 bpm. This meant that my heart rate was increasing by up to 110 bpm in a few seconds. It was so early in the morning the nurses let me sleep, while keeping a close eye on me. When I woke up the next day the severity of my condition was truly realized. They had to weight me everyday to make sure I was gaining weight, which meant I could only wear a gown. On the first day I had to get on the scale in only my bra and underwear.
You could see almost every bone in my body. Every rib, my whole collarbone, my entire pelvis and the contour of the bones in my arms and legs. When I was admitted I weighed 110 pounds. They also discovered that I had failing kidneys and a shrunken brain. I had also lost the majority of my hair which caused me to wear bandannas for over a year.
I had to have 3 meals a day with 3 snack in between. I had to finish my breakfast, lunch and dinner within 30 minutes, then I could not use the washroom for 1 hour, to make sure I didn’t throw up my meal. Then, I had to finish my snacks in 15 minutes and could not use the washroom for 30 minutes. This was a rule because people with eating disorders eat extremely slow to make themselves feel fuller faster. When I first arrived I refused to eat anything. After hours of fighting, the nurses decided it was time to insert a feeding tube into my stomach through my nose. A thin tube was snacked 50 cm down my nose into my stomach so liquid meals could be fed to me. I had this tube for a while and had many liquid meals. Eventually, after I promised to eat, they took the tube out and let me have real food or liquid meals.
There were many set backs while I was in the hospital. A lot of food was wasted and many breakdowns occurred. I was also diagnosed with depression while I was there. They realized that my anxiety, the depression I was keeping a secret and the bullying all combined to create a lethal mental state that eventually drove me to become anorexic. They released me from the hospital after 27 days. Even tho I was no longer an inpatient, they wanted to make sure I would continue progressing. I was admitted to the Sudbury Regional Eating Disorders Clinic as an outpatient. This consisted of weekly visits which included an extensive medical exam, blood pressure heart rate and weight, followed by an hour of therapy. I was a patient at this clinic for a year and a half before being discharged. Being discharged from the program was one of the happiest and proudest days of my life.
Today, I still have bad days. Sometimes I think having a few crackers will make me gain 20 pounds and that I can only have water. However, some days I go to Dairy Queen and eat an entire large blizzard. After years of hard work, I have arrived to the place I am today. I can say with confidence that I am happy and that I am confident in how I look.
After reading over this post I realize how long it is and how few pictures I have of when I was sick. I promise not all my posts will be this long, but this is the shortest version of my story possible. As well, taking pictures was not my priority while recovering, however I wish I’d taken more to be able to show my progress. I hope everyone enjoyed learning a little bit about me and I hope that my story can help others fighting their own battles.