Starvation of the Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic
An inside look into my life while almost developing an eating disorder. How I survived and my thoughts throughout it all.

Submitted: December 13, 2011

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Submitted: December 13, 2011

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Being underweight sucks. More so than being overweight. At least obesity gets recognized as a serious problem. But the same thing can’t be said for those of us who are way too skinny. No, most people fail to recognize just how serious of a problem being underweight is. It too takes a toll on our self esteem. Why is it that it’s not appropriate to make fun of someone who is fat, but it is acceptable to tease those who are underweight? Sure, my stomach doesn’t stick out. My thighs aren’t massive. But I have a different problem. My ribs protrude from my body. My butt is bony. My hip bones stick out. I look at my body with just as much disgust as an obese person might.

 On a daily basis I feel dizzy, weak, tired. I look at my food, knowing I need to eat, but I can’t bring myself to put any of it in my mouth. It is a constant struggle between my mind and stomach. Physically, I am hungry. But mentally, the food is repulsing me. Some days, my minds wins and I go without eating. On the days that I do eat, I am never truly satisfied and it makes me feel guilty. And why must people stare when I am eating? It’s as if I’m in a freak show and they’ve come to gawk at me. I hate their stares. But most of all, I hate my insecurity. I hate that despite being extremely underweight, I don’t want to get fat. Every time I gain a pound, a part of me worries. I am worried that I won’t be able to stop gaining weight. But at the same time, my clothes don’t fit right. They hang loose from my body. They are the smallest size I could find at the store.

My name is Amy and I am underweight. I am 5’1 and weigh 98 pounds. My lowest was 92. My highest was 107. That was before it all happened.

Words like “anorexia” were being thrown around me, but I disagreed. It was not an intentional starvation. I was not trying to lose weight due to a skewed perspective of my body. Instead, it was more like a loss of my spirit. I gave up. My body no longer ached for food because it just wasn’t appealing to me anymore. There was nothing left motivating me to care to take care of my body. At first, it was painful. But eating only hurt me more.

 Then, slowly, the pain was gone. I no longer craved food. In replacement, the other side effects soon took over. Dizziness was the first to come. Next was the nausea. Eventually, the tiredness and lack of energy followed. This was the lowest point of it all. I would wake up, brush my teeth, go to school, do an hour of homework, and then sleep for the rest of the day. At this time, I could only ever muster up the energy to shower once, maybe twice, a week. But once again, I didn’t care. It took too much effort. I was wasting away, one pound at a time, and it was perfectly fine with me. I stopped feeling altogether. My family and friends, even church leaders, all were concerned for me. Everyone noticed the weight I lost. Losing 4 pounds on a fat person is not noticeable at all. But 4 pounds on an already underweight person is a detrimental loss. My sinking weight escaped no one. Only I seemed blind to just how obvious it was. It got to a point where I withdrew from social situations. Not because there was food present. No, by then I had become a pro at ignoring food altogether. I stopped attending events because I couldn’t take the stares. My roommates were the most persistent, always finding a time to lecture me about my eating habits… or lack thereof. But my family’s stares were by far the worst. I was truly scaring them, which made me feel uncomfortable. No one knew just how much it affected me. They couldn’t tell because I showed no emotion. I was too tired to do anything about it.

The first time I realized that I was too skinny was when my bras no longer fit. I had dropped a cup size. This was embarrassing. That night, I stripped naked and looked at myself for the first time in the mirror. I could see each one of my ribs and clearly feel the dents between them. My two hip bones could be seen as well, poking out through my skin. My breasts were, as I mentioned before, smaller. My body was quite the sight. But what scared me the most is that I wished my thighs were thinner. I stared at myself and still wished certain parts of my body to be skinnier than they were. If I continued to lose weight, I’d eventually get there- right? But this thought quickly vanished and I knew I had a problem.

 I began to keep count of my calories. I was curious just how much I was actually eating. Most days, it was less than 500 calories. Even then, this was mostly through Breakfast Essentials, a drink mix I had every day. It helped curve my hunger and gave me protein and calcium, as well as antioxidants. The dizziness became longer and more frequent. A migraine was always on the back of my mind. My already white skin went pale and colorless. Many people speculate as to why I allowed this to get so out of hand. A lot blame it on depression. A week before this problem started, my grandfather was killed unexpectedly in a car crash and I guy I had absolutely adored moved away to California. On top of this, I was stressed from all the makeup work I had to do because I missed the first week of school. I was gone because I was in El Salvador for my brother’s wedding. There, I got sick. Perhaps this all was just too much for me and I became depressed and stopped eating. But I don’t even think that’s the whole story. I don’t even think I know the true story. I’m not sure if I ever will. Perhaps how it began will just forever be speculation and educated guessed.

 But I can tell you one thing- it was not just one factor that triggered it. Life happened. In result of that, I withdrew from food. Not the smartest thing to do, but I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the consequences. Eating was the biggest battle in my life during this time. Starvation made me numb. It made me see things from a different angle. I finally was persuaded to see a doctor. Maybe there was something physically wrong with me. The thought excited me, not because I wished ill on myself, but then there would be a real explanation as to why my body was failing me. But alas, after seeing the doctor and having three different tests done on me, including a pregnancy test, all of them came back negative. The medical science could offer no plausible argument, and more so, they couldn’t find solutions. The doctor prescribed me medication for acid reflux, but I didn’t take any of the pills. I know what acid reflux is, and what I was experiencing was not acid reflux. What was I then? Anorexia Nervosa? The definition has three parts to it.

 They are:

1.Refusal to maintain a healthy body weight.

2. An intense fear of gaining weight.

3. A distorted body image.

I promise you, that although I could not for the life of me maintain a healthy body weight, I did not fit the other two categories. I wanted to gain weight. Like everyone, I had my moments of insecurity, but overall, I knew I was way too skinny. I want to weigh 110 pounds. That is the minimum weight required to donate blood. That’s always been a goal of mine. One that my small weight has prevented me from fulfilling. I’m not sure how I was able to break the cycle. It was just an easy process. I was tired of being so tired. I was sick of looking sick. I was fed up with starving. I wanted to be myself again.

Somehow I forced the food down. Not a lot at all. In fact, I started with a forkful of spaghetti. But I did this with dedication. Later, rather than sooner, I was able to hold down a slightly less than normal sized meal. This is still the case. But I am proud of the progress I have made. I want to make something clear. This was not an overnight transformation. No. It took hard work. And lots of patience. And even some tears were involved. And on occasion, I still ended up throwing it up in my toilet. It wasn’t forced. My body was simply not used to the food, and so therefore, it wanted it out of its system.

I went from weighing 92 pounds to weighing 100. Due to different circumstances, I lost 2 of those pounds, putting me at a less than healthy 98. I am not proud of the double digit number. But I am certainly grateful for it. It is a lot higher than a 92. My color has returned and I once again have energy. Not as much as I would like, but a lot more than what it was. Sometimes the dizziness is still there. But this too is becoming a rare occurrence. Hopefully, in time I will be able to put on a few more pounds and it will be gone completely. My family has expressed how much healthier I appear to be. My roommates concerned speeches have turned into lighthearted teasing. I was able to overcome this temporary starvation in my life.

 However, it is not something that can easily be tossed aside. Despite all the progress I’ve made, this is still a daily struggle for me. Just because I am eating more than I was, does not mean that it comes naturally. I still have to fight the urge to not eat some days. I still have to tell myself that I NEED food to survive. Food is not my enemy. It lets me continue living. Food is a gift from God. I need to treat it as such. I cannot afford to neglect my body by withholding such nourishment. I was slowly dying at one point. Not to sound dramatic, because it was not like that at all. But if I had continued down that path, my body would eventually give out. I would not have the energy to try to stay alive. Because starving yourself drains you both mentally and physically.

According to several pro anorexia websites, being thin = beauty. The thinner, the better. This is a lie. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And more importantly, being TOO thin is absolutely revolting. There is nothing beautiful about being able to count and feel each bone in your body. There is nothing beautiful or feminine about losing your body’s natural curves. There is nothing beautiful about becoming closer to death with each meal you skip. And it breaks my heart that some people think this. In part, I blame society. It has put so much unnecessary attention on how a girl is “supposed” to look like. There is no one perfect size. Many men prefer different body types. And personality always trumps looks. What’s the point of being gorgeous on the outside if you’re ugly on the inside?

So society, PLEASE leave all the women in the world alone. Quit comparing us to some “perfect” supermodel that has layers of makeup and the advantage of selective lighting. Those pictures are 98% fake. So quit trying to tell us we need to look like that. Every person is flawed. I believe it’s the flaws that add to a person’s individual beauty. Everyone wants to be perfect. However, true perfection is not fully possible. It takes high self esteem and great respect for yourself to live with your flaws and accept them as part of who you are. I find this attitude plays a role in true beauty. I wish society would teach girls to love themselves for who they are. Instead, the media teaches self hate for who we are not. Not tall enough. Not tan enough. And most of all, not skinny enough.

Who in this world has the right to tell us how we should look? Who has the right to tell a person that they need to become a size 0 instead of being contented with a size 2 or 4? Who can tell us to try achieving this goal by whatever means necessary, even if it means stopping to eat altogether? No one has that ultimate power over us. No one except God, and He would never encourage such extreme behavior. The Almighty accepts us as we are. After all, weren’t we created in His image? Who on earth assume to have powers equal or higher than God’s?

At the same time, I realize that just like being underweight, someone can be overweight, which can also be unhealthy behavior. A doctor can advise a person to drop some pounds, purely for the benefit of their health. I am not at all encouraging obesity. But I am also not encouraging losing weight when not necessary. Can’t we all strive to be a healthy medium? I just want two things to come out of this. The first is that as girls, we can love ourselves and our bodies, without wishing to be a size negative. The second, which first got me on this long tangent, is that people are willing to accept that being underweight is a serious problem.

Even if one is not technically an anorexic, like myself, I am still sensitive to others’ insensitivity about the subject. It’s usually the fatter people, not understanding how being so skinny is a bad thing. And that’s the key word- they DON’T understand. And I’m not saying I’m on expert on heavier weight, because I’m not. But I know that it is unhealthy. So I don’t make fun of it or just roll my eyes whenever a person is complaining about it. Both sides have reasons to be concerned. I just feel like my side, the underweight category, doesn’t get the serious attention it deserves. A lot of people in this world have no clue what it’s like to feel yourself literally waste away. I felt helpless as the pounds just kept disappearing. It was one of the worst experiences I have lived through as of yet. So yes, I am bothered when some people make rude remarks whenever I wished I could gain weight. They think I am just fishing for compliments or that I’m not grateful for my petite size. They can’t begin to comprehend why I’d want to gain weight. Well, they can’t. Because they are all at a healthier weight than I am.

I am not asking for sympathy or permission. I am just asking for a little slack on the judgments flashing through your mind. Before, I mentioned my roommate’s teasing. I prefer this to their many worried talks to me, but it is the lesser of two evils. Why do they think they have the right to now teasingly call me anorexic because I skip one meal, when months ago, that was a very real possibility? Why do they think they can roll their eyes when I fail to eat less than half of the food on my plate? Once again, I can just imagine what they’re thinking. And once again, they don’t understand how hard it is for me to eat as much as I do. They take for granted their “normal” eating habits. I don’t appreciate them telling me I need to eat more, especially when I don’t tell them they’ve probably exceeded their recommended daily amount of calories. Why is overeating not put on display just as under eating? Probably because they don’t realize how much they’ve eaten. Instead, they’re too busy noticing how much I don’t eat. I don’t feel the urge to lecture them after stuffing the second donut in their mouth; they can lay off me for only eating half of my own donut. It works both ways.

The other thing that really frustrates me is when someone jokingly calls me fat. My roommates think the reason I DON’T eat is because I think I am overweight. First of all, if this was true, then they are just confirming my fears and encouraging my behavior. Secondly, I don’t find it funny. I do not think I am fat. I have admitted to being too skinny. That being said, why must they disregard my personal concerns? Gaining weight is not easy. It is something that has never been natural to me. I’ve always been on the small side. But why do they insist on thinking they know what is going through my mind as I refuse to eat another bite?

It’s not about some distorted body image I have. It’s about self control. It’s about allowing the food to digest in my body. It’s about not wanting to make myself sick. I have already said that eating is still a difficult task for me. They scoff at me for my lack of food. I applaud myself for the amount of food I have eaten. It’s hard. They just don’t realize that. And I don’t blame them for their ignorance. They’ve never gone through the process of starvation. I have. They don’t know that each bite I take and swallow is a small victory. They don’t know that there are times I am tempted to throw all my progress away and go back to the starvation. As destructive as it was, it is also addicting. Once when the hunger pains vanish, it feels right in a wrong way. There’s pleasure to be found. Make no mistake that the pleasure is sick and twisted, but it’s there none the less. It’s all consuming throughout my entire body. The pleasure disappears after so long. I am left with nothing but self loathing when this happens. This hatred became more prominent when I tried to gain back my weight. The food caused physical pain and mental anguish. How can eating be such a terrible battle? Nonetheless, it was. Still is. The only difference is that now I have something worth fighting for. I have learned to love myself like never before. I have accepted all my imperfections and flaws.

Another point I want to make is that while I was enduring the most difficult trial I’ve face yet, I appreciate all the love and support given to me. It meant a lot to know that others loved me while I hated myself. That being said, I did not appreciate it when other people wouldn’t leave me alone. I was constantly bombarded with the same statements. “Why don’t you eat something?” “You need to eat.” “You don’t look too good. Want me to make you dinner?” “How much have you eaten?” “When was the last time you’ve eaten?”

In case you didn’t catch the theme, everything said to me was about the sensitive subject of food. When someone is struggling with an eating disorder or just food in general, you should NOT suffocate them by ONLY talking about food. Personally it annoyed me and only made me rebel further, just out of pure spite. There is a clear difference between expressing your worries and nagging. That’s another reason I withdrew from my friends and family. They didn’t know when to drop the subject. I knew I had a problem. I acknowledged it. Why did they constantly have to degrade me for it? And I hated it when the obvious solution was stated. “You need to eat.” Despite their good intentions, it rubbed off to me as condescending. I am an adult; I know the importance of eating. If it were that simple, I would do it. But it’s not. No one understood why eating was next to impossible for me. And I hated them for that. I felt so isolated.

That was then. Today, I’ve come so far through this journey. I have learned many hard lessons and gained a new clarity of life. During this struggle, I drew closer to God. I have a strong testimony that He really does care about each one of us. The times where I was crying on my bed, I could feel His presence next to me and I knew that despite my problem, I was still a Daughter of God. My Lord and Savior was aware of my pain and sent me small comforts of peace, even in my darkest moments. There were times were I needed to get out of bed and accomplish something important. Time was not on my side. Somehow, I was able to muster up the energy to crawl out of bed and get it done. This was not on my own. I knew that I had angels around, helping to pick me up and carry me throughout my tasks. There was no way I could have done it on my own. There was no way I’d have the strength to get out of bed after not eating for a few days. A higher power came into play. I know this to be true. Just as I know to be true that while I was trying to recover, God was there beside me through that as well. He never left my side. While throwing up, I could feel a hand on my back, despite no one else being around. The Atonement that Christ suffered was not just for sinners, but for all the pains of the world, including mine. I was ashamed, and Christ helped lessen that. I know for a fact that God loves each one of us and will keep us company through our hardships. I am nowhere near perfect. I am grateful the Lord does not ask for perfection. He simply asks we do our best, and he will cover the rest for us. Even when my best is not very much, I know that the Lord sees to it that I still get the blessings He promised me.

 


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