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The Relapse

January 16, 2011

In the beginning, that was all it was: getting healthier. But what happened was weight loss, and it seemed almost instant. It wasn’t very much, but it was enough that people noticed. And people complimented. The more compliments I received, the more food I refused to eat.

Out to dinner with Mommy in July, 2009. It’s not immediately obvious, but even here I weighed a lot less than I did in February. I’m definitely much paler.

What started as cutting out muffins, cookies, brownies, and ice cream, turned into cutting out everything but cottage cheese, bananas, and six or seven other foods that I decided were “safe”. What started out as a desire to be a little healthier turned into a full blown, very serious case of anorexia.

Thanksgiving morning 2009. I was just a couple of pounds heavier than my lowest weight. It makes me sad to see my face and cheekbones so sunken. My eyes, especially with those black bags underneath, look lifeless.

 

By November of the same year, just nine months later, I had lost a quarter of my body weight. I was a skeleton, and an empty shell of the vibrant girl I used to be. That September I started seeing a therapist, and in October, a doctor specializing in EDs and a dietitian, but I was still loosing weight. Then, that November, during one appointment, my doctor informed me that if I lost two more pounds she would have to recommend that I be hospitalized. Well, that scared the hell out of me. I was at my lowest weight and fighting just to get through the day without passing out. Grudgingly, I started eating; mostly ensure pluses and clif bars. But I gained weight.

January 2010, showing off my new dress and those thigh-high boots. You can see less of my cheek bones, but my collarbone are still pretty visible. And yes, that is a Michael Jackson poster on my wall behind me. I am a HUGE fan!

 

By January 2010, I had gained enough that my visits to the doctor became more spaced out and I had the energy to walk up the stairs without panting. I started being able to sweat at dance again. After much consideration, my parents let me home school. I started eating food, not supplements, and I was steadily gaining. By May, I was at a healthy BMI again, but still significantly less then when I first started losing. I hadn’t been to my doctor in a month and a half and was seeing my therapist every two weeks.

 

 This was sometime in May of 2009. I was within a “healthy” BMI range, though still less than my highest weight.

 

 Though I was physically healthy again, I was still extremely sick mentally. And I was unhappy in my body. I felt so fat and was constantly pulling at the teeny layer of fat that had formed on my waist.

At the end of June 2010, my ballet summer intensive started, and I was dancing about 6 hours a day. In spite of that, I only consumed about 1,100 calories daily, and rapidly lost weight. In the very first week I lost 4 pounds, and it was a very fast downward spiral from there. By the end of the five-week program, I’d lost 7 pounds and was looking sickly again. As the ballet year started again in September, I kept my miniscule diet, and by December, I weighed 94.5 pounds, dangerously close to my lowest weight.

Before I knew it, and without fully realizing it, I’d relapsed. I was once again tired, weak, cold, moody, and miserable. On January 18th, my parents took me to a psychiatrist who showed serious concern for my mental and physical state. He ordered a bone density test and stressed the importance of immediate weight gain. At the time, I hated the doctor, and thought he and my parents were crazed and out to get me. I adopted the mentality of, “I’ll show him. As badly as he wants me to gain, he seems so skeptical that I’ll actually be able to do it. I’ll prove him wrong. I’ll prove them all wrong.”

And I ate.

I tried to do it differently the second time around, working on the mental aspect of recovery just as much (if not more) as the physical weight gain. I came to understand that not eating was simply not the option that it used to be, and it was not a solution to anything. During the previous 2 years, I’d lost so much: weight, my period, a lot of the hair on my head (which seemed to have relocated and started growing on my back, arms, and stomach) energy, enthusiasm, goals and dreams, friends, experiences I could have had otherwise, and most importantly, simple happiness. I honestly had nothing more to lose, and the whole world to gain. And I was honestly ready to start living again.

The next few months were filled with cramming 2,800 calories daily into my tiny, 5’3 frame, countless bottles of ensure plus, pb&j’s, chocolate, and other “weight gain” foods. After three months of stomach aches, tears, food-babies, and “feeling fat,”  my work and determination paid off: I got my period back. In three months I was able to gain back 17 pounds, along with my life.

For the very first time in two years, I was happy, and I promised myself that I’d never, every walk down Anorexia Avenue again!

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