Because I could no longer compete in sports, I felt like my identity was taken away from me; I had based my identity on how well I did in sports & was known for my athleticism; other than that who was I?! Other factors such as sexual harassment, legalism, perfectionism and emotional abuse influenced & attributed to my inner pain. I felt like my world was out of control since my identity was taken away. I then started purging as a way to get my emotions out; I'd been stuffing emotions since a very young age & they bottled up tremendously. I refused to eat & purged everything I was forced to eat. Because of malnutrition, I could no longer stand up without getting dizzy or light-headed. My extremities were completely numb, I had severe lanugo on my back to try & keep what was left of my body warm (I was always cold & shivering, having to wear multiple layers of clothing to begin to keep me warm), my hands & feet were literally purple, my back caved in, etc.- I looked like a starving orphan. To this day I still don't know how I looked- my mind was so distorted that I saw something completely different in the mirror & on images; this is how I was told I looked; I imagine it was a scary sight. I never realized how thin I was- the number was never small enough & my clothes were never loose enough; my mind was so distorted & things I said were not rational.
One Sunday in April 2009 during church, I fainted while standing up to sing. It caused a lot of attention & people rushed over to me. I was mortified & refused to sit down. Someone then carried me out of the church. People gasped at how much weight I'd lost so quickly & at how malnourished I was. During my eating disorder, fainting was a common occurrence. Because of my significant weight loss, I was tricked into seeing an eating disorder doctor- my mom told me it was a doctor for my back. I was beyond angry when they frequently asked me questions about my weight & why I wanted to lose weight; I was so embarrassed & mortified- I didn't know why I did it!! After doing labs, I was admitted to the hospital for severely low potassium, crazy whacked up electrolytes, severe dehydration & an abnormal heartbeat. I was stabilized within about five days & was put on Prozac.
After being on Prozac for a couple of months, I felt good & became overconfident in my ability to live without the medicine; I first of all did not like taking medicine & secondly I was embarrassed of taking antidepressants- I wanted to "fix it" on my own. I then stopped taking it & things went downhill from there. I struggled tremendously from anxiety & depression & the tiniest things upset me- I was emotionally very unstable; I couldn't cope with anything. I refused to eat & lied about having had skipped meals. At school, I would busy myself with other things during lunch to avoid eating. I also threw my food away or hid it so no one could find it. When asked if I'd eaten, I always lied & said I had. When I did eat, to avoid curiosity & suspicion of not eating, I immediately ran to the bathroom afterward to get rid of my food. I was no longer allowed to exercise, so I went to extreme measures to lose weight. I began taking laxatives & got severely sick because there was nothing in my stomach to get rid of- it felt like my insides were being ripped out. I was also put on a meal plan but manipulated it; I lied about eating & when people were home or watching me, I would eat but then purge it up multiple times until everything was out. I didn't binge & purge- I only purged what I was forced to eat. I only put "nutritious" food into my body- I rarely tasted food as eating what tastes good was foreign to me. I convinced myself "enjoyable" food was bad for me & didn't give me the nutrients I needed. "I" was the expert! (not!). I barely ate & refused to eat in public. I didn't enjoy eating at all- I actually considered it as a punishment. I NEVER allowed myself to eat sweets, & if I did I had to work it off by exercising. Food was not to be enjoyed.
After a couple of months, in October 2009 I was hospitalized again & was told I could’ve died. I weighed lower than 80 pounds; I had no fat on my body & consequently my body was burning & eating away at muscle- eventually the last muscle was my heart. My electrolytes were so off, I was severely dehydrated, had an irregular heartbeat & other symptoms. They immediately put me on IV fluids to get me hydrated as quickly as possible & to fix my electrolytes to keep me alive and functioning. My labs dropped to a deathly low level while in the hospital during re-feeding. I wasn't discharged until I could eat a 2,000 calorie diet.
In November, I got a severely high temperature; it seemed higher because I was so underweight. I started saying things I wouldn’t normally say & my emotions were a roller coaster. Because of my high temperature, I was delusional & was rushed to the ER. They then admitted me to the Psychiatric floor to evaluate my medicine, since I had just started a new prescription, to watch for any possible side effects. While I was there, for three days, I tried everything to appear “healed”- I ate my meals, cooperated with groups, etc. because I was literally scared to death to be there. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared in my life; it literally felt like prison & was the worst three days of my life. I realize that God had placed me there for a reason. While there, a little 10 year old boy who struggled with uncontrollable anger due to severe physical abuse was drawn to me. He didn’t trust anyone, but somehow, through smiles, kind words & God’s grace, I earned his trust. He eventually opened up & began to let go of his anger. The people on this floor were hurting severely- mostly struggling with suicide attempts. This was a scary atmosphere, but God brought me through it. I was exposed to the darkness of life; the problems we all face. I also realized that I’m no different from these people- we’re all equal. No one is exempt from pain.
Then, in November, I was so worn out from trying to fight this eating disorder on my own, that I basically gave up. I thought there was no hope for me & so I didn't even try to fight it. School was very hectic & stressful during this time. I was missing school to go to appointments & had so incredibly much make up work to complete. I kept dropping weight & people took notice of how "unhealthy" & "scary" I looked; they knew something wasn't right & would constantly ask me if I was on a diet. Also, I would run away into the woods behind our house to hide when it came time to go to doctor's appointments. I would throw a fit to prevent going- I would literally do anything to not go as I was always admitted & I hated answering all of the embarrassing questions of the doctors.
I was then hospitalized again, being at an even lower weight, & this time the devil came to get me. That night, after I had gone to the bathroom, I got up & everything went black. I could hear the nurse talking to me, but I couldn't see her. The nurse called "code blue", which means medical emergency, & nurses came running from every direction. A male nurse quickly picked me up & placed me in my bed. They immediately gave me oxygen & asked me a bunch of questions & quickly did an EKG of my heart to see if it was beating regularly.Prior to this commotion, after urinating, my body lost some of the vital electrolytes and fluid which were administered to me through IV fluids; since my severely malnourished body was suffering severely from Anorexia & just trying to survive, it literally depended on the electrolytes, nutrients and fluid- every single drop was vital for my survival. After losing some of the vital electrolytes and fluid, my heart rate dropped to a deathly low level and set off my heart monitor's emergency alarm.
Well, this time we decided that I couldn't do this on my own any longer; that I needed professional help. After almost dying for the second time, we decided on me going to Remuda Ranch in Virginia. I never gave up my eating disorder while I was there. My whole focus there was restoring my health & weight; it took me the entire two months just to restore my weight. I was on the maximum amount of food & supplements plus oral tube feeding since I refused to receive a tube down my throat; my body, however was not cooperating with the weight gain process. Also, the majority of my day was spent doing school work since I was only a minor & still in school- we did all school work via fax machine. While at Remuda they got me to the top of my weight range, which took forever. I had to eat so incredibly much to stay at this weight because my body did not naturally "land" at this weight. The staff there told my parents to NEVER let me get that low again- weight wise & physically. They said I was the sickest girl they'd ever treated- had I not gone there I literally would've died and it's truly a miracle I hadn't after all my shriveling body had gone through. I never got to the root cause of my eating disorder while I was there. I received physical healing, but was lacking emotional, spiritual, & mental healing.
I was then extended & sent to Remuda LIFE in Arizona & was taught how to portion food. I was put on more meal plans & was slowly weaned off of my supplements. I never gave up my eating disorder while I was there, either, as I manipulated my weight; I purposely tried to lose weight & then made myself weigh more by hiding heavy things in my pajamas, wearing extra clothes, etc.
When I returned home, I then maintained my weight for about 2 months. I was discharged with another meal plan- I began manipulating this again by not eating & purging what I did eat. I also began exercising despite my doctor's orders not to. Since my parents hid the treadmill key, I would go around the track behind our house for hours- until I could no longer support my own weight from exhaustion. I wasn't allowed to weigh myself, but found ways; I'd weigh myself on the Wii fit & would lose weight until my Mii was underweight. I also exercised on the Wii fit until I could no longer move. When I got back from Remuda, I began skipping meals & always looked for & found ways to get out of eating. I'd throw away my lunch, lie about it & refused to eat otherwise. When I was forced to eat, I threw up everything I ate. School was so incredibly stressful these last few months of my senior year- I had so much make up work to complete; I had to complete over twice the work of my fellow classmates since I had also been teaching myself at Remuda. Somehow I managed to graduate Valedictorian of my class; God truly is the ONLY answer!
On Senior Trip I refused to eat & purged what I did manage to eat. I refused to eat meals out; one time we went to Medieval Times & I picked at my food to make it look like I'd eaten by spreading it out around my plate & lied about tasting the food & not liking it; I did receive a rose, however, from my knight I was cheering for- my knight in shining armor! :) (random! Lol). I refused to order anything at restaurants & shops- anywhere. Senior Trip is supposed to be one of the best times of your life! Instead, I begged my parents to come & take me home even though I was in South Carolina. I was exhausted from not eating & just couldn't keep up with all of the activity we did. We walked an entire bridge, about 12 miles long, & I somehow managed to keep up with everyone. I got so lightheaded, blurry eyed & weak, but somehow managed to keep walking. I also refused to eat when everyone else was- I'd either say I wasn't hungry, didn't like the food, didn't feel good, etc. I pushed my food around & picked at it to make it look like I'd eaten. I lost a lot of weight from this trip. After we got back, we graduated! The grad party was fun for me- but not as fun as it could've been without my eating disorder!!
After grad I received my first job. I stressed myself out & became overwhelmed. Because of malnutrition, I couldn't focus & I constantly made mistakes due to not eating. I was so weak that I couldn't stand up some days for the entire shift. I fell head over heels with my eating disorder again & lost a significant amount of weight. I was then hospitalized again for critically low potassium & dehydration & had to call off of work.
I then became obsessed with work & began working extra hours. My whole life revolved around work & making money; I felt I needed to pay my family back for all of the money I’d caused them. Because my job was so active physically & mentally, I couldn't keep up with enough food to keep from losing weight. I was on supplements, but refused to drink them, threw them away, poured them down the sink or toilet, or threw them up. I lost even more weight & was hospitalized again against my will.
I then completed an Intensive Outpatient Program which I had started previously prior going to Remuda. A week into the program I was admitted to the hospital for what they thought was kidney infection. I had been experiencing severe abdominal pain as well as other symptoms & was rushed to the ER.
I began purposely losing weight again & went back to my eating disorder behaviors. I began cutting out entire food groups (primarily fats, which my dietitian could tell in my inability to think & say things clearly as I constantly repeated myself, also) & purging what I did eat. I was again put on supplements to gain weight but did the same with them. I either skipped meals (which was my preferred pick), but since I was restricting so often in the past, it was no longer an easy option- I was watched considerably. I eventually tried to eat my meal plan & to get everything in because deep down I really wanted to change, but didn't know how. I just couldn't keep the food down- I couldn't take the bloating & the weight gain- they said it would go away, but yeah right! Weight gain requires a lot of food- I NEVER let myself feel full previously! I was also scared of every food; it was too overwhelming to try to eat let alone keep it down. The more I was forced to eat, the more I purged. I tried so hard to eat, but just couldn't keep it down.
I was then hospitalized three weeks to a month later for crazy, deathly low electrolytes, & severe dehydration. Here they switched my antidepressants once again & I had a severe reaction to it; I became even more severely depressed & so my eating behaviors worsened. I was then admitted to the hospital a little over a week later due to the same symptoms: critically low potassium, dehydration, abnormal heartbeat, crazy electrolytes, etc.
Believe me, if it was as simple as "just eating", I would've done it by then!!!!!!!! There's so much more to it than just that- food is easier to focus on & "fix" then the underlying issues. Anorexia was my way of coping with the stress and life in general of this fallen and evil world. It gave me a sense of security and control (of course false sense) when the world around me seemed to be spinning out of control. Anorexia numbed the pain cutting at my core- the pain of emotions and even survival; it helped me to punish myself for imperfection. I’ve since learned to first look for things bothering me other than food, although at times it really can be about the food; I’d abused food for so long that it eventually became my enemy.
About a month later I was admitted to the hospital again mainly due to my low potassium. My therapist then recommended me to Selah House as she didn't have what I needed to get better & progress. I'd made multiple contracts & tried everything I knew to do to get better, but I couldn't. I took several vitamins & potassium pills daily to avoid hospitalization. I ate healthy, but it didn't matter- I wanted to lose, not gain. Instead of eating & gaining weight, I tried to just take vitamins & supplements (not weight gain supplements). I allowed NO food in my body & eventually even water was prohibited. My labs were never within the range of normal but were just good enough to get out of hospitalization. My labs would be terrible, but they'd give me a day or so to improve them & so I'd go in later that week for more blood draws. If they were slightly better, I'd get out of hospitalization. I also skipped doctor's appointments because I knew I'd be hospitalized if I didn't- I was terrified of receiving IV fluids, eating & gaining weight and did anything to avoid that. I had been poked so many times with needles that it eventually became normal to me. They had trouble getting my blood because I was so dehydrated & so they'd stab me multiple times, as in 5 or 6 times! When this occurred, I usually fainted! I felt like a pin cushion as I was constantly having needles stuck in me; I went for blood draws at least twice weekly. My whole treatment team was terrified for me & didn't know how else to help me. My labs were near admitting every time & my weight just kept dropping very quickly- I was rapidly going downhill. My parents couldn't allow me to lose any more weight; every day I was losing more & they refused to let me get as sick as I was before- almost dead. So we sought help immediately. I was given 2 choices of what was available since I required inpatient care; it was between the adult program at Remuda in Virginia or Selah House. I refused to try Remuda again, so I decided to try Selah House- they ran their program completely differently than Remuda.
When I got there my eating disorder was beyond infuriated- I was about to lose it. My Anorexia told me that since I wasn't as thin as I was at my sickest, I wasn't Anorexic & didn't need to be here- I was in denial. I was also mad that I had already received inpatient treatment- I should've already been "healed"! When I got there, about the 1st week my blood pressure dropped to a deathly low rate- less than 1/2 of what it needed to be to remain conscious & alive. I woke up that morning feeling awful- I was so weak & dizzy that I almost couldn't get out of bed and also had a high fever. I was put in quarantine & by around 2 or 3 PM, I turned as white as a sheet. I was then rushed to the emergency room; I was stabilized, released and spent the next 2-3 days in quarantine by myself. I was so sick that I couldn't be with the other girls in groups but instead needed to rest.
Then about a month later, if that, three of us caught the flu. I was extremely nauseous, but tried everything to help me since I didn't have a temperature yet and wasn't considered ill. After eating lunch, I became very nauseous again & got a very high temperature. I was put in quarantine again, with 2 other girls who'd caught the same thing. This was the week of the huge ice storm, so almost no staff was able to come to work- we had to make do with what we had. We were forced to eat the normal meals & they just made us even more nauseous & we threw up over & over, every time we ate. We couldn't force ourselves to drink since we just threw it up; everything put in just came right back out. So, they rushed us to the emergency room to make sure we weren't dehydrated- we had to do blood work; let’s just say I felt like death had come. At the registry I was so nauseous & couldn't stand any longer since they asked us so many questions & it took so long- I almost vomited on the administration lady, so I had to go sit down. Then we had to walk through long hallways to find the lab- we waited & waited in there, so finally I laid myself down on some chairs & put my feet up- I was so queasy & sensitive to the touch, so the blood draw was torture to me- it took forever!! We had to wait in the lab until both of our results came back; turns out we weren't quite dehydrated, so we were sent home. We all got out of quarantine 1-2 days later.
Well, after eating spicy black bean burgers & pizza, I felt so incredibly sick; the food was not digesting but was staying in my stomach; I tried everything possible to keep from vomiting- I accepted every medicine they offered me (which is extremely rare for me) since I was desperate; I didn't want to be put back in quarantine & I didn't want them to think I was "acting sick" purposely to try to lose weight. My pain continually increased & the bloating continued. After going to extreme measures for hours to keep myself from vomiting, my body finally quit working with me & I rushed to the bathroom. I was again put in quarantine; I was finally put on gentle meals & was only forced to eat what I could keep down. After about 2 days, I was released back into the group.
Here at Selah was exhausting- I worked incredibly hard to restore my weight and physical self, family, relationships, to work through trauma, receive emotional & spiritual healing while fighting against my eating disorder. This was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but so incredibly worth it! I FINALLY got rid of my meal plans/exchanges & learned to eat intuitively & to follow my body- there are no "good" or "bad" foods- this was a huge 360 degree turnaround for me; I had to completely change my way of eating & "follow my body". This took so much work & I'm still learning to live a new way! Also, we did intense therapy the majority of the time; by the end of the day I was exhausted- I didn't realize how I could be exhausted from eating & not even exercising- I should've had all this extra energy, I thought! I learned to challenge this cognitive distortion among many others! We were kept so busy 24/7; this was the most healing time of my life. I worked on my fear of men, worked on painful healing & forgiveness of the family to forget the past & start anew; I also worked through my emotions (I used a "cheat sheet" to figure out what I was feeling, since emotions were so foreign to me). At Selah I received the support I needed to begin the painful transition of letting go of Anorexia- my way of coping & to find a new way to cope. This was the Lord's battle- He was fighting for me once I let Him. God taught me so much throughout my life- I am so grateful for all I've been through! God alone brings true healing & freedom- He was my source of strength. I got to the root issues of the eating disorder which is a lot of work to look at what's behind my urges. This was among the many steps I took to receive true healing from Anorexia.