A First Act: One 19-Year Old’s Eating Disorder Story

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Growing up, I was the happiest girl in the world. My parents could not have possibly given me a better childhood. I always counted on them to make it all better. Unfortunately, I learned that there are some things that even my parents couldn’t protect me from, no matter how hard they tried.

When I was 6 years old, I was on winter break with my family in Puerto Rico. I was smiling and laughing while I played with my siblings in the pool, a boy around my age then approached me, and told me I was “FAT”. Two years later, I was in the bathroom at school. Recess had just ended and as I was getting ready to unlock the stall I heard two of my friend’s voices. One of them said “Brooke is so fat.” The other girl laughed and agreed. With tears rolling down my face I stayed in the stall until both girls were gone. Oh, and my personal favorite, 8th grade lunch when I was told that I “have the fattest thighs in the entire school.” These are just a few of my painful fat kid memories and trust me, I could go on, but you get the point.

When I reached high school, I hit a breaking point. I was done being the fat girl. In September I began dieting, originally to fit into a Halloween costume, but when I was still called fat by a boy at the party, I took my dieting up a notch. I began exercising more, eating less, trying everything that I could to lose the weight.

In the beginning my diet was normal, I was losing weight at a slow and steady pace, not taking the gym too seriously and looked forward to weighing in on the scale each week, but I always thought if I ever let myself have one unhealthy bite of anything, I would immediately end up back where I started.

So, I never did.

One day, a switch turned. My diet was no longer what I ate, it was my life. My day began by getting on the scale, this would determine whether I would have breakfast or not. Either way, I was off to the gym, trying to get there as fast as possible. On some school days, I would wake up at 4am to go, but most days I just rushed there after school. I measured everything, fearing that my calorie total would be above 700 each day. I was never able to sleep because I spent all night creating and deleting meal plans. I was always cold. Not normal cold, I would sit in the burning hot bathtub multiple times a day just so I would be able to feel parts of my body that went numb. My blood pressure was about as low as a dead person, my head was always pounding and my weight was the only thing that mattered to me. That happy little girl was nowhere to be found, but I still didn’t care. I would tell myself I would be happy once I was thin. Yet deep down I knew, no matter how much lower the numbers on the scale got, I would never think I was skinny enough.

It got worse.

Eventually my metabolism had stopped. My body went into panic mode, causing it to hold onto every piece of fat it could, and I began gaining weight. This was my biggest fear. I promised myself I would never be fat again and here I was gaining weight.  Over the course of time, I cracked.

I binged for the first time. After I realized what I had done, I threw up. Little did I know, I was getting sucked into this vicious cycle that ultimately developed into Bulimia. I was getting heavier and heavier causing me to restrict even more, but the thing is with Bulimia, you can’t stop. Every restriction was followed by a binge and purge. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t. I stopped leaving the house to hang out with friends, avoided all meals with people outside my family, and refused to go to school because I could not even look at myself without wanting to die.

When I finally got help, things became even worse. In the beginning of my treatment I was positive I was never going to get better, but then I realized the only one that could prevent me from getting better was myself.  I started going weeks without binging and purging but then I would cave and have weeks where that was all I did. My mom always told me that “recovery is not a straight line.” causing me to discover that I would get better, it would just take time. Slowly, I started making progress. I lost the extra weight and gained so much strength that I never knew I had.

Looking back at the battle, I was forced to fight the last thing I am is sorry for – myself. For the first time in my life, I no longer let other’s words determine my worth, I have not stepped on a scale in 2 years because the scale does not define me anymore. So please don’t feel bad for me, I am not ashamed, I am proud of my journey and the person I have become.


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1 Comment

  1. Paula Sussman LCSW on

    Beautifully written, I am a recovered Anorexic I developed the disease in 1975, when no one understood it. It took 3 years to be diagnosed and another 4 to reach recovery. For the past 38 years I have specialized in treating Eating Disorders, lectured extensively to both professionals and the public. You are a warrior as are all who battle this illness, I always say if you are able to get into recovery than there will be nothing in your life that you will not be able to get through. My journey has enabled me to be who I am-I am grateful that I went through it.

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