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.
Brooke Cohen is a rising sophomore at Elon University, pursuing a major in Sport Management. She is from Livingston, New Jersey and writes a blog called Sincerelybc. She is also a writer for the Elon chapter of Her Campus, and plans to continue writing in to upcoming semesters.