How did it all start? When did I start worrying about every little thing? When did I start letting it eat away at me inside? Why am I living in a land of mental landmines, afraid of each and every step I take? I’m not sure I can narrow it down to the exact moment my life flipped itself inside out, but I can tell you this: I used to be happy. I remember a time when I was a bright, healthy young girl with an optimistic attitude and a strong faith in God that those around me often mistook for ignorance. It was the pure, childlike faith and unfailing optimism of someone unstained by the world.
It was that naivete and innocent heart that allowed me to be blindsided by a full-blown eating disorder that landed my in the hospital for my 18th birthday. Fun, right? Who doesn’t want to be rockin’ a hospital gown in the psych ward while nurses watch you 24/7 because you can’t be trusted to be alone? I don’t know at what point I fell down the rabbit hole into a rotted Wonderland, but I do know that I made a conscious decision to have an eating disorder. I glamorized it with pictures and video from pro-Ana (the name for anorexia personified) websites on my Myspace page (back when Myspace was cool!). I started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun to try this?” I wanted to see how thin I could get, and I didn’t care if it hurt people around me. In fact, I wanted it to hurt people around me, one person in particular. Messed up. I was just messed up.
I’ve always been on the small side. My mom was 90 lbs when she married my dad, and she ate whatever she wanted and didn’t put on any weight. So, it was partially genetic. But I went from a healthy slimness of 98 lbs at 5’3″ down to 82 lbs in a matter of only a few months. I just stopped eating. But I didn’t stop being hungry. Alcohol and cigarettes became my diet of choice, and I spent all hours of the night getting drunk and chain-smoking until I’d vomit or pass out. Not surprisingly, I can’t remember many details of those nights. And if you’re wondering how I accomplished the task of getting that amount of alcohol and cigarettes, it was because I was a PSEO student who spent my last two years of high school going to college, where those who were old enough to acquire these products were easy to find. Ironic, because I was dumb enough to do what I did to my body and mind, but I was smart enough to go to college two years early.
“The devil doesn’t come to you with his red face and horns…
…he comes to you disguised as everything you’ve ever wanted.”
And there was something I wanted. Or rather, someone. Someone I wanted bad enough to destroy myself over. We’ll call his name
He was tall, dark and handsome. I at least had the decency to choose an attractive douchebag. I won’t go into detail about all the ways he wronged me (and to his credit, some of it was my fault), but long story short… he wanted anyone but me, and I didn’t want anyone but him. Despite my artistic talents, intelligence, and musical skill (all of which he greatly admired), I was never good enough. So I convinced myself that I would show him how much he’d hurt me by starving myself to the point where dried-out mummies in Egypt looked healthier than I did. Stupid, right? Well, tell that to a heartsick 17-year-old who thought she’d found “The One.” I was sickeningly naive.
I survived, though. I had good friends that tried hard to get me to see what I was doing to myself. They tried to get me to stop and get help several times before I actually took them up on the offer. So one day, two of my friends drove over with me to talk with my parents about getting help for my eating disorder. A few weeks later, I was in the Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in the Twin Cities getting checked in to the eating disorders ward.