Tears welled up in my eyes. My thoughts were painful and overpowering. The last time we had watched a story illustrating Eating Disorders together, my now-husband was frightened. So much that he made the boldest statement sending chills down my spine: “I would never date anyone with Anorexia. I couldn’t imagine who would do that to themselves.”
Fourteen years ago, I was determined to be at my best physically. I simply wanted to be able to endure an entire college soccer game; and assure my coaches they made the right decision by offering me a full-ride athletic scholarship. The onset of my Eating Disorder was pure innocence. I watched my diet, designed an intense workout regimen, and began weighing myself daily to see results. Little did I know what would evolve from these behaviors. Before I knew it, I was working out excessively, starving myself, and weighing myself repeatedly. And, I couldn’t stop.
I was fortunate to have had an amazing support system, talented medical professionals, and immediate care. Though I remained in denial for quite some time, I, eventually, recognized I had a problem. However, outside of my psychiatrist’s office, I never spoke a word of my struggles. Who would understand? I would just be judged anyway. How could I possibly vocalize the fear I had in eating food? And, mostly, I was ashamed.
I have read numerous books, articles, and pieces on others who have experienced similar thoughts, feelings, and issues. But, never have I seen a show, film, or program that so accurately depicts eating disorders…until July 14, 2017. I had been anxiously awaiting for the film, To The Bone, to premiere on Netflix. I had seen quite a bit of publicity on it, and couldn’t imagine how eating disorders would be portrayed in an authentic way. As I watched so intently, memories of my eating disorder flooded my mind.
As Ellen displayed destructive behaviors, I couldn’t help but revisit some of my old tricks.
Ellen was asked by a doctor when she had her last period. Her response, “I don’t remember,” was the same one I gave to my doctor fourteen years ago.
I, too, wore big, baggy clothes–and, just like her–heavy coats and sweaters. On a warm summer day, my lips would turn blue with cold from malnutrition.
Ellen felt happy each time she so delicately wrapped her fingers around her bicep. Me. I was ecstatic when I pinched my abs, and wasn’t able to grab anything.
When handed her favorite candy bar, she shuddered. She was petrified the world would cave in, and she wouldn’t be able to stop. I sobbed uncontrollably from the same exact fear.
I, too, chewed food to satisfy some craving–then spit it out.
I, too, felt everyday was an ordeal to get through eating as little as possible.
But, what made me squirm most was when Ellen did sit-ups in bed, and found any reason to walk or run. I, too, was compulsive about burning calories.
It took thirteen years later for me to confess, reveal my downfall, breakdown my story, and share significant experiences from the time of my eating disorder. My goals at the time of publicizing my story were to start a conversation, let those who were struggling know they are not alone, provide hope, and raise awareness in the topic of eating disorders. Never did I imagine a film would come out two years later reinforcing the importance of the severity of Eating Disorders, and lend faith to those who feel defeated.
For one who struggled terribly with an eating disorder, I was tinged with sadness watching To The Bone. My eating disorder was a full-on assault–all-encompassing and consuming. I felt at war. When I was losing, I was winning. And, when I was winning, I was losing. There were many parallels to Ellen’s story and my story, making it extremely emotional for me to watch. On the other hand, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the way To The Bone, especially Lily Collins, detailed what it is like as the sufferer, and how it significantly affects close ones, as well. I am so grateful I received such incredible treatment and support to help me fight and battle such an imposing disorder. For me–I am terribly traumatized by how I felt at that time: light-headed, consumed, anxious, distant, weak, and unhealthy. I much prefer being happy, cheerful, engaged, and energetic. I will continue to do whatever it takes to maintain this way of life. It is well worth it.