As I approach the 12th anniversary of my Rock Bottom Car Accident AND a historic snow storm expected to bring “crippling conditions” to Baltimore, I reflect back on my journey of developing anorexia nervosa, and living with it. I try to recall the vivid thoughts that floated through my mind at the most critical points of my disorder. People often ask what helped most in my recovery process. I don’t believe there is a clear, definitive answer to this question, but I can tell you that multiple aspects contributed to the change of my attitude, thoughts, and motives. The first, and probably most significant, aspect that drove me in the direction of recovery was, indeed, that dreadful, traumatic car accident. It occurred on the morning after a horrible snow storm, which, in turn, created a whiteout and black ice all over the roads. It was surely an eye-opener.
However, there was far more to my revelation than just the car accident.
I despised the way I felt. It had no longer been about my image, weight, or body; it was my emotional.
I had gone from being loud and obnoxious to quiet and subdued; from animated and energetic to apathetic and stoic; and from jubilant and cheery to depressed and dismal. The main characteristics I had been recognized for were not only nonexistent, but I had become exactly the opposite. My entire personality faded. I knew I wanted to be myself, again. I just did not know how to get back to it.
I had returned home from college for winter break after the fall semester of my sophomore year. I had somehow earned a 4.0 GPA that semester, the best grades I had ever received, and I managed to endure a college soccer season; playing, competing, and contributing to the program in which I had promised to perform at my best. That December, at the time of break, my body weight was at its lowest. I was sick, frail, and just relieved to have survived such a traumatic event.
My family departed for a 7-day cruise vacation the following day. I robotically packed my bags, got ready, and mentally prepared for a week out of my comfort zone; a fear many encounter when struggling with an eating disorder. The entire week my family was urging me to eat, try things, take little bites, and enjoy the trip. They attempted to remind me that my psychiatrist had set goals with me; and I was not following through with what I had agreed. But, I couldn’t.
We returned home with ten days remaining in winter break before the start of a new college semester. My parents confronted me that evening, and presented me with two new circumstances. First, came a threat. They declared that if I did not gain ten pounds by the final day of break, then I would not be returning to college. Their explanation was that if I did not start making changes, then I was not healthy enough to be living on my own and experiencing college life.
My thoughts raced. There I was, standing before my parents, scared out of my mind. The fear of actually recognizing my issues were, in fact, so serious that I would not be able to return to school, was unfathomable. The only thing I could possibly think of was a girl who I knew who was so anorexic that she, also, was no longer allowed to attend school. And, everyone knew about it, and talked about it. If I was forced to stay home, my issues and disorder would have become publicly exposed, as well, and that, in itself, set fire in my eyes.
In addition to this challenge and threat, my parents offered me a reward if I accomplished the task presented to me: to go to the Somerset mall in Troy, Michigan and choose a designer handbag.
Between the shock of becoming that girl who we all hear and talk about; the one who is so anorexic and sick that she is forbidden to return to college, AND being offered a designer handbag, one I had always dreamed of owning, my motives quickly changed… And, my path to recovery from an eating disorder began.