For my entire life, soccer was my identity, and I knew no different. Between year-round training, competition, and tournaments, my life had profoundly revolved around the sport. I lived to sharpen my game through constant skill work and daily fitness exercises. My accomplishments gave me pride and confidence, and most importantly, provided me with ongoing social and psychological benefits.
I had suddenly not only despised the sport I had once loved, but the mere thought of soccer made me queasy and highly anxious. Literally, the word soccer became repulsive to me. Through the entire fall season of my sophomore, I struggled to survive. I was lethargic, food deprived, and troubled. Any association with those feelings became painful. The dreadfulness I encountered regarding any soccer-related activities was unmanageable. Therefore, soccer became my nemesis, and in order to attempt any positive changes, I believed I needed to eliminate that element.
However, contrary to my wishes, my psychiatrist established specific rules to prevent permanent destruction. It was the first rule I agreed on abiding by that I attempted to perform. He instructed me to ask my coaches for a game ball, and then place it in my apartment bedroom. He demanded it be in sight at all times.
The command, though very simple, seemed unattainable at the time. I had become so fearful of soccer, the equipment, apparel, facilities, and people related to the traumatic experiences. Any recollections generated crazed feelings and, ultimately, I became rattled. Seeing a soccer ball in my presence became a living nightmare.
In order to successfully have attained this first step in recovery, my roommate helped make light of the situation. She and I sat down that night and named the ball, Mordy, a nickname to the Hebrew name Mordechai. It was one of her favorite Hebrew names, and saying it always made us laugh. So, Mordy became our third roommate. And, soon, the feelings of anguish when I looked at Mordy eventually developed into more promising thoughts. And, that was my initial encouraging step toward eventually overcoming anorexia.