where it began

eating disorder: any of several psychological disorders (as anorexia or bulimia) characterized by serious disturbances of eating behavior.

anorexia: (nicknamed ana) - a disorder characterized by fear of becoming fat and refusal of food, leading to debility and even death.

bulimia: (nicknamed mia) - habitual disturbance in eating behavior, characterized by frequent episodes of grossly excessive food intake followed by self-induced vomiting to avert weight gain.

thinsporation: (short for thin inspiration) (nicknamed thinspo)- websites, pictures, and any form of inspiration girls suffering from eating disorders use to keep them from eating or gaining weight.

its the first day of sixth grade. i have my green and yellow polo shirt on, khaki shorts, and my hair pulled back into a loose ponytail on top of my head. its my first year in middle school and i left my familiar, comfortable, safe grade school to come spend three years in junior high. the teacher is going down the list alphabetically making the newbies walk to the front of the class and introduce themselves. my hands were sweaty, my throat dry, and my knees shaking as she reached the r's at the bottom of the roll. only a few more and it will be me. only a few more seconds til she reaches sutton. my keds squeak as i have to walk to the front of the classroom. as i walk by the cute boy i had been nervously and awkwardly trying to smile at all morning he mumbled to one of his friends, "ew look at that ham sandwich". i looked over and realized he wasn't talking about a sandwich.

he was talking about me.

i remember that day like it was only yesterday. i remember the way the chalk board behind me was decorated, the smell of speedy the hamster as he was racing in his tiny wheel, and the way my heart sank into my stomach the moment that boy called me a name. if only that had been the end of it.

since that day and for over ten years now i have been called every single name in the book. Ive been called fat, ugly, elephant, pig, cow, chubby, chunky, obese, disgusting, rolls, beefy, and had cow and pig noses made at me while i was walking by. just to name a few. Ive had pictures drawn of me, jokes created about me, and given the dirtiest looks possible. Ive been made fun of for my looks as far back as i can remember and even though i have always told people it didn't bother me, it did and does. every single time. because every time someone calls me fat, every time i walk into the room and people stop and stare, and every time someone tell me "you have a pretty face just not a body to match" it breaks something deep inside of my heart. something yearning to be seen as beautiful. something aching to be seen for my heart, not my body.

i have struggled with my weight since the beginning of my sixth grade year. i had quit the swim  team after swimming for ten years and that mixed with hitting puberty caused me to gain weight like crazy. with the weight gain, not straight teeth, and constant daily bullying i quickly became very self conscious and my self esteem started trickling off the chart.

the remainder of middle school didn't get much easier. i had been invited to lake birthday parties just to be left at the shore alone while everyone else went out on the boat. i was pressured to auditioned for a competitive cheer team because the owners daughter thought it would be funny for me to try, then fail, (but much to her horror i didn't just make the team. i made the high school girls elite team), and was bullied, alienated, and picked on daily.

i first heard about eating disorders when i was in the seventh grade. i watched an episode of oprah one day after school about girls who would chew up paper and eat that instead of food. of course they talked about how awful it was and the damage that their bodies were taking but to me i thought...

"wow, those girls are skinny."

i would say i first realized i had an eating disturbance at the end of my seventh grade year. after that oprah episode i tried the paper eating to suppress my hunger but it didn't keep me from being hungry, it just made me feel horribly sick to my stomach. i tried only chewing gum, sucking on hard candies, and drinking soda or water to keep me from being hungry. yet none of those things worked. i would end up going on a food spree, crying at my failure, and stuff my face with everything and anything i could find. the main thing i always remember feeling was guilt. i felt guilty because i was hungry, guilty i was eating, and guilty i was fat. before i knew it i was getting ready to go into high school and hadn't lost a single pound, had actually gained a significant amount of weight, had quit cheer leading after a knee injury, and was soon about to dive into a state of much deeper depression and a much darker world of eating disorders.

freshman year is hard for anyone. you are the little shrimp on campus and the seniors tower above you like goliath and you are david without your slingshot. over the summer i had started my period and with that had gained weight in the strangest places. i was chunky, brace faced, and awkward. most of my friends had gone to different high schools. i had one friend i knew from middle school and she quickly became my best friend. we would literally spend every single day together after school. she wasn't overweight, just short, and was very insecure about her body as well. we quickly became attached at the hip and shared a deep insecurity bond that fused the two of us together. i told her about my paper eating and disgust of my body and she told me about her struggle with self esteem. she told me about these websites, called thinspo, where they would help you lose weight. to me i didn't see anything wrong with them at first. they were just inspiration to not eat too much. but soon everyday after school we were browsing all the websites and i started noticing they seemed a bit strange. after a few weeks we had begun spending hours on the sites, would get upset when they had been shut down, and became more and more obsessed. we would memorize thinspo quotes and say them to each other whenever we had a hunger pain.

most of the websites i use to visit have been shut down due to their content but here is a sample of some of the quotes i would look into. some of them are worse than other. http://www.whyeat.net/forum/threads/3051-thinspo-quotes

"Bones define who we really are -- let them show."

"I'm not starving myself... I'm perfecting my emptiness."

"Starvation is fulfilling. Colors become brighter, sounds sharper, odors so much more savory and penetrating that inhalation fills every fibre and pore of the body. The greatest enjoyment of food is actually found when never a morsel passes the lips."

"One day I will be thin enough. Just the bones, no disfiguring flesh. Just the pure, clean shape of me, bones. That is what we all are, what we're made up of and everything else is just storage, deposit, waste. Strip it away, use it up."

as the page goes on the quotes get worse. there are also photobuckets, tumblrs, and myspace pages dedicated to showing pictures of girls who are unhealthily skinny to idolize. we would pick out our favorites and look at them and imagine us having those bodies and spend hours talking about it.  

after a few weeks of memorizing quotes and looking at pictures we decided to make "flash cards". my friend took "fat pictures" of us in bras and underwear showing all our rolls and worse features and glued our favorite picture of a disgustingly skinny girl on the other side with a thinspo quote on it. we would keep these in our backpacks and wallets and whenever we considered eating, we would look at our picture then flip it over to the skinny girl and chose to skip the meal. she also took our measurements and weight as a motivator for us to not eat. we would still eat but very very little. much to our horror we were not losing any weight or feeling any better. we were desperate, depressed, and done with hating our bodies. after a few month of thinspo encouragement we decided to take our efforts to the next level.

i still remember the first time i made myself throw up. i was in the taco bell bathroom at the local mall in my town. i had just eaten two crunchy tacos and a dr.pepper and my friend and i were shopping around looking for a swim suit for her birthday party that weekend. i felt guilty after i ate and went to the bathroom almost crying. the guilt was crashing on me and i started crying so hard i started dry heaving in the toilet. i had read about throwing up before but never saw myself ever doing it. "I'm not THAT crazy" i told myself. "i have a better grip then to do that". before i knew what was happening my finger was down my throat and i was throwing up the contents of my stomach. i cried at the pain running all through my body as muscles tensed and my throat burned. after i finished wiping the make up from under my eyes and fixing myself up i went out of the bathroom and told my friend what had happened. instead of being horrified like any other friend would she smiled and said, "good job". i only made myself throw up a dozen or so times in the years following. mostly it was after a big meal or i was feeling especially horrible about myself. every time i would make myself vomit i would text or tell my friend and she would be so proud of me.

she was my destructive accountability partner.

the next thing i tried was starving myself and got tips on how to move food around a plate so it looks like it had been eaten. my body never was able to adjust. i ended up eating alone in my room a lot and would chew up and spit out my food. i would get the taste of eating but not the calories. i told my friend i thought of a new way of eating and soon we started doing it together. this was the habit i spent most of my time consumed with. i made a game with myself that every three or four bites i took i would swallow one. that way i was still getting food but tricking my body into thinking i was eating more because i was chewing. i would also chew gum non-stop so i would have something to keep me from eating. i did this on and off for three years. this new technique paired with starving myself, then binging and throwing up afterwards, taking laxatives, and getting obsessed with thinspo weighed and attacked me all through the remainder of my high school years.

i was continually made fun of my weight, never had a boyfriend, and even tried meeting guys online to get the attention i was craving. after months of talking with a friend of a friend of a friend  on myspace who lived a few hours away i decided it was time for us to meet each other. he had seen pictures of me and i expressed to him my concern for my weight but he claimed he "loved" me and nothing could change his mind. we met each other at the vans warped tour all day concert and after spending a few awkward minutes talking it was over. from that one afternoon we went from talking every single day and saying we were "in a relationship" to not talking ever again. i begged and pleaded for him to tell me why he stopped talking to me for months. i knew the answer but wanted...needed...him to tell me. after i sent him an email calling him a liar and demanding to know i finally got my answer. all i got was one sentence after almost a year of being "smitten" with each other.

"when i saw you in person you were hella fat and ugly."

that was it. the end. if i hadn't already been horrible depressed and hated my body at that point i cant imagine what that would have done to me. his words seeped into every ounce of my skin and wrote themselves into my face. written onto my body he had no desire to touch. when i looked at myself all i would see is fat. all i would see is ugly. all i would see is UNWANTED. i had been rejected many times before but this time was different. this guy had gotten to know me and my heart and loved the person i was. but my looks were enough to send him running-fleeing- in the opposite direction. i spent hours drawing all over pictures of myself pointing out everything i would change. making lists of 100's of things wrong with my body. my calves are too small for my thighs. my toes are unattractive. my smile isn't white enough. my back isn't petite enough. my boobs aren't perky enough. my nose is too big. my stomach sticks out too far. i would sit for hours and write over and over everything i hate about myself. i became my own worst enemy.

my own worse bully.

after that summer i spent hours on thinspo, even made my own photobucket account, and would go on pro-ana and pro-mia websites to talk to people on discussion boards. i started taking laxatives to rid my body of everything i ate in a different form and couldn't eat one piece of food without hating myself.

i continued on with everything i was doing until the beginning of 2008. i had been battling this disorder in complete secrecy for five solid years and hadn't seen one result. in all reality i had gained weight and was in horrible health all the time. the friend that had been my accomplice started pulling away and we ended up having a big falling out. without her support and encouragement being there i stopped taking laxative and stopped chewing and spitting food. i still struggled with thinspo and depression but started taking better care of my body in a nutritional sense.

one of the biggest things that terrified me and turned me away from my disorder was my granny. my granny was my dads mother and she passed away when i was six years old. i never had the chance to know her and i never knew how she died. when i asked my dad he told me she had struggled with her weight her whole life. she would drop weight, then double her weight, and her body fluctuated in size for as long as he can remember. she was always on some crazy diet and of course like with any diet when you crash...you burn. my granny died at a very young age, somewhere in her early sixties, from stomach cancer. in her years leading up to cancer my dad told me she would chew up food and spit it out. one of the main things that killed my granny was one of the main things i had been doing for years. it shook me to my core. the chewing up and spitting out isn't necessarily what killed her but smoking, inflammation from poor diet and nutrition, and all the crazy fads and things she consumed did. of course i don't know why she made the decisions she did but I'm sure that like most women---she struggled with feeling beautiful.

today, after almost eight years of suffering with eating disturbances and horrible self esteem, i can tell you that i am the happiest i have ever been with my body. no i am not skinny, no i don't think i am beautiful, but i am making healthy choices to make myself fall in love with me and haven't looked at a thinspo sight in almost two years. i am slowly making the baby steps to get where i know i am suppose to be.

the next part of my journey is the hardest part. overcoming what i have left and making the right decisions. for the past two months i have been trying to eat right, drink water, track my calories, and swim at the gym a few times a week. in just a month and a half i have lost 15 pounds, improved my general health, and have started to become genuinely happy.

i know my road doesn't end here. there are going to be more struggles, more tears, and more guilty meals along the way. but i am finally free of my chains and the secret that has been plaguing me for all these years. the only person who knew of this part of my life was the friend i shared my disorder with and since i have stopped all my eating disturbances the two of us have cut all ties. i am not quite sure why i felt like i needed to tell people now after all this time about my struggles. i could have died yesterday and no one i love would have known about this part of me. i didn't journal about it or tell a soul and it was a secret i planned on taking with me to the grave. but something inside of me, something urgent, something yearning to be helped told me i needed to speak out. now. the only person i have told this to so far is my best friend of fourteen years. and though shes always known me better than i know myself sometimes she never knew this part of me. i felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders when i told her. she listened, she prayed for me as i struggled to tell her the embarrassing path i had led, and she encouraged me to write about it. so here i am. bearing all for you. letting you shine a spot light into the core of my insecurity.

i hope by getting this out in the open i will be able to continue on with my healthy life style, continue to lose weight, and continue to fall in love with myself. this blog will chart memories, struggles, and inspiration that i will find to help me battle my low self esteem. i hope you all will share your stories, insecurities and thoughts with me and we can fight this together.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."
-Psalms 139:13-14