My personal history with anorexia nervosa began in my late teens. Unfortunately, I fit the exact stereotype of a girl with an eating disorder. For me personally, the anxiety I was dealing with at that time in my life manifested in such a way. I went through some major life changes: my school closed so I was relocated to a new school, I was separated from many of my friends that I had been with for most of my school career, and I felt as though I had zero say in my life due to an over controlling mother. I hate to sound as though I am speaking poorly of my mother. That is not my intention. To say that I had freedom for the first three years of high school would be an understatement. I routinely did whatever I wanted, within reason, after school without it being questioned. My mom worked from early in the morning until late in the evening so I was free to do as I pleased. I do not feel like this was something I abused thus I was extremely thrown off guard when it suddenly changed.
In August of 2004 I started my senior year at a new school. I had instant friends within my cheerleading squad that I had been spending a lot of time with during the summer, so while I felt nervous I also had a group of fiends to fall back on. I had never had to worry about fitting in before. I was never worried if I was pretty or if people thought ill of me in any certain way. My new environment was more critical than I had previously been exposed to. I admit, I did not adjust to the new schedule as well as I would have liked. It was all so different. New people. New classes. More classes than I had previously had due to a different scheduling structure. New rules. Everything changed all at one time for me and while all this was happening, my home life was changing as well. While I had dated in the first three years of high school I had never really allowed my family to know about this. My parents had a rule, which I routinely broke, that we were not allowed to date until age 16. They were a bit intense about this rule. So I made it seem that I did not date as a way to escape the scrutiny. With my new friends I met a new boyfriend. This relationship was more serious than my previous relationships, as it tends to be later in high school. This seemed to signal some sort of red flag to my mother. Suddenly, she needed to know where I was every second of every day. She looked in my phone and went through my purse. She checked my email and snooped through my room. I had no privacy and my time outside of my house was limited. I was given a strict curfew. I was not allowed to go out with friends most weekends or at all on weeknights. It was a totally different lifestyle than I was used to.
As I type this over and over again I cannot find a way to correctly express how this change in structure seemed to slap me in the face. My relationship with my mother has never been a strong one. She is not a bad person by any means. However, she is not an easy person to get along with. Our relationship was the catalyst of my struggle. I was not okay. I was not okay because I was suffocated and my voice was stifled. Resistance was crushed immediately. I lived in total fear of her. I do not know how to say this any other way than to say: my relationship with my mother is toxic. Today, I am 28 years old and for the past several years there has been an almost total disconnect in my relationship with my mother. Sadly, this has actually been beneficial for me. I am free to just be myself.
The culmination of my disease came to a boil in late May 2005. Two days before my high school graduation. The school guidance counselor had called my mother due to the fact that I had lost so much weight I was no longer able to sit on a solid surface. I was less than 90 pounds. My hair was thinning. I had heart palpitations and my kidneys were in trouble. I was physically unable to eat due to constant anxiety and stress. My guidance counselor told my mother and my boyfriend’s mother and they were very worried about my eating disorder. I cannot say exactly what my mother’s thoughts were on this statement but I can say it did not go over well. Due to a kidney infection I was in my room. I had been sick with this infection for several weeks. My mother decided after this phone call that she would go through the contents of my purse. She found notes of a personal nature between myself and my boyfriend exchanged during school hours that she was very unhappy about. She called my boyfriend’s father. She decided to blame my boyfriend for my illness. At no time did I know about any of this. My boyfriend’s father did not respond well to my mother’s parenting “advice”. My mother came into my room. She was very upset. She forced me to eat a milkshake in front of her and told me I was not allowed to see my boyfriend anymore. She was not going to allow me to leave the house at all during the summer and I would not be permitted to attend college in the fall at The University of Akron.
I was 18 years old. I had been looking forward to this escape for years. I literally lived in physical fear of my mother every single day. I needed to get out. So that day I made a very impulsive decision that forever changed my life. I walked out of her house with nothing but the clothes on my back. She had taken my cell phone and my purse and I walked to a nearby friend’s house. My friend was not home but her mother let me come in to use the phone and helped calm me down. I was crying hysterically. She hugged me, gave me water, and called my grandparents.
The day that I walked out of my mother’s house was the day I decided to take my life into my own hands. Since then I have never lived by anyone else’s rules. I am my own person and that is a good thing! I have never let my voice be bullied into silence. I do not live in fear of physical retribution for mistakes made. I entered an outpatient rehab after gaining a few pounds. I learned that my struggle was not unique. I was not alone. I was going to get better. I wanted to get better. I cannot say I did not relapse. I relapsed after my freshman year of college. One year after accepting my diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. Today, I struggle every day with this disease. I was barely able to write this paper. I struggle with my relationship with my mother. Currently, I am planning my wedding and things seem very out of control. But over the years I have learned to adapt and maintain my disease. I will probably never be completely over it. How can I be? Anxiety is part of my daily life. I know now that life is about coping skills. Having these skills is what keeps me focused on my recovery. When life spirals out of control, I can control this disease for the better this time. I can improve on myself as person every day. No one that demands and expects personal perfection from other people has that perfection within himself or herself. Be free to be who you are. Because, who you is not how much you weigh, how pretty you are, or any of the anxiety that you may have. Just be you. Pursue happiness. Happiness is perfection.
This was harder for me to write than I expected. I hated that I sound whiney. I tried to be honest about my mom without being annoying. My mother was mentally and physically abusive growing up. That influenced so much of my disease. The fear was almost unbearable for me. I didn’t even recognize I was sick until it was too far-gone. I try not to look back at this time but look forward at being my own woman. Loving my supportive family and friends. I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful future husband that knows this about me yet supports me no matter what. My relationship with my mother, as well as my anorexia/anxiety has shaped much of who I am today. In the past few years I have begun to grow past all of this. I can make my own choices and rely on no one else for my happiness. I am pursuing my career and ready to start my own family. I can finally say I have controlled my disease. Anorexia does not control me.