It was a long and tiring day.
Quite honestly, it was probably a usual day for everyone else in 8th grade, but to me every day dragged on too slowly.
I got home from school, threw my backpack down and grabbed a snack. From there I plopped down at my kitchen table, opened up my green Dell computer and started to shuffle through my bag to find my homework.
Before I even had a chance to start said homework I got an instant message from my best friend. Excitedly, I opened it, hoping that she would have some news about my latest crush.
I wasn't wrong. Technically what my friend had to tell me was related to my crush. Actually, it was more related to his best friend, who she had overheard talking about me.
To this day I wish she had never told me what came out of his mouth.
"He said that you were fat." she typed.
I was 14.
Almost 200 pounds and around 5' 7" tall.
He wasn't wrong, I was fat. But prior to this announcement I had never truly considered that to be a huge issue. Sure, I looked different and I constantly wished that I was as skinny and pretty as my friends were, but I never had really thought of this as something I could or needed to change.
Everything changed the moment I received that message.
It's hard to remember exactly what occurred next but I remember deciding that from that moment on I was on a diet.
It started normally at first. I began to exercise more frequently on my parent's exercise equipment. I played Wii fit and tried to eat fewer after school snacks.
But it quickly turned for the worse.
I remember the first day I consciously decided to not eat.
It was during April Vacation 2009. I was home with my younger sister and grandfather. Nobody was paying much attention to what I was doing. After all, I was 14 and for the most part, capable of taking care of myself.
It was nearing the end of the afternoon and I felt starved. After almost 15 hours of not eating my stomach was rumbling and I was full of anxiety. Walking past the kitchen was a nightmare and all I could think about was eating.
I caved and ate a 100 calorie pack of Oreo snacks.
They tasted vile- as if they were a physical reminder that I had failed my one goal for the day.
I swallowed them quickly and went upstairs where I slept for the rest of the night into the next morning.
This behavior continued into the following months.
Every day I threw on baggy clothes, went to school, came home, exercised, drank bottles of calorie free drinks, and then would go to bed; always with some excuse as to why I couldn't eat dinner with my family.
Soon I began to notice progress. By April, I was down 50 pounds. But I was also down on friends, grades, and energy. I had run myself down so much that even watching TV became a struggle for me. All I could think about was food and how much I did not want to eat it.
I would like to add in that my parents and family noticed these changes. My mom often asked me if I thought I had a disorder. I always said no. I was just getting healthy.
That all changed in May.
I had gone into Boston on a field trip and met up with my mom afterwards. We went to Faneuil Hall and she treated me to lobster bisque in a bread bowl.
I hadn't eaten all day and spent my day walking around so the idea of eating this treat didn't phase me much. I knew I could probably burn it off on the treadmill when I got home.
But, when we got home after a few hours of sitting in traffic my heart stopped.
I don't remember the exact order of events but it went something like this:
I ran upstairs and into the bathroom. I took off my jeans and shoes and stood on the scale. It read 2 pounds more than I had been that morning. I dropped to my knees and started crying. All of my hard work had been thwarted; all because of that stupid soup.
That same week, my dog passed away and my grandfather ended up in the hospital after a car accident. I threw up nearly everything I ate for two days from incessant crying. My life was falling to pieces.
The next few weeks were a blur. My mom and dad began to talk about getting me treatment. I adamantly denied any problem but I knew something wasn't right. I knew I was anorexic.
8th grade came to an end in June, the same month that my parents sprung it on me that I would be entering a treatment facility two weeks later.
I was furious. I did not want to be taken into some hospital. My doctor herself even said that according to her records I had not lost much weight and did not fall into the BMI category of underweight. The insurance company refused to pay for my treatment, saying that there was no real proof that I had any issue besides acute body dysmorphic disorder.
But my parents were adamant, and for two weeks I found myself going in and out of treatment at Cambridge Eating Disorder Center; the worst and best thing to happen to me.
For two weeks I had to follow their routine. In the morning we would discuss our weeks and how the nights before were. Mid-day we would have a snack, where if you didn't eat you would be forced to drink an Ensure drink (a liquid protein substitute). Then we would talk more about life and body positivity.
Then came lunch.
Lunch was awful. They would order out sandwiches from a restaurant near by and you would have to eat them. Yes, you got to pick what you ate, but for the most part you had no say on what went in it and how much you got.
They tried to distract us by having various verbal games and chit chat through lunch. But it didn't help much. If you were panicking about eating, the ever thrilling 20 questions wasn't going to keep your mind off of it.
And of course there were consequences to not eating. More Ensure, probably a call home and a doctors visit. I'm not sure- I always finished my meal. I was very 'compliant.'
These two weeks went by so slowly. Much slower than any others in my life. And, once I left I wasn't recovered.
It sounds silly now but at the time I thought that maybe they had some quick fix there that would change my mentality and have me healthy instantly.
I was furious to learn that this wasn't true.
In fact, one of my last days there they brought in a speaker who said "you will always have an eating disorder."
That really messed with my head. I thought the point of recovery was for this disease to go away. But I have since learned that it doesn't.
Recovery isn't a quick fix. It's not a simple two week or two month treatment. It is a constant battle in your head to choose to be healthy over being sick.
It comes with a lot of depression and anxiety. I personally spent hours upon hours crying and stressing about the fact that I was being forced to eat and wasn't allowed to exercise. I was worried constantly that I was going to go back to my old weight and be bullied again. But I wasn't. And that came with relief.
I began to see my energy levels rise again. My friends and I started talking more. I was more willing to go out and do things. I even got to go to concerts and meet my favorite band.
However, as I'm sure you all have figured out by now, it wasn't all fun and games.
By the time I was a senior in high school I had relapsed.
I skipped meals, flaked out on friends, and was so obsessed with my weight that I would spend hours measuring each part of my stomach, arms and legs to see if I had been gaining weight.
And I had been.
My skipped meals and lack of self-care resulted in me gaining back a bit of weight. And I felt like the world was ending.
By my freshman year of college I began to notice my old clothes didn't fit. My favorite jeans and dresses were tighter than they should be and I had a meltdown. How did I let this happen?
I began going to the gym, cutting back food, and spewing worlds of self hate.
This lasted into my current year of college.
Now as a junior I often feel unhappy with how I look.
But, unlike 13 year old me who stood in the mirror crying at how much she hated herself, 21 year old me knows that I am not defined by my weight. Sure it is hard to realize, but I have more to offer than my body.
And even though I can be unhappy with how I look, and am constantly hoping I lose weight, I've learned that its more important to be healthy than skinny, even though that is something I still struggle with today.