First, I know that I am not supposed to post here, so please feel free to delete my account after this. I am sorry for ‘breaking the rules’ – but I really wanted you all to read this firsthand from someone who knows how hard and terrible this illness is. I want to start by saying that all of you are great. You are all heroes. You are always in my prayers. I know how hard it is to get through these illnesses. You have my upmost respect. I posted this here because I want you to know that there is hope. I have recovered and am involved in helping others recover, spreading the word about EDs, and I am a frequent writer for NEDIC.
I live in Ontario, Canada. I am nearly 20 years old. I was once very, very ill with anorexia nervosa. I am proof that all your hard work really works.
I became ill with AN at the age of 13 following experiences of bullying in school. My gym teachers also contributed to this by pointing my ‘faults’ in class – that I could not perform as others were. I was simply not a ‘phys. ed’ student – but that did not stop people from hurting my feelings and commenting on my body size.
I struggled for a long time without anyone really noticing. I was somehow able to avoid eating by trashing my food, giving it to others, claiming that I had already eaten, etc. The weight came off very quickly at first because I deprived myself. Then, as the losses slowed down, I realized that I had to restrict even more to lose. And so began the downward spiral.
Stressors like school, the media, and friends were not helpful. The media did not CAUSE my AN, but it certainly fueled it. Messages about losing weight, restricting before the holidays, not eating for long periods of time, etc. all strengthened the AN voice. Classmates who were on hideous diets such as not eating at all, not eating ‘junk’ food (and what exactly is JUNK? All food is good!), exercising for long periods of time….these all made the ED voice louder and louder.
I really fell downwards, however, in my first year of university. I lost more and more weight because I restricted more. I do not know what number I was working towards, because nothing was ever good enough for ED. Each time I lost weight, the only drive was to continue to lose more. Every time my stomach grumbled, I shut it out so that I would not feel weak or tired. But it soon caught up with me. I became very sick.
My parents and sister were the first to know that something was wrong. They realized that I was losing weight very quickly, that I was isolating myself, and that my personality had changed completely. I was no longer the fun, loving, and cheerful girl that I used to be. I became confined to my room, not wanting to see anyone or speak to anyone. Things that made me laugh no longer felt enjoyable. Any event that might have food was a definite ‘no’. I tried my hardest to escape the possibility of eating.
What I want parents to know is that YOUR INSTINCTS ARE RIGHT. A parent always knows what is going on with their child. If you suspect that your child is ill, please go get help. What is the worst that can happen? That nothing is wrong? That is better than finding out too late. Seriously, please, get your child to the doctor, to the hospital, wherever. You might just be saving their lives.
My parents took me to the hospital. There was no way around it. They tried very hard to help me at home, but I was too stubborn. Well, it was really the AN. The AN is so strong – it robs his victims of any sense, of any realization that they are ill, of any recognition that there might be something wrong. That is why YOUR CHILDREN NEED YOU. It is not that they just do not want help – it is the ED filling their head with ridiculous demands. They cannot see that they are ill. I could not see how sick I was. I was dying and I did not know it. BUT MY PARENTS DID.
My illness caused me kidney failure so I had to get dialysis for 24 hours. My heart was a level four grade heart – meaning that it was failing. I needed 4 blood transfusions because my hemoglobin was simply too low. I was hypoglycemic. I could not breathe on my own, so I was intubated twice. I was receiving multiple medications to stabilize my condition, so the hospital had no choice but to sedate me for the entire month of May 2012 (the amount of pain and medication that I was taking was too strong so I would have been in a lot of pain had I been awake). I was in the hospital for 3 months, in the ICU. This whole time, my loving parents were constantly by my side, hoping that I would survive this crazy illness.
I believe in miracles, because that is what happened to me. I recovered. I don’t know how, but I did. I have no doubt that this was because of my faith in my God, because of the prayers of all my family and friends, and because of the love that my parents and sister showed to me. They never left my side. They fought against ED when I could not. They knew that I would never get help for myself, so they took charge. THEY SAVED MY LIFE.
Now, I can say that I am in recovery. I believe that recovery is a lifelong process. It does not stop, because ED can sneak in anytime. But I am stronger now, and I know when ED is trying to sneak back in. I have taken charge of my health and am feeding myself, keeping myself healthy and happy. I am successfully studying for my nursing degree and I no longer isolate myself. I write blogs for NEDIC to help raise awareness about ED. I volunteer at my school to help others with eating disorders.
I am living proof that PARENTS KNOW WHAT IS BEST. To all those parents out there helping your kids with ED, you have my respect. I know that it is hard…I must have really caused my parents a lot of pain. But they loved me so much that they never gave up on me. When ED had his hands on me, they stepped in to free me. When ED nearly took my life, they intervened and got help for me. When they saw that I was too weak to help myself, they became my strength and saved me.
ED is a deadly illness. I am proof of that – I nearly lost my life at 19 to this terrible monster. And every day, I see people who are falling victims to ED because their parents or loved ones refuse to do anything or are not aware. I’m trying my best to advocate to others to help them understand what ED is and what it can do to people. ED does not discriminate – boys and girls, old and young, rich and poor, and all cultures. This illness is devastating. Everyone who is ill with ED deserves to get help, to live a life free from his clutches. I would not have been alive today if it were not for my parents, my sister, and
organizations like FEAST and NEDIC that strengthen parents and caregivers to help their loved ones. Keep doing what you are doing. Because you never know whose live you are saving, whose heart you are touching, and whose arms you are strengthening. You are all wonderful people who are making a difference. I admire and honour you, and want you to know that all of you are heroes. I am forever in debt to you all, as well as to my loving and strong parents and sister who never gave up on me, and who kept the faith and hope that recovery was possible. Because it is. I am proof of it.
Each day as I open my eyes, I remember the amazing love that my parents and sister showed towards me. They are my superheroes. They are the reason that I am alive today. They are my best friends, my caregivers, my rocks, and my protectors. They are my guardians. To all parents and families caring for one with ED, know that you are the same to your loved on. They might not realize it right now because they are sick. But I guarantee that one day, they will know it. And they will look into your eyes and smile because they know that you are the reason that they have survived this illness. They might not have the words to say it – but they will know. And you will know too. I promise you that your relationship with them will never be the same again, because you will no longer simply be their parents – you will be the reason that they are alive and healthy. You will be the heroes that fought for them and never gave up hope. You will be the source of life to them, the reason that they have defeated ED. You will be the special people in their lives who will have made the biggest difference.
If there is any way I can support anyone, please let me know. If I can help with FEAST or ATDT forum, please let me know as well. I dedicate much of my time (when I’m not studying or writing!) to help get the word around about EDs.
I want you all to know that each parent or poster here is in my prayers and heart. I am proof that things get better. Even if it hurts now and feels hopeless, ignore it. Because things will and DO get better. It just takes a couple spoons of love, a few pinches of patience, a cup of hope, and a plate of determination.
There’s the true recipe for recovery.