An Internal Enemy, the Eating Disorder: Know the Signs

An Internal Enemy, the Eating Disorder: Know the Signs

Sophia Robertson, Contributing Writer, Greensboro NC

You wake up. It’s morning…again. Your mom calls you down for breakfast and you slowly pick up your sore body and walk down the steps. After leaving half of a bowl of cereal, you go back upstairs to begin your routine. In the morning, it’s just a few quick exercises: push ups, crunches, and the worst kind of jumping jacks because they are a jumping jack mixed with a squat. After a few minutes of sweating, you put on the day’s clothes. The day will be freezing, even though it’s only September. On the way to school, you look out the window and dread what is going to take place, even though it is just an average day for you. When you get to class, running because you don’t want to be late, you sit down and the teacher begins. He goes on about assignments for the upcoming week, but your mind drifts to other things. Your eyes get teary through the thoughts. As soon as class ends, you rush to the bathroom to let out a few tears in the stall. Your next class is across the school’s campus, so you only have a few minutes. Two minutes, one minute, move. You wipe your eyes, making sure no signs are visible. You don’t know exactly why you were crying, something just felt wrong and has been feeling wrong recently. You feel sadness and pain at the same time. It’s a deadly combination. 

 

The next class is freezing cold. Turn the air off! You think. The next three classes will be the same. Then, it’s time for lunch. You nibble on a few crackers and eat your snack bag of fruit. The next two classes drag by.

 

At home, you know that you have to do homework. You’ll eventually get it done, but there are more important things at the moment. You want to get your exercise over with. As you walk to the gym, you hold back even more tears. First, you get on the elliptical. Yesterday was five miles, maybe today you can get six done. You do six and a half. After running, you do some strength exercises, always building up on what you had done the day before. You walk home and feel the pain already sinking in. During your homework, you take breaks to finish up your long exercise routine, adding onto the exercises you had done in the morning. You made yourself a paper filled with at least 10 different exercises that you force yourself to complete every day, no matter how much you don’t want to do it or no matter how sick you feel. The exercises are already in a large quantity on the sheet, but over the past few days you have been doing three to four times the amount you originally wrote. Only a few more. Not really.

 

It’s dinner time. A few months ago, you would have eaten two bowls of the pasta, along with some garlic bread. Now, you look down at your skimpy plate of food. Man, I’m hungry. You only eat the one plate and get back to doing school work. Before going to bed, you look down at your dessert calendar. There is only one stamp for the month so far. Desserts were always your favorite. You used to be able to eat one piece of rich chocolate cake in a single sitting. It lasts you three days these days, not that you eat it much, despite it being your favorite. You created a calendar with restrictions written on the side: certain treats were off limits and one or less sweets for each week was an absolute requirement. You do a few more exercises, getting as much in as you can. Walking to your mom’s bathroom, you hop on the scale for the third time in the day. Down a little since last week. It could be more, You think, looking in the mirror. You don’t see the lines under your eyes that your mom talks about. You don’t see the skinniness or tiredness that your brother’s friends or family at your church talk about, but you do feel the impact: that tightness in your chest that doesn’t seem to go away, the ache in your weakened bones, the tears that come every single day. It’s the hunger, eating away at you.

 

For a few months, my life looked like this. I lost too much weight. When I finally saw a doctor about it, they checked my heart rate. It was 47 beats per minute, but two years ago it was over 100 beats per minute. The doctors were worried that I had permanently damaged my bones because I lost my period for over a year. My mental health declined greatly because I deprived myself of some things that made me so happy. Today, I am in the recovery process of a mild form of anorexia nervosa. I still don’t want to gain weight, even though I’m not even at the weight that I was last year and, as a 15 year old, I should be growing. Over the past six months, I’ve had to see three different types of doctors, sometimes all in the same week. I meet with a nutritional specialist, a doctor who checks my heart rate and does basic check ups, and a counselor.

 

I never expected to get an eating disorder, and I suppose nobody really does. I didn’t know the signs or why it happened, but I wanted to share some of the things that I experienced to help others identify it before getting in too deep.

 

  1. Feeling Cold All the Time
  2. Having Aching Bones
  3. Dreading the Day, Meals, or Exercise
  4. Exercising Obsessively 
  5. Having a Tightness in the Chest
  6. Getting Irritated Easily
  7. Counting Calories or Writing Out Meals
  8. Having a Distorted Body Image (you may not realize this, but others will see it)

 

Please note that these are a few things that I experienced to a significant degree. These do not apply to everyone with an eating disorder. With that being said, some people with eating disorders may experience different things, while some healthy people may do things like count calories, which can be good for some people. That was not good for me at my weight and to the degree that I focused on things like that.

 

My eating disorder has infected me for, at least, the last eight months. For mainly that reason, this has been one of my worst years. I had such a passion for food because my family loves tasting new things and indulging in rich treats on occasion. I can’t count the number of arguments that I’ve had with my family over food. I so badly want to not put a second thought towards getting a snack or that piece of garlic bread, but I always think about wanting to be healthy, wanting to be skinny. I think that I’ll always be changed because of this year. I’m just hoping that it’ll make me stronger instead of my enemy, that cruel voice inside of my head, sticking with me for years to come.