Living With Anorexia, My Journey Through Recovery...
When did I realize this started?
6 years ago, when I was exactly in 6th grade I slowly fell into a black hole. A hole of despair and uncertainty. A hole where there was nothing else but void. My best friend looked like she was thriving and I wanted to thrive too, but the only thing I focused on in her life was her weight. She was skinny as a twig and I believed that was beautiful.
I was in an only girl school, therefore criticizing was the main class. Everyone compared us, saying that she was skinny and I was "normal". For some people, normal may not affect, but for me normal was fat. For me normal was the worst word you could say to me. Slowly my self-esteem was deteriorating. I looked in the mirror and saw a pubescent ugly girl. I kept staring at her saying to myself that someday I would be like that. I started engaging in behaviors of counting calories, crying every time I had to get dresses... My family thought this was a puberty life crisis, but they did not know that it was way more than that.
What happened the following years?
I slowly started to participate in other activities, such as playing in an orchestra, volleyball, and dancing... I was in the swimming team for about 10 years, since I started at a very early age. In 7th grade, 8th grade, the beginning of High School I was a bit better since I was distracted from my own thoughts. Then something started haunting me: self-pressure. I wanted to be the best in everything, I wanted to be the perfect little girl everyone aspired to be. I wanted to have an A+ in anything I did, and slowly I achieved it... but at what cost? At the cost of deteriorating my mental and physical health. Everything became an obsession. Nothing was genuine anymore, everything was a haunting experience.
When did I break apart?
I am from Venezuela, therefore a lot of my best friends left the country for safety and political issues. Even my sister went to study abroad. I felt alone, I felt damaged, I felt like a useless spot in the world. I started feeling suicidal. Very suicidal. In sophomore year I started losing my appetite, felt depressed, felt like nothing would cheer me up. I quit all my activities. I locked myself in my room and slowly stopped meeting any of my friends, I was truly alone.
A few months later I started noticing some clothes were starting to feel baggy and I jumped on the scale. Indeed I lost weight, the weight that did not need to be lost. I became obsessed, anorexia started to creep in my mind again but this time non-stop. I did not stop I felt on the top of the world, I felt incredible because finally, I was achieving my goal, being a twig, a pack of bones. But slowly I stopped saying any words, I fainted in school, no one recognized me, not even my therapist. I was not myself, I was "anorexia". There was nothing left of me. I lost about 60 pounds, but that is irrelevant. IT IS IRRELEVANT. I did not lose any pound when I was in 6th grade and anorexia was there in my mind. Weight is just a side effect.
Those lost pounds took me to the darkest place of my life I have ever been. I was slowly dying, slowly killing my family, slowly killing my friends, slowly killing myself. My mom had enough, she said: "Make an appointment with a dietitian". And I waited, waited for a month, pushing it away, I wanted to lose more. I wanted to disappear from the world, I thought I was useless. When the appointment came I was scared, very scared, but I did not know that I was going to gain life again, I was going to speak again, that a dietitian would not be my enemy but my savior.
The darkest part... hospital
As soon as the dietitian saw me she said: "You need to be admitted". I screamed I ran, I tried to escape, but little did I know that if I had escaped I would probably be dead. As crude as that sounds I was slowly building my grave. So I was admitted a week later, in a grey room but at least with a view. My parents were crying, crying and crying. When they saw me without clothes they died inside. I was not their daughter I was something else, lifeless. My sister was away and I know she was dying inside too.
I made a diary, I read it recently and it scared me. I did not recognize what I wrote, it even was terrifying. Everything I wrote was suicidal, negative. I was in the hospital for 80 days. 80 days were I gained life but it was a hard road, a difficult path. But if I did not go to the hospital I would not be writing this.
What happened when I was discharged?
After 80 days, I was discharged. I saw what life was, I felt alive again, I spoke. I missed half a school year because of the hospital. Half a year without seeing my friends. I was isolated. I saw them again and it felt incredible, they said I was a totally different person and not because of my weight, my weight never came up. I went to school five months later. I traveled again, I went to Europe which is my happy place, I moved my sister to Los Angeles, because of anorexia I missed her graduation from college which I still punish myself for that.
A few months later I lost weight again. I did not let myself fall, I looked for help and I gained the weight back. Christmas came, and I started to binge. My body starved for so long that it needed food but I gave too much. I gained weight which messed me up mentally, then my dietitian helped me lose it in a healthy way.
Where am I now?
My senior year was hard, I attempted suicide several times. I was in a hole, this time in a depression hole. I applied to many colleges and did not get into all of them, my perfectionist self wanted to punish me, wanted to make me feel not worthy of anything, useless. On my last suicide attempt, my mom said I would not go to college. I said I needed to get the hell out of this hole and I listened to my happy self, to the little positive spot in my brain.
After 6 years of depression, anxiety and anorexia I am still struggling, I am still taking medication, I still struggle with body image, I still cry every day. But I have not starved myself, I have not cut or taken pills, I have been with friends, family and most of all I have been with myself. I have always been afraid of solitude but my therapist told me that being alone is not being lonely. Loving yourself is the first step before loving others. So yes... I AM IN COLLEGE! I made it... I made it, I am studying what I like: journalism and doing what I love: write. I have been through hard experiences in college, felt like I am not enough but I have tried to shut that not by keeping it inside but by talking.
So, where am I now? I am still standing as Elton John said. I am fighting, I am not recovered but I am several steps closer. I have been trying hard, I have been looking for support, I have tried to control my impulsiveness. I am not lonely, I am with myself. I need to work in myself, in self-love. The thing I know is that I am stronger, I am heavier yes, I am not a twig anymore but WHO CAREEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS! I need to love myself and so do you. I am alive and that is a miracle: NO NOT A MIRACLE CAUSE I DID IT MYSELF. If I did not want to recover I would be dead, completely gone. Let me tell you something, I have never been more alive.
Do you struggle with an eating disorder?
Do you want to recover?
Are you ready to be happy, to start your own journey?
© 2019 Daniela Perez Brugada