**Trigger Warning: This discusses anorexia nervosa and related eating disorder thoughts.***
She is the silent killer; known for muting her victim’s voices long before her first attack. She preys on boys and girls, men and women. She manipulates them into their own self-destruction, and every 62 minutes a family has a loved one to bury at the hands of Anorexia-Nervosa.
I can pinpoint the day she took over. The day following Superbowl Sunday in 2012, she started to win battles over my mind I didn’t realize were taking place. I enjoyed that Superbowl. As most 12-year-olds would, I indulged in the array of food our guests brought to our house. Sometimes I think, if I didn’t eat that second brownie, if I had just exercised some self-control, maybe Monday morning would’ve gone differently. I have to remind myself that’s her voice, not mine. I am not to blame.
Monday morning, I went on my first “diet.” For weeks, I would lie to everyone around me. I found endless excuses to evade the growing concern on everyone’s faces. There were even days I pretended to be asleep to miss dinner.
My friends noticed first. They used to compile their spare change to buy me a bag of chips, knowing whatever food my mom packed me was in a garbage can in my first-period class. I’d stare at the bag I didn’t deserve and refuse. Those were the first of many hearts she would break.
My mom was next, the biggest heartbreak. I tried to explain to the woman who gave me life, that I didn’t deserve the food that would sustain it. She helplessly watched her daughter deteriorate to a shell of a kid. Every time she would hug me, her eyes would fill with tears and she would beg me not to let myself disappear.
One day, she walked into the living room and found me under three blankets, shivering with lips that had turned blue. Anorexia-Nervosa told me I was building the body I wanted, but if you ask my mom, I was killing myself. Be skinny or die trying played like a broken record in my brain and her voice infiltrated every thought, every conversation, and every night’s sleep. I wasn’t actively trying to die, but becoming part of the mortality rate statistic wasn’t as scary as the bathroom scale.
By the time I entered my first residential treatment center, I was no longer a girl with an eating disorder; the girl and the eating disorder were one and the same. Anorexia-Nervosa became more of an identity than a diagnosis. Therefore, recovery meant redefining myself. After years of treatment, her voice became distinguishable from mine. I no longer permitted her to speak for me. At eighteen years old, Anorexia-Nervosa still only has one goal for me. I, however, have ambitions of my own. I refuse to be defined by a disorder. I refuse to be a statistic. Every 62 minutes, someone dies from their eating disorder. I am thankful every day it wasn’t me. I will graduate from college and pursue my goals, not hers. I still hear her thoughts but finally my voice is stronger than hers.
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