Eating Disorders | Teen Ink

Eating Disorders MAG

July 30, 2016
By Jessica_Zou SILVER, Puyallup, Washington
Jessica_Zou SILVER, Puyallup, Washington
7 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.

“You need to go into the hospital,” a blonde woman in a white robe told me, “Do you understand what I mean?” At the time, I couldn’t really concentrate on listening to my doctor, instead, I was staring at the stack of magazines behind her. That model. Her endlessly long legs and tiny waist were barely covered in a dark purple swimsuit. Thoughts of what I would do to look like her filled my mind. And instead of looking at the doctor, my eyes drifted off at the latest issue of Vogue.

My doctor sighed in exasperation, “We’re going to weigh you.” I snapped back into the idea of getting weighed and I froze into an icicle. Oh gosh I’ve gained so much. No, I haven’t weighed in so long I don’t want to see how fat I am. I hate scales.

My mom pulled me up and led me to the very back of the clinic. A nurse pressed me against a wall and said, “Five foot, three and a half inches.” I nodded. I haven’t grown an inch since last year. The scale awaited me as I bent down and took off my shoes. Pressure grew in my chest. I heard my own heart pounding, each beat a little weaker than the one before. As I got back on my feet, the world blurred with splashes of darkness. I closed my eyes to steady myself, but the ringing in my ears hurt more when I couldn’t see. My feet stumbled towards the scale and I held onto the wall as I stood still, avoiding seeing the gigantic number that would pop up. The nurse hesitated and told my mother a little too loudly, “Exactly seventy-eight pounds.” I was elated. I lost weight! I didn’t gain at all. It’s gonna be okay… I looked back at my mom with a smile, but as soon as our eyes met, my smile faded immediately. Tears flooded out the corners of her eyes.

Back in the car, my mom sat silently. I took the medical report from her hands and quickly scanned over the whole page. I stopped at the line that read “... diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.” I wanted to tell my mom the doctor was wrong, that I don’t have a problem, that I wasn’t sick, but exhaustion was the only thing I felt. My head fell onto the window and I gazed out the window as my mom drove to a nutritionist.

How did I ignore the looks and whispers at school? Why did I not question my “suddenly” baggy clothing? How did I not realize that I lost more than thirty pounds in one summer? Looking back, I understood why. I was trapped, obsessed, in love, being tortured, and emaciated at the same time. Confusion couldn’t have lead me anywhere or let me  connect with my own body. The consequences of systematically starving myself has came together and attacked me at once that fall.

So many people glamourize eating disorders, and it angers me so much. That day, my whole life was taken away from me because of my eating disorder. With a simple doctor’s note, I could no longer dance, I couldn’t participate in extracurriculars, and I now had appointments taking up all my time. Eating disorders are not what the media makes them out to be. Unlike myself, most sufferer are not at a dangerous weight. Many are still struggling in recovery while hundreds of victims do not even know they have an eating disorder. Tumblr and instagram can make an eating disorder look so romantic and glamorous. Anorexia is not what “thinspo” shows.   Many pro-eating disorder accounts envision the disease as a perfectly skinny girl in a short skirt with gorgeous hair and knee high socks. In reality, I lost about half of my hair from malnutrition and froze in anything that didn’t cover my body head to toe. I couldn’t even wear fashionable clothing because I felt freezing every single second. Anorexia isn’t just a thigh gap. It’s losing my period, risking the loss of bone density forever, and nails that’ll break when I feel them. It is hair starting to grow all over my back because I couldn’t keep warm. It is isolation from my friends and family.

Many people asked me what it felt like to not want food and I would answer, “I have no idea.” I wanted food all the time. I was STARVING and that was all I could think of. I was so hungry that I would just watch cooking shows and stare at food pictures for hours. But no matter what, I compelled myself to not eat or I’ll lose my values,  my emotions, and I would be a failure. That was how hard it was. I was obsessed with my worst fear. That is what Anorexia is, being your own demon.

I’ve always wondered what caused my eating disorder. Like many others, I assumed it was just my vanity, my wish to impress others, to be accepted and beautiful. But during recovery, I realized that was not the root of my problem, it was merely the way I chose to cope with hardship. Of course, before my illness, I worried a lot about my appearance and what others thought about me, which was a flame of my eating disorder, waiting to be ignited. If I truly deprived myself of nutrition to have a good figure, why could I not eat when I looked sick. When I lost my butt? When I lost my boobs? If all I cared about was looking beautiful, I would have stopped dieting, but for me, it became an addiction.

Weight loss was the only thing that made me feel important. It gave me a sense of confidence and attention nothing else in my life has given me. In the past, I was used to being excluded, the one friend in the group that felt unimportant. No matter how many As I received in school, it was no surprise to my family. No matter what accomplishment I achieved, more advice on improvement came at me than compliments. While drinking alcohol allowed others to feel free, seeing the number on my scale drop made me elated. Food restriction was my addiction, my drug. It gave me confidence and a way to cope with my faults. To worsen the matter, dieting was “socially acceptable.”

This summer, my eating disorder took away many opportunities. I was accepted at a summer camp at Yale University, but I couldn’t attend. I also received a scholarship for a youth diplomacy summit in Washington D.C, yet recovery stood in the way of that too. Sure, I was devastated at first, but my priority is not only recovering, but reinventing myself. No more tormenting myself, no more self-loath, no more not being good enough.

In a society that drives off of criticism and perfection, I am working towards loving myself and accepting my flaws.

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This article has 3 comments.

on Apr. 24 2017 at 11:26 pm
joyashford BRONZE, West Chester, Pennsylvania
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We're all human, aren't we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving."

No matter how dangerous doctors tell us anorexia is, it seems someone will always glamorize it, or trivialize it, or praise the effects without realizing where they come from... thank you for being brave and speaking the truth.

on Aug. 18 2016 at 11:29 pm
Jessica_Zou SILVER, Puyallup, Washington
7 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.

I'm glad you liked it!

on Aug. 13 2016 at 6:56 pm
socialkaysualty PLATINUM, Dover, Delaware
25 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;

That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

powerful. thank you for sharing