National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Stick Figures are Just Stereotypes
By Kelly

I don't know when exactly my eating disorder started. I used to think there was a distinct moment in time when it all began. But now, it all blends together.  Our family lived in an upper-class white suburban town where appearance and success was very much noted.  My mom was the first Vice President of a Bank in San Francisco during the early 1990s, as a woman in her field trying to be successful, appearance must have played a large role. This was, of course, was unspoken.  My parents never told me to "be thin."  They never told me to "be successful."  These are unconscious cues that I learned on my own. I have always been an athlete, and had always strived for success.  My parents started me with sports at a young age and I was apparently very good.  I continued on with soccer throughout my life, playing at every competitive level, from state and regional, and eventually in college.  When I was 12, I was on a travel team with many of my best friends and enjoyed their companionship. I was also easily influenced and got into trouble. During this time, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to become anorexic with her. I didn't know what that was; it still was not spoken about publicly at the time. As an athlete, I fell through the cracks for years.  I had an athletic body, and I had an eating disorder. I was considered "not too skinny" or "not skinny enough" and I got away with having a low heart rate because "athletes have low heart rates."  I used every excuse in the book to make sure that I was able to stay just above that line.  It's unjust that medical professionals let me fall through those cracks for so many years, and I see that awareness is still needed.  It was inexcusable that I treated myself so horrifically for so many years, and I am now aware that I treated my body with such disregard.  I went to college on scholarship for soccer.  During the summer after my freshmen year, I fainted in the middle of the street and had a seizure as I was getting into my car to drive.  I had blacked out for more than 5 minutes, so I don't remember walking to my car, or out of my apartment.  I was going to pick up my roommate and the last thing I remember is walking inside.  I regained conciousness on the floor in the middle of road.  The seizure could have happened for many reasons, but what scares me most is what if it happened 5 minutes later while I was driving my friend? What if I had hit someone else?After this event, I took a summer off and decided to enter a residential treatment facility.  I was there for quite some time and it was the first time in 15 years that I consistently fed my body for days straight.  I came back with the intention of re-entering college, coming back to the soccer team and getting back to my goal towards professional soccer.  Instead I re-entered school, and entered an outpatient treatment program.  I continued that outpatient program for the next four years.  I refused to leave until I understood the depths of my eating disorder.  I was determined to maintain my recovery. I wanted to know the answers surrounding this eating disorder, and  more importantly, I did not ever want to go back.  Not to my eating disorder and not to that cold cement floor. Where did my eating disorder came from? Why did I have it? What has caused it? What drove it? What can I do? What is next? When I was first began recovery I was scared to say that I was actually "in recovery."  I used to believe that with eating disorders the only way to be in recovery is to "act in recovery."  And for me that was a hard thing to grasp, because there were times when I just really needed or wanted my eating disorder, even while in recovery.  I am smarter now to know that as long as each day looks different, and the cycle doesn't keep repeating itself, we are moving forward. We are all in our own stages of recovery.  Some are recovered one day.  Others are just one hour, a few of us one year, and even more of us, 10 years.  Me, I'm not even counting anymore. I'm here to support. Recovery is inspiring to me.  There is something so bold and powerful in the action of recovery.  My recovery has been an emotional, heartfelt process followed by incredible support and personal strength.  It is as much of a challenge as it is a gift.  Today, I am a much better person because of my journey and because of those struggles.  Even on my hardest and saddest days, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  Recovery was once an unspoken word in my vocabulary,  now, it is everything to me.


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