Editor’s Note: CW – This post includes the mention of specific eating disorders thoughts/behaviors.
It was another fun Saturday night dinner with the guys. Everyone had paid their bills, and it was time for us to go our separate ways. Before taking off, I grabbed my friend Adam’s dinner receipt, and put it in my back pocket.
Nobody saw me do this that night, and they never noticed when I did it other times either. It became a routine to sneakily take receipts of friends who paid cash for dinner, and show them to my parents if they questioned if I ate when out with friends.
Curled up in bed starving at night was the norm. Verbally abusing myself if I considered to break any of the eating rules I’d made for myself. I didn’t have a choice in my mind.
That was the summer of 1999. Twenty years later, I’m still struggling.
That next fall was the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, and all of a sudden, I started receiving attention from girls that I never had before. I was loving not being seen as “just a friend” anymore, but then resentment kicked in for the people who hadn’t given me the time of day less than a year before. I was still the same person, but I had to go to dangerous lengths with my eating disorder to get to a point where I could be noticed. In my head, I had feelings of not turning back to maintain this attention, but also of going to even more dangerous lengths to prove a point.
This was nowhere close to safe, and my concerned parents sent me to therapy—which I didn’t take seriously and now regret. When the opportunity for help was provided, I chose to see it as a complete joke and to firmly convinced myself that I didn’t have a problem.
As thin as I became in high school, I was still not satisfied with my body, and it was time to move away for college. There was an upcoming fear of gaining the “freshman 15,” so I took matters into my own hands—especially since my parents weren’t around to monitor my food intake—and dropped down to the low weight I had been during the destructive peak of my disorder.
Now, I was seen as feeble and weak. I went too far, and finally had the scare I needed to make a change. Thankfully, that’s when I discovered running as an effective alternative to my abusive eating behaviors. I learned a lot through running about taking care of my body. Running also became an activity that I could share with others and an exciting means of friendly competition with races of all distances. I realized that runners come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s a community of acceptance with a common goal of an active lifestyle.
At the current age of 35, my negative body perception in the reflection of the mirror is still there. I feel this will always haunt me, but I am no longer that feeble teenager seeking to damage my body out of the need for attention and spite. If anything, struggling with anorexia has taught me to be more compassionate to others, as we all have our own personal issues and insecurities we are fighting.
It’s taken over two decades to admit I have a problem, but it shouldn’t have taken this long. There are many others out there that are afraid to admit they have a disorder, and if my story can help at least one person find their healthy alternative, they too can hopefully help the next.
Let’s not run this race alone.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Frank Humada is a graduate of Texas A&M, an active runner, and a proud supporter of NEDA.