For eight months, I had been restricting my food intake. I was starving myself. I had not eaten a proper meal in almost a year. But no one knew. I covered it up well. If I was in public, ate enough so no one would ask questions, then went home and took enough laxatives to get rid of everything I ate plus more. I was dying inside. I was blacking out multiple times a day, passing out and fainting. I kept exercising because I needed to keep losing more weight. I developed a severe aversion food and could not even chew or swallow anymore. And at this point it wasn’t about the weight loss anymore. It was about the feelings of power and control I thought I had. The feelings I didn’t have when I was abused as a little girl, those feelings were stolen from me and I was trying to get them back, desperately. I felt strong when I didn’t eat. But in truth, I was weak. I was afraid. I was afraid of rejection, my body, and my feelings. I was afraid of dealing with the demons that I had pushed aside for so long. The demons that no longer would remain silent. However, all I did was strengthen these demons by starving myself. I reinforced their idea that I was worthless, that I did not deserve to eat, that my body needed fixing, and that my body somehow failed me in the past.
I was fainting every day at this point. I knew it was not normal, yet insisted it was totally fine because it was happening every day. I told my therapist who gently explained I had an eating disorder. I denied it, it just couldn’t be true, I wasn’t thin enough. After all, I was morbidly obese! I told a couple of close friends. They too insisted I had an eating disorder. I stopped talking to them. I told one of my closest friends and he just listened. He told me I’m not fat. He told me I need to eat. But then after a little while he told me he is scared and concerned and did some research and thinks I have an eating disorder. For some reason, he got through to me eventually. But I still refused to do anything about it. I said I would be ok. He got Meyer Seewald involved. They got me hospitalized. They got me into treatment. It was painful. I fought it tooth and nail. But I was finally able to admit it- I have an eating disorder. I am malnourished. I am dying. But Jewish Community Watch saved my life. I am no longer being sexually abused. I am an adult survivor, free to make my own choices. But JCW was there for me, to catch me when I fell. They helped me recover from the trauma that I was dying from, physically and emotionally.
“I destroyed my body for a peace of mind I never got.”
Isn’t that what we all want? Peace of mind? To not feel like the scared little child being abused and raped over and over despite their cries to stop? Don’t we all want to recover from the traumas we somehow endured, somehow survived? Now we want to thrive. But how? I thought I was doing it right. I thought I would end up stronger, in control of my body, and on top of that I would finally have the figure I always wanted. But what I ended up with was failing organs, a heart that could barely pump enough blood to my whole body, and a whole host of other physical problems. My hair was falling out. My brain function was low. My blood pressure was low. My kidneys were failing. I did not have enough electrolyte. I was at risk for osteoporosis. And I destroyed my metabolism, the exact opposite of what I had hoped to achieve. So as I start treatment, I may gain weight. But at least I will be alive.
Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that we do not pay enough attention to. They are often equated with vain teenage girls trying to look better than the other. However, that is not the reality. We don’t choose the mental illnesses we have. Eating disorders have a biological and genetic component as well. No one chooses to have an aversion to food. No one chooses to have kidney failure. No one chooses to have body dysmorphia. It is a reaction to trauma or social issues. I am just starting treatment, but all I can tell you is that it is the most painful, the most difficult journey I have been through. But I am choosing to live. Because I have so much to live for. Thank you Jewish Community Watch for believing in my life and for saving me.