A History of Triggers and My Journey to Recovery
By Brooke C--Hi, my name is Brooke. I am sixteen years old and a junior in high school. I have lived a normal life as a normal kid--so everyone thinks.
I am a good student, basketball player, and I attend church almost every Sunday. I have always been good at hiding my feelings and putting a smile on my face even when everything is falling apart. Do you want to know my secret? This is the story of my life and my struggle with anorexia.
I went to first grade and absolutely loved my teacher. I only had one warning the whole year and I cried for hours about it. This incident showed how much I am a rule follower and how hard I am on myself. My parents were totally okay with it and understood. They have never put an ounce of pressure on me. I will always remember that moment.
In fourth grade one of my best friends told me that I could not be her friend because I wasn’t pretty enough, athletic enough, or smart enough. I had always cared too much about how I looked. I was always a girly girly girl and always had something cute on. It just made me mad and made me feel even worse about myself.
In fifth grade I started to become a tomboy. I have no clue why. I started to care way too much about my appearance though. I compared myself to all the other girls and I decided that I needed to like all of them. It all started when I started to eat "healthy." My parents did not think anything of it because they were both healthy eaters also.
My sixth grade year I took it to a whole new extreme. I started throwing away my lunch and not eating breakfast either. I was weighing myself at least twice a day and making sure I was losing weight. I became an over-exerciser too. I believed that every time you put food in your mouth you gain a half pound, which was very irrational, but that is what I believed. Everyone was talking about going through puberty and your body changing, and I decided that that could not happen to me. I just could not. I would not go up a size either. I just kept losing weight.
At that point I had never heard of an eating disorder or anorexia so I had no clue what I was doing to my body. I was a perfectionist and wanted to be smaller than everyone else. I would compare all my problem areas to all the other girls. I was constantly disappointed in myself. I was still running and playing sports. I would not sit still. I would count calories and make sure I burned everything I ate off by exercising. I hated my legs and still do today so I would constantly do squats and lunges and I was always doing ab workouts. This was all after doing sports stuff.
The summer before my seventh grade year, my mom sort of got a hold on me and had like an intervention. I was not as stubborn then and we worked through these things together. All my thoughts were there, but I had no clue that they were eating disorder thoughts. I thought it was just me and my thinking. Seventh and eighth grade were miserable because I hated myself so much. I had all these thoughts that were like a bully in my mind.
I will always remember the day that I went to the sport banquet after the summer that I got better and got to a healthy weight and this dumb guy told me that I had gained weight. I cried myself to sleep for months after that. I never acted out on behaviors. I had my own food rituals. I would always limit how much how much regular food I would eat so I could have dessert. Dessert was the only thing that I would allow myself to enjoy.
During my eighth grade year my parents had mentioned wanting to move and I was okay with it. They just wanted a change. So we went to a lot of places so they could interview at other schools in other states. We moved a few days before my birthday. I was okay with it at first. I just did not want to have to start over and have to go to a new church and school and have to make all new friends. But soon I was miserable. I hated the school. It was a huge public school and I was used to a small private school. I hated the neighborhood that we lived in and everything. I cried every day for months. I was so homesick and missed everything back at home. We tried to come and visit every month or two but it was always too hard to come back. We ended up moving back eleven months later. We rented out our house so we got to move right back into our same house, same school and same church. It felt like I had never moved. My body image was worse than it had ever been. I was eating fairly normally. I started wearing makeup so I could cover up my ugly face too.
I went right back into my sophomore year. I was now 15 years old. My sophomore year was full of self-hatred. I hated myself so much. I have always felt different and weirder than everyone else. I feel like every time I talk, people don’t care and don’t listen to what I am saying. I hate it! I would cry every time we went shopping so I would avoid shopping as much as possible. I hated looking in the mirror.
I was playing basketball and even though I loved it, I was having a hard time fitting in. My teammates had always made fun of my lay up and my coach had always given me a hard time about it. I was one of the top scorers, but that did not seem to matter to anyone. The coaches were always harder on me than anyone else. One time my coach put a towel around my face and nose so only my eyes would show so I would not look down when I dribble. I was the only one who had to do that. All the girls laughed at me and made fun of me for it even though other girls struggled with the same dribbling issue. That same coach ended up getting goggles for me and called them Brooke goggles. She threatened me about wearing them during the games. It was miserable.
This incident just egged on the fact that I was different from everybody else. I was already getting sick at that time. I would skip breakfast and lunch and still go to practice and run the whole time. I was starting lose weight. I made sure I weighed myself every day. I was happy that I was losing weight because I was so miserable in my own skin. I still felt fatter than anyone else in the school and the ugliest person on the basketball team or in the school.
By Christmas I had already lost weight, which I was excited about. I had started throwing my lunch away and not telling anyone. My friends never said anything, so I thought that that was totally okay. By February I had lost even more weight and I was weighing myself at least twice a day. I was counting every calorie every calorie I was putting in my mouth. More weight came off. In March my mom started getting concerned because she started noticing some things and one of my friends told my mom that I was throwing away my lunch which made my eating disorder really mad.
My mom kept a close eye on me, but I would not let anyone get in the way of starving myself and getting smaller every day. I started body checking all the time. I started to use more and more food rituals every day. I stopped eating everything on my plate at dinner. I started cutting out whole food groups. I would not eat carbs or any kind of dessert. I was never satisfied with the weight I was losing. It always had to be even more. I was losing weight every week. I did not think anybody noticed.
In April my mom took me to the doctor and the doctor said I was still in my weight range but at the very bottom, which made me think that I was fine. Everyone was watching me and I hated it. My friends still never said anything to me which was understandable, because I didn’t think anything was wrong with me. In May I was starting to get really sick. Mom was starting to check out treatment places and stuff for me to go when I got out of school. I was losing weight really fast. I was way under my weight range at this point.
Over the summer I was doing worse and worse. I was losing weight every day. I would go days without eating. I learned new tricks every day. I would look at old pictures of myself to motivate myself to not look like that anymore. I would find even more ways to deceive people. I did not think people were noticing, but my mom says that people were. I went for my first assessment at a treatment center and I cried the whole time. There was no way that I was going to gain weight. Afterwards I was screaming and yelling at my mom. I was in the floorboard of the car in fetal position. I was hitting myself and the car. I said I would do anything not to go back there.
My mom thought I was going crazy. She eventually believed me and said she would think about it. She ended up looking for an outpatient team, which did not work either. Eventually I had to go to the intensive outpatient program and I hated every minute of it. I hated my dietician. I was there in groups with a whole bunch of 40-year-old women who were compulsive overeaters. I was listening to the advice that they were giving them about eating healthy and stuff.
I was there until about August. I was losing weight every week. When I was in groups I would not participate and I was thinking of new ways to hide food even when I was there. I was obsessed with thinking about food. It was like an addiction. I would get on Pinterest and look at the food section when I was really hungry. I kept losing weight throughout June and July and I got really really sick.
In the beginning of August, a couple days before my birthday, my treatment center referred me to a higher level of care. I have never screamed and cried so much in my life. I was so angry! I was so mad at my parents! My birthday was on a Saturday and it was the worst 16th birthday you could have. There was a huge elephant in the room. It was miserable. I was so sick. I could barely walk or stand up.
I started school on August 6th for my junior year. Everyone stared at me because they had not seen my all summer. I did go to basketball camp and I couldn’t do anything because I was way too weak. I was glad that I got to school and I was surprised my parents let me go, which was another way that proved to me that I was okay. I told them I was going to run away if they were going to send me to treatment. But when I went to McCallum Place for my first assessment, somehow there was a peace. I met Ginger and Liz and Jess Masters and they just kept me so calm.
So they set a date and that was September 11th. I told my parents that I could not miss homecoming week or anything, but I did. I was miserable. We left after school on September 10th. I hated my parents for it. I followed along thinking that I was going to get out of it. The morning of September 11th I felt a relief which was really weird. I did not have to hide any more. I was terrified of gaining weight and did not want to get rid of something that helped me numb out emotions.
I got there and I met with all my team and cried throughout the whole time. They decided to go ahead and give me a feeding tube. So my parents decided that they wanted to be in there and it was the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced. I cried so hard and that made it hurt even worse. My parents were also crying, because they saw their daughter with a feeding tube up her nose. They left that night and I never been more lonely in my life.
Over the next weeks, I ended up in the hospital with an IV. My blood pressure had to be stabilized. I was put on medication for anxiety. I was in the hospital for seven days. I was in restraints for 24 hours because I pulled out the connector from the boost bag to the tube twice in an hour. It was miserable and I considered that my rock bottom.
At this point in recovery I am about a week and a half away from discharge. I am absolutely miserable in my own skin. I think I am so ugly and fat and I don’t deserve to be at McCallum Place anymore. I feel like people look down on me because of my weight now. I feel like people think that I never had an eating disorder in the first place. I am nervous about going back to school again. One day I hope to recover mentally and physically and be able to be happy. Right now I really want to go back to my eating disorder.
One day I hope to inspire people and help people. But I have to recover first. Thanks for all the support. Thank you for listening and I am glad to know all the people at McCallum Place! Everyone is there is great and I have met some life long friends.
Image courtesy of The Love Yourself Challenge
*The National Eating Disorders Association does not recommend or endorse any specific facilities, service providers, support groups or research studies.