Struggling Through Recovery
Lanie Sanders recounts her personal difficulties with an eating disorder
November 18, 2019
“Am I going to have to start weighing you again?”
My dad asked me after noticing how thin my face looked. My heart stopped. A wave of cold rushed over my body and I froze. My hands became clammy and a sinking feeling grew in my stomach. Looking down to avoid eye contact I mumbled that I was fine and prayed he would just drop it.
Every week I would have to walk into my parents’ bathroom, arms wrapped around my stomach and so incredibly ashamed of myself. It was looking at my dad in the eyes as I stepped onto the scale, feeling this incredible sense of self-hatred because I knew I was letting him down. Every week I would look between my feet and feel a mixture of emotions. To some extent I was happy, seeing the number slowly trickle down. But on the other hand, I was frustrated that the number wasn’t as low as I had hoped.
It was standing in my bedroom and measuring my ‘success’ by how loose my favorite pair of jeans would be. When I noticed them getting too tight for my liking, I didn’t eat. But as my parents started to notice, it became harder and harder to hide what I was doing.
I would skip breakfast every morning because “I didn’t have time,” either throw away my lunch at school, pawn it off to a friend, or eat my only meal for the day. I would say we were getting food in one of my classes, or that I ate when I got home from school so they wouldn’t make me eat dinner. And when they did I would eat as little as possible to prevent myself from feeling the all-encompassing guilt that surrounded my consumption of food.
I tried to fix myself.
I would force myself to eat full meals because I knew how unhealthy my behavior was. But that made me sick. I tried snacking throughout the day to prevent me from feeling sick, but then I would inevitably binge on something and then fall into the same cycle of binging and purging.
For Christmas one year, I asked for Crest white strips so my teeth wouldn’t be discolored, because I was doing everything in my power to hide my behaviors from my friends and family. I started wearing oversized clothes so my dad wouldn’t notice the change in my frame.
For me it wasn’t Barbie dolls or social media, it was just a general hatred of the way I looked. It was getting my seventh-grade yearbook photo back and crying because of how fat my face looked, and then deciding that it needed to change.
For me it was asking a friend to borrow her hoodie in seventh grade gym and her saying no because “it would be way too small” for me.
I was in seventh grade, wanting to be able to wrap my hands around my thighs.
I was in seventh grade, watching YouTube videos on how to lose 10 pounds in three days.
I was in seventh grade, researching how much liposuction was and how hard I would have to work to get it as soon as I turned 18.
There was a time in freshman year where I noticed that I could see my ribs, and I remember crying tears of joy because I was finally satisfied with the way I looked.
And then one day it finally clicked for me. It was at a softball game, in near 100 degree heat. The day had been pretty long for me, I had played two games already and didn’t have much time to rest. I was standing in my position, getting ready for the pitch when I started to feel sea sick.
The world around me seemed to move in wavelike motions and I was trying my hardest to stay afloat. Overheating was nothing new to me, so I tried to take a few deep breaths and stick it out for the rest of the inning; but this time something was different.
As I called for a time-out I realized that I couldn’t hear anymore. An overwhelming ringing filled my ears as the muffled voice of the umpire called for the break. Little squares floated in my vision as I started to accept the fact that I was going to pass out. But no matter how much my body wanted to shut down, I refused to let it happen, because there was nothing I wanted less than to be that person.
So, with shaky legs and distorted vision, I walked into the dugout and sat down on the bench. They put another girl in my position and I poured my entire jug of water over my head. I knew that if I were to drink anything I would automatically throw it up, so I had to wait for the nausea to subside. I finally realized I was killing myself.
So here I am today, at 124 pounds, noticing that my favorite pair of pants are a little tight on me; but I don’t skip meals anymore, or make myself throw them up. Because even though I don’t engage in those behaviors anymore, there’s a little part of my brain that’s telling me that I’m not hungry, a little part of my brain that encourages me to stick my fingers down my throat.
On the first day of fall break I was standing in my bathroom, getting ready for work. As I was putting on my uniform I took a good look at myself and started to cry. After so long of doing well and being happy with myself, I was relapsing. With my parents out of town I knew I would be able to skip all the meals I wanted without consequence. So I did. And in a week and a half I lost 8 pounds.
I’m not better. I’m not okay. It’s like I constantly live with someone following me, waiting for me to be vulnerable and then take advantage of me. It knows when I’m weak, it knows when I’m least expecting it. Without warning I’ll once again be completely enveloped by it. Not a day goes by where I don’t partially shame myself for eating, and I really wish that wasn’t the case. For the most part I can busy myself with work or other activities to distract myself from the shame I feel, but I can never fully escape it.
Every single time I look down at my hands I’m reminded of how much I’m changing. My bones are becoming more apparent and I constantly feel the need to cup my hands together so I can feel just how thin they are and exactly what I’m doing to myself.
My eating disorder hasn’t left me and I don’t think it ever will.