I wanted to go to a private school for high school, so I did. It was a place where I knew nobody, and nobody knew me. It was a very academically challenging school. I studied six hours a night to make top grades. I felt a lot of pressure to make a lot of friends, because people had been attending this school since kindergarten and I was the new girl. Around this time, other things were changing as well. My parents were trying to sell our house. They worked a lot of hours probably to pay my school tuition. High school was a whole new world. Suddenly, I was expected to be an adult. My whole life was consumed by school work and trying to impress people. All I did was work. I had no time for anything else. My childhood seemed to be gone. It was at best a distant memory that was quickly fading. In the midst of all this change, I developed an eating disorder which I still have five and a half years later.
Eating disorders start slowly. It's not something that develops overnight although sometimes I feel as if mine did. It took me a long time to realize I even had one, and it took my parents even longer. I realized I might have an eating disorder about a year later during sophomore year of high school when my chemistry teacher started talking about them one day. I denied it for a long time though because I thought I couldn't possibly have one. I slowly began to realize I was in major trouble a few months into that year when I pretty much stopped eating. I started drinking a lot of caffeine instead. I'm not really sure what happened. I just stopped wanting to eat. A lot of things were going on then too. I changed schools again and moved to a new town. I had a lot of trouble making friends, and I felt really alone. The more alone I felt the worse my eating disorder became. It really never occurred to me to tell anybody about it. I think that was because I didn't understand what was happening to me and explaining something that I didn't understand myself would have been difficult. I was hoping someone would notice what was going on, but no one did.
During my senior year I got so sick that I finally just told my mom. She believed me, but told me that eating disorders were selfish and to just get over it. I think she knew for a long time before that, but she was in denial just as I had been. Eating disorders are not selfish. People that have them don't want to have them. Eating disorders are not out of control diets either. They come from something other then a desire to be thin. I have an eating disorder for many reasons. My parents are controlling and expect a lot. I have Cerebral Palsy, and my dad is always telling me that I don't have to be that way and that I should just fix the problem. He makes it known that he is uncomfortable with my disability. He chooses not to accept the fact that I can't control my Cerebral Palsy. That makes me feel like I'm not accepted by either of my parents. I feel like I owe something to my father to make up for not being perfect and for not being the child that he wanted. I try to be the perfect daughter and excel at everything, so that they will be proud. I feel like I have to earn my parent's love and that just being their child isn't enough. I had trouble fitting in all through school, because I never fit the mold of the popular kid. I'm also extremely driven and a perfectionist. I know that these things definitely caused my eating disorder. I felt really out of control at the time and sometimes still do. Food is one of the easiest things to control.
It's hard to explain what it is like to have a life threatening illness that nobody bothers to help you recover from. I still wonder why my parents have never helped me battle my eating disorder. It is probably because of a lot of things. They didn't know what was going on for a long time. I don't think that my mom knows anything about eating disorders. She might honestly think that they are just about being thin, and eventually people get over them. I struggled so much trying to find a way to forgive my parents for not helping me. They watched me struggle and never tried to help. It wasn't until recently that I found the strength to forgive them. I was watching Oprah a few weeks ago, and she was talking about what forgiveness means to her. She said, "forgiveness is acceptance of the fact that the past cannot be any different. It's learning to live with the past and having the courage to move on." I was finally able to forgive my parents shortly after watching that show. Before that, I wasn't even sure how to forgive them.
Being able to forgive my parents has helped me so much. I knew that holding on to the past was not helping me to recover. This past summer, right before I went to California to be a camp counselor, I finally realized something. I realized that having an active eating disorder wasn't helping me. I've known for a long time that eating disorders are not about food. I knew that if I was ever was going to have a real chance at beating my eating disorder, I had to stop focusing on food. Shortly after that, I took a leap of faith. I started eating and started keeping it down. Up until that point in my life, my eating disorder had so much power over me. Eating disorders are very difficult to understand. I always thought that if I was thin enough that I would be happy with my reflection in the mirror. Eating disorders are perceptual disorders. No matter how much weight someone with an eating disorder loses they see an overweight person. I may never like what I see when I look at myself in the mirror. I may always see extra pounds that aren't there, but I can live with that. I realize now that not eating and losing weight didn't change how I see myself, and I'd rather be well then sick.
I have great faith that I will one day totally recover from my eating disorder. I've learned so much from this experience. I've had to face a challenge that I wouldn't wish on anybody. I've learned that life is really worth living. I've seen the strength that I have that God has given me. I've learned that all things are possible. Life is really hard, but through it all God has always been with me. Through this experience I found him.
This experience has made me really think about why I am here and what my purpose is. It has also made me question the meaning of life and what its purpose is. I've always wondered what life is exactly, and I think my friend's away message says it best.
What is Life?
It's a gift...accept it.
It's a challenge...meet it.
It's an adventure...dare it.
It's a sorrow...overcome it.
It's a tragedy...face it.
It's a journey...complete it.
It's a promise...fulfill it.
It's a beauty...praise it.
It's a struggle...fight it.
It's a goal...achieve it.
Life is a lot of things. It's incredibly hard but also really beautiful and ultimately worth fighting for. In life, we have to take what we have been given and use it to the best of our abilities. We have to take our challenges and embrace them but also fight them. There is a purpose for every struggle that we go through. Now I try to learn something from the challenges that I face everyday. When life seems too hard, I still go outside at night and look up at the sky. I know that the stars are light from heaven shining on the earth. They remind me that even in my darkest times there is light and therefore hope for the future. I know now that I can overcome anything because God loves me, and He is always watching over me from heaven a place somewhere just beyond the sky.