Cassie s Story
Galloway, NJ USA
"When I was younger, my mother always taught me that my body is sacred and beautiful no matter what anyone says or thinks. Looking back I try and remember where I lost that small piece of wisdom.
In this society, its easy to say that everyone is beautiful no matter what, but then you hear people talk about it in gossip. It's easy to look at someone and think 'wow they really let themselves go' or 'they’re so fat.' It's so easy for people to say those things and those thoughts haunted me at night.
I was never 'fat'. I was never unhealthy. I was athletic and did sports my entire childhood, so I never had to worry about being called fat. All I did was listen to all the girls around me make fun of people and call them the most disgusting names, and that all built up in my head.
Going into high school, I found my passion in music. It relieved my stress and it was something I could put my heart into. With that, there were no more sports, no more runs after school, no more diets, nothing. My body adjusted to this change and I gained a few pounds, nothing crazy.
The day my mom came home with a scale was the day everything changed. I never weighed myself because I never had to care how much I weighed. I didn’t know the concept of weight and height or BMI. All I knew was that all the 'skinny girls' were 120 and that's probably what I was.
I finally decided one day to randomly weigh myself and I remember my entire heart dropping into my stomach- my whole world collapsing around me. It was the most unusual, dark feeling I’ve ever felt. It’s like all of that built up stigma from all those years of media portraying beautiful women and my friends making fun of people that I built this huge wall around me. That was the beginning of the end.
Initially I didn’t fall into an eating disorder. I ran a lot. I ran until I couldn’t breathe anymore. I came home and fell to the floor because my legs were so numb. I stepped on that scale three times a day and lost about 5 pounds in a few weeks. This was not enough for me. I needed to lose it faster.
I felt so lost and confused that I had no where to turn.
My next choice was something that almost killed me. One normal night, I was eating dinner with my family. Chicken, green beans, and rice. I remember looking at it for a half hour debating if I was going to stoop low enough to do what I was about to do. I ate everything and sat in the darkness of my bedroom for an hour. Do I do it? Is it worth it? Will my mom or sister find out? Yes, it is worth it, I thought. Yes I will lose the weight faster. It won’t happen again and I’ll stop whenever the weight comes off and it won’t be a problem, I told myself.
I went to the bathroom, grabbed my toothbrush, knelt in front of the toilet and lost my entire self worth and dignity to bulimia right then and there. It was over. It started with only doing it once a week. The weight came off faster than I could have ever imagined. It was really difficult to get used to but it was worth it... right? Then it became 3 times a week, then every day after dinner, and then after every single meal.
This happened for almost two years of my life. I lost about 35 pounds. I was finally skinny like my friends, I felt beautiful in every way. I looked in the mirror and saw my ribs, saw the bones in my thighs, my hip and collarbones stuck out. That’s what society wanted me to be, right? That’s what I needed to be. Little did I know, my body was falling apart and people noticed.
My mom sat me down a lot and asked me if I was doing drugs or if I had depression. I looked at her, laughed, and lied right to her face. ;I’m fine, I’ve been working out every night.' I told that to everyone. Everyone told me how skinny I looked, but they didn’t say it as compliments. They said it with concern in their voices, but I registered that as compliments. It made me feel good. It made me feel confident.
Even though I was emotionally happy, my insides were dying. The day it all came crashing down was such a haze. I woke up on the bathroom floor shaking uncontrollably. I lost control of my body. I couldn’t breathe, I was in extreme pain, and I was tired. I fell asleep and woke up in a hospital. I had no idea the damage that was done to my body… severe liver damage.
I lost most of my hair, my teeth were decaying from stomach acid, my heart was weak because I had no nutrition or electrolytes. My life was hanging by a small thread and I had no idea until I saw the look on everyone's face. They looked at me like they were preparing to bury me and that is saddest look anyone could ever give you.
Somehow the only thing I cared about was ripping the feeding tube out so I didn’t gain weight. I was considered suicidal, bulimic, depressed, and I weighed 128 pounds at 5’8. My life had hit rock bottom and I didn’t even know it.
After this, I lost my choice to eat what and when I wanted, I lost the choice to talk to who I wanted to, I lost the choice to decide when I wanted to go bed or when I wanted to go back to school. I pushed my body to the point where I lost control of my life.
If I can say anything to anyone, it would be to not wait until you don’t have the choice because you are put through heavy treatment and medication. I had to be isolated because I was suicidal and I needed mandatory therapy.
Luckily for me, I was given the most incredible woman who would save my life. She was compassionate, understanding, and filled with wisdom. I’ll never forget her words to me 'No one is perfect, so why do you have to be?' It took me years of therapy to pinpoint my pain and to find a solution. Finding a solution under these circumstances takes a lifetime of self love and respect for your body.
I owe my life to NEDA and ANAD for their hotlines and events that helped me grow as a person. Whenever I felt low, I was able to pick up the phone and call these hotlines. They listened, they didn’t judge me, they didn’t call the police, they just listened and then proceeded to tell me that I’m worth the world and I am beautiful.
I’ve been able to talk to people who have gone through what I went through and gave them the motivation to get help and seek treatment. I’ve been able to speak in front of hundreds of people to share my story, I’ve been able to attend walks for awareness and events coordinated to celebrate the lives of people who lost their battles and to help others from getting to that point, but most importantly I’ve been able to stand in a mirror and smile because I love who I am inside and out."