Gab s Story
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when I was only 13. I honestly didn’t even know what it meant to be anorexic. I never meant for it to happen. It started in the beginning of high school. I was overweight and unhappy and knew I needed to make a change. I lost the weight, but I also lost myself for a long time.
I couldn’t see what people saw when they looked at me. I honestly still can’t see it sometimes. My mom and dad did everything they could to try and help me, but why? I didn’t need the help. I wasn’t even sick, I felt strong. Looking back, I was in denial over the past few years. I saw over ten therapists, and went through two rounds of inpatient and outpatient treatment. At some points I didn’t think anyone could help me, not even myself.
I think I hit rock bottom my first time lying in the hospital bed. I wasn’t allowed to go on a walk around the floor. Someone had to sit outside the bathroom door when I showered to make sure I didn’t try to exercise; because patients had done it before. I couldn’t use my cell phone for an hour after I ate. I had wires hooked up to me monitoring my heart rate because it had dropped significantly low. My body was fighting to survive and I was rooting for the other side: Ana*.
All I did was lay there for a week, being forced to eat an excessive amount of calories each day. My worst nightmare was coming true. For the first time since my diagnoses I wasn’t in control of my life. They told me the only way I would get better was to eat and gain back the weight I had lost. That was a lie. I wasn’t better after I was discharged, but worse. I may have physically looked better, but mentally I was slipping away. I couldn’t look in the mirror, I felt ashamed of who I was. I became isolated, afraid of what people thought of me, afraid I would never be the Gabby I once knew before.
Six years later I am at a place I never thought I would be at. I still have bad days, sometimes more bad than good, but I am here and I am still fighting. I’m sharing my story because I hope no one has to go through what I did, even though I know thousands suffer each and every single day. I think there is a huge flaw in society when it comes to understanding mental illnesses. They use the word “anorexic” to define someone who is extremely skinny. That’s not what anorexia is.
It's more than that. It's about the control, the possessiveness; your mind never sleeping and always running. Never being good enough, small enough, smart enough, pretty enough. Counting, calculating, measuring. Reaching a goal and setting another one, and another one after that. Feeling weak, yet powerful all in one. Anorexia isn’t a title or label, anorexia is a disease, a sickness, a disorder. Anorexia changed my life."
(*Ana is a nickname commonly used for anorexia nervosa. Likewise, Mia is used commonly for bulimia nervosa.)