William's Story - Anorexia
This is William's story in his own words. William is 17.
I was a happy little kid. I had a few friends, but I was a bit of a loner, being an only child and all, and not playing any sports. I just didnít know, very well, how to hang out. I just didn't know how to make friends. I felt like the odd one. I was the one who would see huddled groups of his classmates, laughing and looking back at me. That made me angry. It hurt something inside of me. So one day, I snuck close to the circle of classmates and I heard a word drifting out amongst a sea of snickers. The word was "fat." I didnít really understand what that meant, but I was so angry. Later, I remembered sitting in the doctors office, looking at a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart, and feeling my stomach twist as I saw how close to the overweight line I was.
I grew up, I grew older, and soon I had more friends. There were other, weirder people to laugh at, but they were thin, that was something I couldnít understand. I was the same awkward kid, but people were nicer and more open minded. Those people seemed to be only guys though, girls wouldnít look at me. Maybe that had something do do with the fact that when people huddled in groups, looking at me and laughing, I got angry.
Finally, I graduated from my little elementary school. Freshman year at my little high school in Maine was fine enough. I had a few great friends and I made more. That summer, though, something went terribly wrong. It was after a crush gone bad. I was feeling sad, when I had a revelation. What if I could change? What if I could fix what was wrong with me? What if I could no longer be that outcast? What if I could become popular?
It was amazing, that little idea transformed me. It sent goose bumps down my spine and left me clutching my heart, burgeoning with hope. I thought back all those years, back to the little laughing group. I listened carefully and I heard again the word that defined what was wrong with me. ďfat.Ē
There was a way to fix this, I knew. I wanted to be thin. The idea possessed me. At first I just wanted to not be the chubby kid at my high school any more. I forgot about the BMI chart, and how I fell neatly into the ďhealthyĒ zone. That didnít matter. I wanted to be thin. I began to diet and it felt great. Little breakfasts, little lunches, a decent dinner, and jogs behind my house made up my calorie equation. I got rid of snacks and drinks, like all the diet sites recommend. Before I knew it, I had lost weight. I was 20 pounds lighter, and it was... heavenly. I had surpassed my goal but it wasnít enough. I needed more so I decided to go all out and get abs, the holy grail. Abs were what I needed. They would fix me and make everyone realize how cool I was.
To get abs you have to get your body fat to about 10%, at least that's what it says online. I worked hard, ran a bit, and ate less. Before I knew it I could see abs when I flexed my stomach. But that wasnít enough. Flexing was cheating. All the stars on TV donít need to flex. So I ate less. I cut out carbs. I lived only on protein. My body shrank. My mind slowed. My chest ached. I was sooo tired.
I couldnít stop though. I had come so far and my goal was close, I could feel it, or did I just feel the fatigue of my body consuming itself? I looked online, read bodybuilder sites, and found what I was doing was okay. It was called ďcutting.Ē I just needed to start building muscle once I got rid of my fat. I couldnít start gaining muscle yet though, there was still fat clinging to my abdomen, or maybe it was just loose skin. Either way I had to lose a little more before I started bulking up, just a little more. I would lose ten pounds then Iíd start gaining muscle.
I lost the ten pounds. I spent those weeks huddled in my house, dragging myself up and down the stairs and thinking ravenously of celery. Celery had 5 calories a stalk so I had to be sparing with it, but it did make a nice treat on occasion. I never left the house. I went there right after school. I had long since forgotten about my friends. I had a new friend now and it was weight loss. My friends were annoying anyway. They didnít understand how important it was to lose weight. They made me feel bad about my body. I could feel there eyes judging when I didnít eat at lunch. They were so inconsiderate.
Finally, I had reached my goal weight. Any abdominal muscle that had been on my stomach had withered away. I thought about trying to bulk up but no. My body was really too good at gaining fat when I wanted muscle. I couldnít take the risk I would gain any more fat.
When my mom told me to gain some weight I said I would, but I wouldnít. She had grown frantic, and I had started to hate her. She was worse than my friends. She got me tested and I had 3% body fat. Three percent and I didnít have an ab in sight. I was happy though. Three percent! What an accomplishment. I laughed and congratulated myself. My mom didnít laugh. She woke me up one morning and said I was gaining weight, and there was no question about it. She gave me deep fried eggs and cheese. I almost threw up.
For the next few months I ate heaping plates, 6 meals a day. My mom said she knew what she was doing. She said she was following a method, the Maudsley Method. I didn't believe her. She was destroying me. My body was beginning to break down from the sudden change. I itched or grew unbearably hot. I shook and sweated. That was not the worst of it though. My mind rebelled. All my work was being ruined. For a year I had poured my life into creating this thin body and with every forced bite I could feel my stomach growing with the tingling numbness of fat. It was like somebody was pouring warm lard down my throat. I couldnít take it and I fought back. I broke the car. I smashed the wall. I shattered my fist. I screamed at the ceiling, at my mom. I hated her. I was so full of rage and anguish I almost didnít notice as my body began to crave the badly needed nutrients.
I almost missed the signs as my muscles started to grow. I almost didnít notice that I finally had abs. I was doing what I had always dreamed of, bulking up. My mind changed as well. A fog lifted form my brain and I started to get Aís without the stress and commitment they had took just a month ago. I was back. I had risen from the clutches of a monster. I had fought my way out of the mind-bending addiction.
Iím still scared of anorexia. That obsession haunts me. My body is still recovering. My mind and my growth slowed so much. It is taking time to get my health back, but it is coming. I know now how to eat and to live. I have learned to never starve myself. I know what happens if I lose weight. I have grown healthy and strong, from eating healthy foods, never from restriction. I value my body, my mind, and my life too much to destroy them again. Iím applying to colleges soon. My dream is Stanford University.
Anorexia has been a curse, but there is something strange about my disease. It comes from an obsessive desire to make myself better, to grow and evolve into something greater than I was before. That drive couldíve killed me, but now it helps me study. It pushed me to destroy my body, but now it encourages me to workout and stay fit. It forced me to obsess about my weight, now though, it is the the thing that lets me finish every project I start. Anorexia is a dangerous demon, but it is also a sign of an ambitious, focused mind. Now that I know to give myself a healthy purpose, I find vast reserves of strength within.
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