DEMON- My Own True Experience with Anorexia
By Women Enough on January 09, 2012
DEMON, My Own True Experience with Anorexia.
By Erin R. Kiniry
“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” A quote from my favorite story of all time, Peter Pan, written magically and thoughtfully by J.M. Berry.
Having suffered from the debilitating illness of anorexia, that quote, which once only reminded me of pixie dust and the promise of pirates and mermaids, now is a reminder that life is precious. When I was sick, yes, I was alive by some miracle, but it was an absolute mockery of life. I was more or less a zombie, and my body had only enough energy to keep my fragile and shriveled heart beating, while everything else: my emotions, my light, my happiness, my joy, my wit, my love, my adventures…were lost in some dark vortex within my soul. That is not life, which all of us are lucky to have in the first place.
Ten years ago I was a happy, healthy, glowing 15-year-old teenager. By this tender age, I had already endured my first heartbreak, had a few sports awards under my belt, and had finally become aware of what a wonderful, loving, and supportive family I have, which consist of two parents, and five electrifying sisters. Like most teenagers, the world was seemingly my playground, and the promise of an adventurous future left me beaming from ear to ear. So how does that girl become anorexic? A blunt question, but it is perhaps the most important one. First of all, I am not a psychologist. I can, like always, only speak for myself. This is my story. This is a true story of how my demon slowly and manipulatively manifested darkness so deeply within myself that I saw no light in any direction.
Anorexia, in my experience, is exceptionally manipulative. I did not wake up one day and decide to stop eating. For me, it was such a slow and gradual process, that my family and I didn’t see it coming. It started like this: I decided to start running a measly half mile after school every day. After a few weeks of that, I decided to take my fitness up a notch by also incorporating more lean meats, fruits, and vegetables into my diet. A few weeks after that, I decided I didn’t need any vegetables, and in just another few weeks, I also cut out fruit. The domino effect continued, and eventually, months after deciding to be more health conscious, all I was eating was a single piece of chicken once a day. I stopped running. I had no energy to spare.
After about 20 pounds of weight loss I was 130 pounds. Now, this is tricky because 130 pounds on a 5’6’’ frame doesn’t look unhealthy, but little does anyone know I am accidently starving myself. At this point, it was all out of my control. Although I wantedto eat just like everyone else, I was obsessed with calories, fearing weight gain more than death, especially after being told how great I looked. My weight kept spiraling downward until I was less than 80 pounds, and on my 16th birthday, my parents gave me the ultimatum I needed to CRUSH my demon into oblivion. It was eat a peanut butter sandwich now, and continue to eat everyday after that to gain weight OR, be admitted into a treatment center at Stanford. Although I go into much more detail in my short novella, let me tell you now that I begged and begged my parents to let me try recovery on my own, with the help of my family.
They relented, and it was not an easy path to travel. It is also not recommended by professionals, which I agree with 100%. You see, my family was perfect in terms of encouragement and emotional support, but physically my “home recovery” was nothing less than brutal. I suffered debilitating pains in my shrunken stomach, my chest, and everywhere in-between. I was eating all the wrong foods for someone not used to eating more than 300 calories a day, and at one point, I thought I was suffering a heart attack, which wouldn’t have been out of the question.
After months on my home recovery plan, I had gained back all my weight, plus some, which proved to be another emotional and physical obstacle for me. I needed more help. I needed to gain my muscle back. I needed something to stimulate my mind and spirit again. It was at this point, through the avenue of sports, my desire to be normal again, and the good nature of the girl’s basketball coach, that I finally began seeing the Erin that was lost so many months prior. While the basketball team welcomed me back with open arms, I welcomed myself back with an open heart. From basketball onward, my health and happiness blossomed, and by the end of my senior year in high school, I felt very disconnected to the anorexic girl I once was, as if it was only a nightmare.
I was lucky enough to have gotten my life back, and am currently living the joyful and plentiful life that I had foreseen for myself to have. However, most who suffer are not that lucky. Although I understand the mind of an anorexic person, I have to say I feel helpless for those still sick. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, please seek help immediately. You have a life to live. Don’t waste another second. Recovery is possible, but you need to get on it.
Before I go, I want to quickly go over a few major misconceptions about anorexia, (at least in my experience), because my main goal is for someone to really be able to help. One, I literally DID NOT see a skinny person in the mirror. So, telling someone “look how skinny you are” isn’t going to do much but annoy him or her. Two, I wanted to eat. My mouth would salivate at the thought or smell of food. However, it felt out of my control. I felt, for lack of a better description, possessed by a demon that wouldn’t allow me to touch food. This is why emotional support is crucial, and I was lucky enough to have it 24-7. Lastly, again, my intentions were never to be unhealthy or to resemble the cackling crypt-keeper. In the beginning, I just wanted to loose a modest 5 pounds, and by the power of chance, that 5-pound goal left me as an 80-pound disaster. The demon of anorexia is an equal-opportunity destroyer, not just for troubled teenage girls, despite popular belief.
For more about my story, you can obtain my novella, titled DEMON, on lulu.com. It is available in both paperback or download.
Live long and well.
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