Everybody has titles. For some it may be a daughter, an athlete, a student, or a combination of the trio. For as long as I can remember, I wore the crown for all three of those titles, and boy did I wear it with pride. All through high school, I was a varsity swimmer, and by senior year I helped carry my team to the state championships. I had gotten accepted to my top school (yes, TCNJ) and was recruited to also swim there. But the title that I hold most dearly is being a daughter. I have a great family. They have supported me through everything and have always been standing next to me as I faced my greatest victories and defeats.
I wore this crown for quite some time until not someone but something swiped it away from me. I had developed anorexia, and it was out for blood. It wanted my life, to ruin friendships, to crumble my swimming career, to take away the future I had lined up for myself; and by the start of my freshman year at college it seemed to be winning this battle. My eating disorder, or as I like to refer to it as Ed had taken over mythoughts. Ed told me that being thin should be my top priority and therefore he had drained me of my happiness and instead replaced it with anxiety.
The first thing that started to deteriorate with the presence of Ed was my social life. Going out and enjoying time with friends and family is a way of life, especially for a college student, and with these get togethers, food is typically involved. For most of high school, my swim team was my main social group, and as the stereotype goes, swimmers eat a lot. Every Sunday after practice my team and I would go to our neighborhood bagel shop and all order taylor ham, egg, and cheeses (yes that’s what they’re called, I’m from central Jersey). But soon Ed started telling me that this wasn’t the “healthy option”, and soon enough I was eating sunday breakfast by myself at home. Ed was a tricky little fella, and for the beginning of the disorder I didn’t fully pick up on him, I just thought of all of this as taking the ‘healthy route’. This then snowballed into looking up calories at every option on the menu when going out to eat, and eventually dining out became an anxiety filled event. When college finally rolled around, I limited myself from many social situations due to the fear of having to eat and make choices. Even the dining hall became a struggle, and most days I would run out of there crying because of how “unhealthy” it all was. College was supposed to be about going out and trying new things, and most importantly being carefree, but with the anxiety that Ed caused I secluded myself.
When the mentality of the disorder started to kick in, the physical aspect soon followed. Every food group is essential to living a healthy lifestyle, and when you eliminate or even cut back on certain ones, the end result is never good. When my swimming career started to decline, and I was not getting best times anymore, I turned a blind eye to what was really going on. Just a side note to everyone reading this, especially athletes, CARBS ARE ESSENTIAL. They are our main source of energy, and I sadly neglected them. Ed told me I didn’t need to eat before a three hour practice, and with the restriction of my diet and lack of energy, I became very withdrawn and wasn’t able to keep up. I’ll save the biology lesson for your 8 A.M. lecture, but essentially, like many other anorexic patients, our bodies go into survival mode. What this may include is the inability to keep yourself warm, hair loss, brittle nails, and unfortunately many more harmful side effects. But what caused the most medical issues later on in the disorder was the condition of my heart. Having an eating disorder and continuing to swim for three hours a day was not a healthy duo. On top of my practices I was also working out on my own. It had become an obsession, and Ed of course controlled this behavior. I knew what I was doing was definitely not normal, but Ed controlled my mind and told me what I thought didn’t matter, and I continued to follow his rules for far too long.
When I arrived at TCNJ in August, Ed and I had been in a love-hate relationship for quite some time now. He had prevented me from living the college experience I had always dreamed of, and within a couple weeks into the semester, he had eventually took his toll on me and I soon found myself in a hospital bed.
My dear friends and family, among strangers may read my series of articles, and with this I hope they can understand how this disorder operates. But what I would like everyone reading this to understand is that I am not ashamed of what has happened to me. In my next article I will explain how I came to acceptance with my eating disorder and how I am finally learning to live a healthy and happy life I that love.
If you or someone you know is suffering with an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association (nationaleatingdisorders.org) supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Call their toll free, confidential Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. In addition, Project HEAL funds inpatient, residential, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment for applicants suffering from an eating disorder who want to recover but cannot afford treatment. Go to http://theprojectheal.org/apply-for-grants/our-scholarship-progra/ for information about how to apply for a treatment grant OR VISIT WWW.THEPROJECTHEAL.ORG
Read more articles by Kerry:
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Hi! My name’s Kerry and I’m currently a freshman at The College of New Jersey with an open options business major. Born and raised in Bridgewater, NJ, I am proud to be in the minority that says taylor ham instead of pork roll. If you can’t find me practicing at the pool you can probably catch me watching Grey’s Anatomy. Aspiring to one day be the person my dog sees me as.