The idea of being “healthy” had completely taken over my mind. Calorie counting and finding the healthy option to everything had become my obsession. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store without picking up nearly every item on the shelves and studying the nutrition facts. Exercising had become more than being fit and strong for my sport but instead a way to shed extra calories and to achieve what I thought was the perfect body.
When college finally rolled around all of this disordered behavior quickly escalated. I had become so fearful of the freshman fifteen that I went into overdrive to avoid it . When my friends and I would go to late night dining, they would all get a pint of ice cream (the typical freshman thing to do), and I’d be sitting there with an apple. I wanted nothing more than to grab a spoon and join them, but my eating disorder, Ed told me that even just a bite would pull me in, and then I’d fall into a binge that I would later regret.
Eventually I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I knew my thinking and behavior around food wasn’t normal, so I sought help. This was a huge step in the beginning of my breakup with Ed. It was scary, and at first I was reluctant. Ed had been one of my dearest friends for so long. He was there for me when no one else was, and he provided protection during my darkest days.
I had finally made my way to the school counseling center, and it was there that my emotions around the disorder had come out. I had never been able to speak about how I truly felt about Ed, because I knew I would sound crazy. It was then that I told my parents that I thought it best that I seek more care. Ed was screaming at me at this point, but I knew that I would never enjoy college, or life for that matter, while in this toxic relationship. My mom went crazy looking for a psychologist who specialized in eating disorders, and eventually we found one nearby to TCNJ. I met with my therapist every Thursday, and it was something I looked forward to every week, because for one hour out of seven days, I was able to talk without seeming like a lunatic.
My therapist had grown worried at my continued weight loss and expressed concern for a possible heart problem. She had wanted to call my college swim coach and tell her about my decreasing health, but Ed refused to let that happen. This continued for a couple weeks until I went home for fall break in early October. My therapist told my mother to schedule some blood work, an EKG, and an appointment with my pediatrician. Never did I think that I’d leave school that weekend without coming back.
That Saturday, I went to the hospital to get my EKG done, and later that night, I had a family wedding. It was in New York City, and I knew the food would be great, so I starved myself that whole day, so that I would allow myself to enjoy the dinner later at the party. I had been looking forward to this event for so long, but when it finally rolled around Ed denied me all pleasure. I had to wear my boyfriend’s suit jacket the whole time, because I was beyond freezing, and I barely danced, because I had no energy due to my restricted diet. When the cake came around, Ed told me I didn’t need that, so instead, I passed it up and watched those around me devour it. Looking back this was probably the saddest and lowest moment of my life. It was then that I realized I wasn’t living for Kerry anymore, I was living for Ed.
The next visit on my doctor’s list was to a nutritionist. While there I got my BMI correctly calculated as well as my body fat percentages. I won’t say any numbers, but to say the least they were not to a healthy standard, and Ed was very proud of this. He told me that those health threatening numbers didn’t mean anything and that all that mattered was how I looked in the mirror (in his opinion of course, not anyone else’s).
The weekend of doctors was concluded by a visit to my pediatrician. We did our usual checkup and then the typical eating disorder related questions began, “How many calories do you think you consume daily?”, “Are you compulsive about exercising?”, “Do you feel stressed out after eating?” Ed answered these questions with pride, but Kerry was in there somewhere, and she knew the words coming out of her mouth weren’t normal, but she refused to admit it. As my doctor looked at me with worry in her eyes, she told me that the results of my EKG were quite alarming and that I should be admitted to the hospital due to a resting heart rate of 31. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to sustain this lifestyle much longer, if I kept up with all the swimming and food restriction that I was doing. She then excused herself to make a phone call to another doctor. I sat nervously wondering who was on the other line. She came back in to tell my mom and I that she made an appointment for me at a nearby hospital with a doctor who specialized in eating disorders, and that I should expect to stay a few days. I was in denial. I planned on coming home that night for dinner, and all I packed was a pair of socks and my laptop. I didn’t plan on being admitted to the hospital for 6 nights. But I was.
Read More By Kerry:
Read More On This Topic
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