**warning to those who have struggled with eating disorders, this post has the potential to be triggering**
after much contemplation, i decided I'm ready to introduce you all to the truth, or i could reword it by saying I'm, ready to introduce you to my "friend" ED. "ED" (e.d.) is an acronym for eating disorder.
on this blog, i've very vaguely, and slyly mentioned being "sick" and having "health complications" i've shared having to miss out on dance, and if you've read my blog for awhile now, maybe you remember when i disappeared and stopped posting for awhile, i later went on to explain that i'd been experiencing my "own personal hell". here i am FINALLY being open, honest, and vulnerable, about what has REALLY been going on.
early summer of 2014, after much denying and begging my parents to believe me that i was fine, they finally took me to a doctor, and i was finally diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. the illness had been with me for some time before i was diagnosed. i was in-denial to it at first, and it took months for me to believe i really had an eating disorder, or any problem at all. even when i was first hospitalized, i sometimes doubted i needed to be there, and i'd tell everyone "i've only had an eating disorder since april" but looking back now, i see all the red flags, and all the "eating disorder behaviors" that started much before april.
if i wanted to share my whole story, it'd take you guys hours to read, and even longer for me to write, so in a kind of condensed version (along with my attempts to educate you a bit on what eating disorders are really like) here's what went down:
about a month after my diagnoses i was admitted into a inpatient unit (aka 24 hour care, treatment, rehab - it's all the same) at a hospital that specializes in eating disorders. in this hospital i attempted to heal and recover, but after a short 6 weeks, my parents pulled me out of 24 hour care so i could get back to dance. 6 weeks doesn't seem too short, but for someone struggling to get over one of the strongest, most painful addictions, 6 weeks is short. too short.
my treatment team warned both me and my parents, they let us know I wasn't ready to leave, it was much too soon and i wasn't even close to being stable enough to make it on my own. my parents had complete faith that i could do it, i knew deep down i wasn't ready to leave, and i had a feeling that i would eventually relapse, but i certainly thought it'd make it much longer then i did.
right away, i began down that slippery slop and started my downward spiral into relapse. by january 2015, i was sicker then i had been the first time around, and at this point had dropped below 80 pounds. awesome and skinny, right? you'd think I must have LOVED my body. i was doing things no one else could do. i was so accomplished! i had so much self control. it felt SO good.... right?! NOPE. absolutely not!! i still looked in the mirror and continued to wish pounds off of myself. i wasn't satisfied, i hated my appearance, i was miserable, and i still felt like a failure.
so once again, and this time sicker then before, i was hospitalized again. this time I was hospitalized and in 24 hour care for 3 months, 12 whole weeks. in the middle of April, i stepped down to PHP (partial hospitalization program) it's now june, and i'm still in the part hospitalization program. i'm still in treatment each week day from 8-6. i finally get to sleep at home each night, and i finally get to spend Saturday and Sunday at home doing whatever i want. even though i've "stepped down" from full hospitalization, and even though i spent this whole year in rehab, guess what? i still struggle.
you'd think after 145 days (and counting) of treatment, and countless hours of therapy, i'd be "healed." unfortunately, that's not the case. you don't come home from rehab fixed. sure, i'm a lot physically healthier, after what felt like a never ending weight restoration, i've reached my goal. a long with a healthy weight there's finally color in my face, but anorexia (and any eating disorder for that matter) is so much more then a physical appearance. It's mental. i have a mental illness. THAT is hard to bluntly state. not only was i diagnosed with anorexia, but also major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder. the depression and anxiety are even more shameful to own. it's rare that someone "catches" an eating disorder without developing depression and anxiety as well.
so why on earth am i sharing this?! why am i choosing to put the most guarded part of me out there in the open where anyone and everyone can see it? because i want things to change! and i can't sit around waiting, wishing, and hoping, for things to change without doing anything about it myself. so i'm pulling down my walls and throwing my imperfect self out at you guys, in hopes, for things to change.
by "hope for things to change" I don't mean hope for ME to change, and hopes to magically be "healed," trust me, if all it took to recover was to write a vulnerable blog post sharing your story, i would've done it a LONG time ago, because the eating disorder is a bastard and recovering is a pain in the ass. i've NEVER experienced something so real and so painful, and it's something you will never truly understand unless you've gone through it yourself.
i've contemplated whether i should share "my story" so openly and publically or not. i've written this post in my head over and over again but i always end up chickening out. but after being exposed to the world and all the ignorance about this topic, much much frustration came. with the help of my therapist, i realized that maybe by sharing my story, i can make a difference. i'm only one girl, and this is only one blog with a low number of followers, but it's my attempt to make a change in society and the lack of education around eating disorders.
so where to begin?! well, one thing I'm sick of, is everyone glorifying eating disorders. earlier in this post (referring to me and my e.d.) i used to term "catch". many people wouldn't think I "caught" anything, and that instead decided i wanted to have an eating disorder. people think anorecic's wake up one day and just CHOSE not to eat. but eating disoders aren't things people just choose. if i hear one more person state they "wish they had an eating disorder" because they "want to be thin" i swear i'll throw a major bf.
earlier, i mentioned my weight, but that was basically pointless considering that weight is the obvious part of anorexia. however, there's so much more to it then weight.
when someone hears the word "anorexic" i'm sure they immediately think starving, and beautiful models or ballerinas made of skin and bones. hate to burst your bubble, but the body size and the weight is only a SMALL side effect, that's right, a side effect. eating disorders aren't body types, the body type is (one more time) a SIDE EFFECT of an eating disorder.
everyone can tell you about the weight loss, but no one mentions the physical, and emotional pain that comes along with it. i'm sick and tired of eating disorders being glorified, because guess what? despite popular belief, eating disorders SUCK!
no matter how much "weight" and "fat" and "mass" the eating disorder peels off of you, you won't be satisfied with your body. it'll NEVER be enough. you might have a "goal weight" in your head, but the second you get there you STILL won't be happy with your body and you'll STILL think you need to lose more weight. the last thing an eating disorder brings is satisfaction with your body. "he" tells you you'll be satisfied, but that's a lie (pay close attention the the fact i used the word "he".... we'll get back to that in a minute.) it only makes you more obsessed with your body, and it creates more dissatisfaction. the eating disorder will NEVER - and i repeat- NEVER be satisfied with itself until you are dead. it's harsh, but it's also true.
when the eating disorder enters your world, suddenly the ONLY thing that matters is the number on the scale, the number on the back of your pants, and whether you have a thigh gap or not. and let me testify that the most depressing life you can live is one the revolves around your appearance.
and lets be honest "living with an eating disorder" isn't actually living at all..... it's merely surviving.
who looks happiest? the little girl on her 14th birthday, holding a cupcake? or the senior in high school, who's nearly 18, and is holding gathered fabric behind her back so her dress will look like it 'fits'?
you're right, the 14 year old is a lot happier, AND she's about to eat a cupcake.
you can see it in my eyes here. i'm so completely empty.
and who do you think is the happiest here? the 15 year old in her new bright green pants, with her harry style's shirt and her top knot? or the senior with bony wrists and ankles, who can't fit into the pants she wore in jr high? it's for sure not the later considering she still felt like she 'needs' to lose more weight.
not only does your body wither away, so does your mind. i've caused myself brain damage. brians can heal, but some of that damage may never be erased. i've also caused vital organs of mine to slowly "shut down." That's shameful, because my older sister nicole was born with a heart defect, and here i was ruining, trashing, and damaging my heart. my perfectly good heart. and for what? for what i thought was happiness, beauty, and the 'perfect body' (which doesn't exsist by the way) and all that damage isn't ever erased for some people.
eno one mentions the fact that you have zero control over your actions and your life.
no one focuses on or understands the emotional pain that comes from an eating disorder. small example, ever since i was a little girl, i've loved dancing, and i've dreamed of making my high schools dance team. my sophomore year i made the high schools dance team, and it was amazing! but then this eating disorder came into my life, and i had to walk away from my dream come true. i had to sit in therapy while my team competed at nationals - in disney land, - and that was hard, that was REALLY heart breaking, but that isn't even the begining of it.
no one mentions the headaches that no amount of pain medication can relieve. no one mentions the dry and cracked skin. not only is it painful, it's also ugly. my hands have never been more unattractive then when they were purple and yellow.
no one mentions the fatigue, passing out, being light headed, feeling like you ran a marathon by simply turning the steering wheel on your car or walking up your stairs, but despite the painful fatigue, you feel the constant need to be "burning calories" and working out. the eating disorder sets up this idea that if you choose not to eat, and go running instead, you somehow have "control" but no, you have absolutely no control, and you're no longer making those decisions for yourself. it gets the the point where you're sitting and you're staring at a pancake that you WISH so badly you could eat, but there's that voice in your head telling you "no. nope. don't you dare. don't you even think about it." and your mom's next to you with her arms around you trying to convince you it'll be okay, and that the pancake won't hurt you. but you're sobbing, because that damn eating disorder is screaming "she's lying! that pancake will ruin your week" and who do i chose to believe? the eating disorder.
it gets to the point where you suck on a 15 calorie mint and suddenly your mind has 1,000 thoughts per minute running through it, and you just have to step on the scale just to make sure you didn't gain any weight from that mint. then just to "be safe" you have to do jumping jacks to burn off the calories. wanting to die after chewing a piece of bubble gum, because of the 'calories' isn't self control, it's the opposite. it is being controlled. how glamorous is it to be 18 and to be powerless against your own mind, and not being able to make any decisions for yourself?
the reason why i and many others, refer to the eating disorder as ED, or as a "he" is because there is a distinct difference between yourself, and the eating disorder. there are two voices in your head, your own voice, and ed's voice. Ed is lying and manipulating. many people view 'him' as an abusive husband. it's rather fitting. for some reason, i've been too scared to divorce him. i've devoted my life and world to him. the more power i give ed, the more power i lose myself. after giving and giving, my voice was 100% gone. i no longer heard courtney, the one who likes eating raw cookie dough, and cats, and laughing, and making others laugh, and singing in the car, and staying out late with friends. courtney was no where to be found. all i heard was ed, the one who told me i was allowed one apple a day, and the one who convinced me i liked running, counting calories, hiding in the corner of my room, and having the body of a 10 year old boy.
april 2014 - right before (or as) my eating disorder started to develop
december 2014 - just 8 months later. with a treatment stay in between the two pictures.
i was completely gone. there was no more spring in my step, there was no more light in my eyes, there was no more smile on my face. all that was left of me was sunken in cheek bones, bulging eyes, and a grey & yellow face. i didn't even look like myself anymore. i didn't laugh, and i didn't feel joy, i didn't feel happiness.
here's a photo that doesn't highlight or focus on my body (since eating disorders are a LOT more then a weight) but instead shows that my countenace had changed. there was no light in my eyes.
i'd tell my mom i was with friends so i wouldn't be around to eat, but I didn't actually want to be social, so instead i'd sit on the floor on the book isle of target and read. I'd go "shopping" but only because it was too cold to exercise outside, so i'd take laps around the mall. i'd spend saturday nights at walmart walking up and down the grocery isles reading and memorizing nutrition facts. i'd stare at all the food i wished i could eat while listening to ed remind me "just look, maybe touch, maybe sniff, but don't you dare even think about taking a bite."
a common belief is that anorexic's hated food. we actually just hate the way 'ed' makes us feel when we eat. in reality, we're so deprived and it causes us to become obsessed and preoccupied with food. if i wasn't thinking about ways to lose weight, i was thinking about the food i'd eat someday when i was finally recovered, or food i wished i could eat but wouldn't dream of actually eating.
now for another unknown fact: did you know, eating disorder aren't even about food?! this one took a LOT of convincing for me, and sometimes i still don't believe it. the starving isn't actually about appearance or weight. the eating disorder lies, and he makes us believe that's what it is all about. what it really is, is a numbing technique! the eating disorder is a coping mechanism, and clearly not a positive one. in the eating disorder, it was like i had a huge mask on. i no longer felt emotions. it is a way to distract myself from real life. when i'm SO focused on my growling stomach, and how repulsive i thought my thighs are, i don't have to think about the trauma, abuse, and the hard things i've experienced. there are core issues and problems underneath the body image and behind the disorder. majority of individuals with eating disorders have experienced traumatic, hard, scary things.
so what do you think about when you hear the word "anorexic?" probably not all that, you most likely think about models, being skinny, and receiving attention from your small figure.
if i hear any more friends or teenage girls brag about how "little" they've had to eat this week thinking it's 'impressive' and 'cool', or if i see one more girl turn her nose up to a cupcake trying to compete with everyone else about her "self control" and her "clean eating" i might just jump out of my seat and strangle the damn person, even though i love their guts! because starving isn't cool. trying to mold your body like it's a lump of clay isn't glamorous. it's depressing, sickening, and awful.
do you really want people to look at you and see that you're broken? do you want your countenance to have "victim" written all over it?!
because this is not courtney. this is a victim. this is a depressed, sad, numb, tired girl. this is not courtney.
the point of this picture isn't my body (in fact, looking at this picture - and all of these pictures - are still hard for me to do, i don't see myself as "sick" i still think it wasn't enough, i still feel like i could've gotten myself 'sicker' before getting help. and that's sad. no one deserves to live a life of constantly failing and never winning.) but the point of this picture is my face, and my eyes. when i just stare at my face, that's when i realize i was sick. and that's when i realize i truly no longer was 'me.'
you know what else drives me crazy about the world and this topic?? the fact that no one takes it seriously, and no one gets how dangerous it is.
did you know, more people die from eating disorders then die from cancer? the odds of beating cancer are larger then the odds of beating an eating disorder. and it only gets worse, all these eating disorder deaths are rarely recorded as death by eating disorder, they're recorded as deaths from "heart failure" or "heart disease". no wonder the world is so ignorant! i've spent more the half of my senior year living in a hospital, but since it was for an eating disorder, and not because i was bad car accident, it doesn't matter right? courtney hill will be fine right?? no. i might not ever be completely 'alright' after what my bodie (and more majorly my mind) has been through. the scariest thing about trying to recover from anorexia, or any mental disorder, is the fact that healing isn't up to the doctors, medicine, or surgery. i WISH they could just 'operator' on my brain, then i could walk away recovered, but it's just not that easy. in order to heal, my mind - my own brain - has to fight itself. my SICK brain, that has been hijacked, and taken over, has to "think" and "fight" it's own self back to health. does anyone understand how hard that is?! it's like screaming at dirt and mud to just clean itself. it's like expecting a broken vase to fix itself. how can something that's so sick just heal itself?how can something that's been robbed find its own self again??
i have anorexic. it might not be diabetic, but i still have a chronic illness. i'm still sick. my condition and diagnoses is still serious, and deathly. i did not choose this for myself.
i'm sick of mental illnesses, including anorexia, and all other eating disorders, being under the radar. i'm tired of them mental illnesses recieving no recognition, and no praise for overcoming. they have a negative stigma to them. instead of survivors of mental illness being looked at as strong, brave, and courageous, we're fairly often at as freaks who have 'issues.' i fell into that for a long time. i refused medication and wouldn't admit the diagnoses to anyone. it was embarassing.
one more fact for you.... the eating disorder is an illness, not a choice. it's an addiction. in fact, statistics and research prove that it's the second hardest addiciton to overcome after a sex addiction. recovering from an alcohol and drug addiction is easier then fighting an eating disorder.
imagine your worst fear in the whole entire world -the scariest thing you can think of - now imagine having to deal with that 6 times a day. i'm required to eat 3 meals, and 3 snacks, each and every day. but no pat on the back to me, because it's "not serious" i "chose this" and my life "isn't on the line" right?! well despite the worlds views, WRONG. just because everyone else can feed themselves, doesn't take away from the fact that this addiction is real, painful. even if everyone else can manage, the fact that eating is crippling is very real to me.
an alcoholic can avoid alcohol, but i can't avoid food. i have to face it. it is a necessity of life, yet i'm terrified of it. it's the equivalent of being allergic to air; they didn't chose that allergy, and i didn't chose this sickness.
now if you're STILL reading, congratulations; and THANK YOU. it was long winded, and a bit of a rant, but i appreciate you taking your time to hear what i have to say. and i hope this was an eye opener to what REALLY goes on underneath the appearance with eating disorders. and hopefully your perception on this illness has changed a bit.
there's nothing fancy about it, there's nothing glamorous and desirable about it. it's painful, and it's real.