Sunday, December 19, 2010


Olivia, anorexiaOlivia's NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) Symbol Tattoo

“Hi my name is Olivia, I'm 16 almost 17, and last year about October is when my eating disorder began.

It's not that anyone ever called me fat or made fun of me, it's just that I personally couldn't stand looking in the mirror. So, I began just by doing some squats, push-ups, jumping-jacks and walks each day and cutting out junk food.

Progressively, each day I got more and more obsessed; I would make myself do more exercise than the day before and eat less than the day before. I eventually got down to consuming absolutely nothing except for water; this was about right after Christmas.

Olivia, anorexia

By the time I had gotten down to eating nothing, I slowly decreased my exercise, because I had no energy whatsoever. When I couldn't exercise due to lack of energy, I would sit in my dark room for days; in fear that I would gain weight by just sitting down all day. Although I wasn't eating anything, I started taking laxatives.

Olivia, anorexia

I got to the point where I tried to head to my first block class before the school bell would ring, due to the fact that I was walking rather slow at this point and did not want to be trampled by other students. I could literally feel my heart slowly dying with every step I took.

Olivia, anorexia

At night before I would go to bed, I would always have the feeling that "hey, you are most likely going to die tonight if you don't eat something, even something little." I would tell myself this, but I could not bring myself to eat anything. It was scary to me how even though I knew I could die, I would rather die than be fat.

I distinctly remember one night where I went to sleep and locked my bedroom door and I was awoken to my mom banging at the door to unlock it, and keep it unlocked. So I got up in anger and unlocked the door. After I had gotten up, I couldn't go back to sleep. I still find it crazy how I had such a lack of energy that I could not even sleep. I remember while trying to go back to sleep, my mom coming in periodically just to make sure I was still breathing.

I was very distant from everyone around me. All of my friends stopped talking to me and my family just gave up on trying to get me to eat. One day towards the end of February, while at school, I got a slip that said that I was getting checked out so I proceeded to the office, where I saw my parents. So when we got in the car, my parents told me that we were going to the pediatrician. When we got there, my pediatrician of 16 years didn't recognize me. He said I was extremely emaciated and dehydrated and told my parents that he would get me set up at a hospital nearby where I could get fluids through an IV.

Olivia, anorexia

So my doctor called and told us to go to this psychiatric center called Brentwood, nearby where I was supposedly supposed to get mental and medical help. Well, I had heard of Brentwood before; I had never heard that they had medical help, and that they basically only treated kids with homicidal thoughts. I begged my dad and told him that this wasn't a good place, but he took me because my pediatrician thought that they did have medical attention.

When we got there, they did an assessment and then my dad began to get worried because he realized I was right. So, my dad told the people that we would just get help elsewhere. But, apparently the PECed me Physician Emergency Certificate, which held me there against my parents or my own will for 48 hours. I was so shocked and scared.

When I was there for that night, I could tell that they had no idea how to treat eating disorders. When dinner time came, which was the first food I had eaten since Christmas, I ate as much as possible, but my stomach didn't know what food was anymore. When I was eating I felt shooting pain in my stomach. Not to mention, they literally only gave me about 10 minutes to eat, then they told me to bring my tray up to see what I had eaten. I had eaten only about half of it and they yelled at me.

Olivia, anorexia

Then, before I was about to go to bed they called for everyone to line up at the medicine counter, and they handed us all the same type of pills. I asked what the hell are these for? The rude nurse said one is for depression and one is a sleeping pill. They specifically told my parents they would not drug me without their consent, but did anyway.

So here I was, dehydrated in this hellish place being drugged against my will, surrounded by a bunch of kids who were there for stabbing someone or having thoughts of killing someone.

In the morning they gave me an EKG and it came back abnormal. Thank god for that EKG, because it got me transferred out of there, to the ER of a much better actual hospital where I received medical help, IV and fluids for about 4 days. Once, I had gotten discharged, my doctor at the hospital advised my parents to take me to a hospital in Dallas, Children's Medical Center, where they had a unit that specializes in eating disorders. My dad said that we could do it on our own and declined.

The day after I got out, I was back to not eating again and my same old routines. I had thought about the hospital in Dallas and had started to want to really go. I told my dad and begged him to take me there. He was so shocked that I would want to go, but he didn't really want me to go; but, he said he would try to get me there.

Olivia, anorexia

So one weekend, we headed for Dallas and the hospital, when we got there they did an assessment and some other things; I was happy I thought I was finally going to be admitted into this unit. Well, I wasn't that day, and was devastated. Apparently our insurance wouldn't cover it at the time and on top of that, the doctors there said that my heart was on the verge of failing, and that before I could join the unit and start eating on my own that I would have to go to a cardiologist and receive fluids to my heart, I was so pissed off. I just wanted to be in the unit and get help.

So, we drove back to Bossier City, LA and had to receive help there for my heart. My parents had gotten the stuff with the insurance company straightened out and within a week we were finally back at the hospital. I was excited to be around kids that were going through the same thing as me. When I walked in I was kind of scared; most of the kids had feeding tubes attached to their noses. I found out that if they missed a few meals, that they would get the tube. I was determined to not get the tube and get out as fast as possible.

Olivia, anorexia

I was inpatient for about a month and partial patient which was where I would come from 7AM-5PM for a little over a month. I had been admitted on March 16 and had been discharged on May 17th.

I had met so many awesome people; the kids there were so motivating. We all got over our struggles together. Since then, I have been doing well, with little to no slip-ups. I'm happy; making all A's and I'm currently in 6 school clubs. I also got a job at a local pizza place. I have gone from being 68 pounds to a much healthier weight. I have also gotten a tattoo of the NEDA symbol to remind me of my journey every day, not that I could ever forget it.”

Olivia, anorexia

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I have started this email more times than I can count only to delete it. Part of me has been worried about telling my story perfectly and another part has been worried that I didn’t have a story worth telling.

I am almost 22 and have been dealing with an eating disorder since I was seven years old.

When I was 4 years old I was diagnosed with Leukemia and underwent 2 and a half years of chemotherapy. I remember being so happy that it was done and I got to be a normal kid. On my make a wish trip to Disney World I was sexually abused by three strangers and it was shortly after that I remember having the first negative thoughts about my body and sneaking food to binge on.

Shortly after this trauma, I was raped by an older cousin which only sent my thoughts into further chaos.

When I was 12 my behaviors changed drastically and I began restricting. How little I ate in a day is not important. I lost weight, and like many of us, got positive feedback. Unfortunately I kept going.

Throughout high school my anorexia was a secret. I had some other health issues that were an easy explanation for why I was so thin. I remember being on a walk with my Dad when I was a sophomore and in the lowest place I had gotten (I didn’t know then how much lower I would sink). I told my Dad that I had an eating disorder and needed help. Neither he nor my mother said anything for years.

When I went away to college my restricting got worse and obsessive exercise, a beast I thought I had under control, reared its head again and I lost more weight. The only one who noticed and worried was my boyfriend from high school but we were at different schools, states away and it was easy to let him think I was doing better than I was.

That summer I went home, excited to be around friends, to get to spend time with my boyfriend (Andrew) and see my family. I spent a lot of time with a friend from high school, Nick. Unfortunately, my judgment about this friendship was seriously flawed. He sexually assaulted me on several occasions when I was on pain medications that left me vulnerable.

After these assaults, my eating disorder went into overdrive and I lost more and more weight. Six months later I finally told my parents I had had enough and wanted to start treatment. I remember the day of my intake at an outpatient treatment center near school. I was so nervous I thought I was going to faint. They suggested I do their 8 hour a day program. I said I’d come once a week for group because school was my priority.

I was in treatment for four months before I went home once again for the summer and didn’t gain any weight or make any noticeable progress in curbing my behaviors.

That summer at home I lost even more weight in a desperate attempt to deal with spending every day in the place where I had been attacked. At the end of the summer, which was the most miserable time of my life despite being at my thinnest, a place the AN told me would make me happy, I went back to school and started treatment again, this time 5 days a week.

Now, almost a year later, I am weight restored and finally getting a handle on restricting. Today is day 10 without any symptoms and following my meal plan 100%. I am in a place where my body and mind are healthy enough to start the real work—dealing with the sexual abuse I have suffered and the damage it has inflicted on my self image, both physical and emotional.

I am still in treatment and will probably be for the foreseeable future but for the first time in 15 years, there is light at the end of the tunnel rather than a specific number or size. I feel uncomfortable in my body every second of every day and most of the time would give anything to be my thinnest again so I could just hide, but I try to tell myself all the positive things recovery has brought me. I have moments where I’m warm, it doesn’t hurt just to sit, I haven’t blacked out or collapsed in months, I don’t feel my heart palpitating after climbing three stairs, my fiancé can hug me and not be afraid to break me.

I hope that all the wonderful men and women who follow this blog will read this and know that recovery is possible. I’m still in the early stages but it is possible to recover, be healthy and get some relief from the ED voice. And life becomes so much more vibrant and real when you give your body the food it needs and the respect it deserves.


Attached is a picture I love. It symbolizes to me the steady ground that recovery is, upon which I must base my life."

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Monday, December 6, 2010


There is nothing like NYC leading up to Christmas. It is dazzling and bewitching.

I arrived home last night to over 500 emails, so please bear with me...once again. I will try to get back to you all ASAP.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A lone Belgian boy is waiting at the side of a road to salute Canadian troops as they pass by. The Canadians had just attended a memorial service

Canadian troops, including both of my grandfathers, fought valiantly at the Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. I was given a beautifully embroidered handkerchief from Belgium by my Granny Dey. My grandfather had bought it for her during the war in Belgium. It is one of my treasures.

Please take a moment to watch this amazing video:

Such class from the Canadian what they do for this little boy. Makes me so proud to be a Canadian.

The "Eyes Right" command is the biggest compliment troops on parade can pay and is normally reserved for dignitaries in reviewing stands.

And Lest we forget...please hold a minute of silence at 11:00 tomorrow morning (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) for all those men and women who fought and died for our freedom.

Remembrance Day, In Flanders Fields

From the Canadian War Museum website:

"The poppy is the recognized symbol of remembrance for war dead in Canada, the countries of the British Commonwealth, and the United States. The flower owes its significance to the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae, a doctor with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, in the midst of the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium, in May 1915.

The poppy references in the first and last stanzas of the most widely read and oft-quoted poem of the war contributed to the flower's status as an emblem of remembrance and a symbol of new growth amidst the devastation of war."

Below is the poem, In Flanders Fields, which I was required in school to memorize as a young girl in Alberta, Canada:

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Remembrance Day poppy


Lieutenant Commander Philip Henry, RCN (Royal Canadian Navy)
My Father, Lieutenant Commander Philip Henry, RCN (Royal Canadian Navy)
(World War II)

My Grandfather, Philip Henry (World War I)

My Grandfather, James Dey (World War I)


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


My story is nothing compared to all of the others stories I have read on your blog.

I feel that I’m not even a proper anorexic.

Well, I guess I will start where it all began.

I am 17 years old. I live in Australia. I have a twin sister. I am anorexic.

When I was 12 years old, my 6 foot 8 dad was in a parachuting accident in the army. As he jumped out of the plane, he collided with another man and fell 80 feet to the ground. He landed on his feet and his whole body just crushed. He broke nearly every bone in his body, was in hospital for 7 months straight on his back. It was an accident he should not have survived.

Since then he has been in and out of hospital for physical and mental health. He has post traumatic stress disorder from war, and is very mentally unwell. He has tried to commit suicide several times. Also has left my family for other women a few times too. One time he overdosed and no one knew that he was collapsed in his room at his army base. My friend walked in after he had been missing for hours; he said my dad only just lived. Had he gotten to my dad any later, he would be dead.

My dad was medically discharged from work at the age of 40. I don’t blame him for any of this as mental illness can completely change who you are.

After my dad got sick, I had to play the other parent role. This included cooking, cleaning, helping with home work, and shutting my little sisters off in a room and turning the music up loud so they could not hear my parents fighting and things being thrown around the house.

Then my twin sister developed bulimia when she was 13 years old. Eating disorders at this stage were very new to me. I had no idea why she would do this to herself. Her bulimia did not start as 'I am so fat' thoughts but it was just merely a coping mechanism, to cope with all the stress and traumatic events we had been through. She had no idea why she did it, and was scared.

My dad and twin sister got more and more unwell. I began to fall. I was always so strong, and was always the mature, responsible one. I kept saying to my mum, I need to get out of this house, I can sense that something bad is going to happen. And she was just like stop being stupid, our life is perfect. I kept crying to myself as I knew something bad was coming my way.

The next Christmas I was 14 and mum sent me and my twin sister to go stay with my grandparents in Queensland. While we were in QLD, my twin got very depressed and had self-harmed with cuts all up her arm. Self-harming was all new to me as well. One day my grandma decided to take us shopping. My twin refused to come. While we were out, I got a text from a friend saying hurry before it’s too late, so I got my grandma to drive me back to her house straight away, to walk into my sister with a huge kitchen knife, crying in her room. I was shocked and upset.

When we got home after our trip to QLD mum said to me wow (year 10) everyone kept saying 'oh you’re so skinny', you look so thin. For some reason this made me so happy. That afternoon, I walked up to the mirror in my room and looked in the mirror. I could see all my rib bones, my spine, my collar bone. My legs were tiny and did not touch, my stomach was flat!! I thought wow I am so skinny. I then weighed myself for the first time.

So I continued in constantly checking my body every single day, from every single angle. I loved being told I was skinny. It was music to my ears. So I noticed that I was not eating much at all. Which I eventually got used to. I was playing netball and soccer 4 times a week and going for a run nearly every day. That year went on and I continued to stay quite thin.

Throughout that year, my family problems got worse. My parents separated for the 5th time, and I had witnessed a lot of angry behaviour from my dad, such as throwing objects, yelling and screaming. My dad thankfully would never lay a finger on any of us. My twin sister got worse with her bulimia and was binging and purging a lot.

The following year, I had this dream every night for 2 weeks that I woke up in a psychiatric hospital. It disturbed me so much and made me depressed. I told my mum about it and she said just to ignore it. 2 months later, I got so sick that I could not even get out of bed. I was emaciated, pale, and weak.

My mum called a psychologist in Sydney straight away and I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and the next week I was admitted into an eating disorder unit. This hospital did nothing for me. I was in there for 6 weeks. As soon as I was discharged, I relapsed straight away and lost 6kg in one week. I always was getting dizzy and almost fainting. At this time I had been with my boyfriend for 6 months. He was always so supportive. That year continued with me not eating very much, if anything at all. I always looked in the mirror and just cried as I was so so fat.

That year my sister's bulimia worsened, and she developed an abusive behaviour. This involved her physically hurting my mum or me. I would have to stand between her and my mum so she could stop hurting and hitting/kicking/punching/throwing objects at my mum. At the same time, I also had to put my two younger sisters in a room and turn music up so they could not be exposed to this disturbing behaviour. I ended up with bruises and scratches all the time. We usually had to call the police and ambulance to come and calm her down. It was so upsetting to see my beautiful twin sister so sick, and mentally unwell. She was purging 15 plus times a day. She was so unwell. Yet mum still would not put her in hospital.

I developed self-harming and got extremely depressed. I continued to lose weight and be depressed. I still had my amazing boyfriend to look after me. I have since then been in hospital another 3 times. I feel so fat and disgusting. I am too embarrassed to leave the house. I constantly weigh myself and check my body. We now have an AVO against my dad as he is too sick to be around us. I have not seen him in 2 months. There is so much information I have left out, as my life story is a long one.

I am still anorexic and extremely depressed. I feel I have never succeeded in being a proper anorexic. I am looking at another admission in the next few weeks. I feel so weak and tired, and yesterday I fainted at work. I feel so alone. But I want to get better. I have been with my amazing boyfriend for 21 months. I could not have made it this far without him. He is my everything.

I feel so alone. Your blog has helped me a lot. Helped me not feel so alone.

I hope my story can help.


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Sunday, November 7, 2010


"Hello Medusa.

First I would like to thank you for your blog. It has kept me from falling deeper into the abyss of eating disorders. Thank you so much for your work and sharing our stories. You help us getting through this. Also, I would like to apologize for my English. It's not my mother language and it's not very good... I'll try to do my best with it. I won't send you a picture of me... because... I'm a coward and I'm paranoid someone will find out my secret. I hope nevertheless that you will read my story. I really need to share it.

I do, however, have a blog I'd like to show you. It's mostly in Spanish, but it has some posts in English. Its address is That blog, which I named "I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all" as a sign of wanting to feel and live in spite of my pain, is the only place where I can write down all the things I can't tell the people I know. Writing is my therapy, the only escape I have from my crazy mind. Writing is the only thing I'm good at. Writing is my life.

This is... so damn hard to write. Because, I don't have the typical ED story. I have never been diagnosed with anything. Nobody suspects anything. I'm not even underweight, or at least not visibly underweight. I don't even know if I'm anorectic or bulimic or EDNOS or what... I just know this cannot be normal. I know I have a problem, and I know I have to admit it, get help.

But I can't.

My blogger nickname is Yanagi. Yanagi means willow in Japanese. And my name is Natalia. I've always wanted to be as strong as a willow is. I'm Colombian and I'm sixteen years old. I have this issues since I was fourteen, but their evil seed has always been on me.

I've never been the kind of person who likes to be helped. I like to do everything on my own. And do it perfectly. I hate criticism and I hate failing. I can't stand it. I've always wanted to be recognized for something, but all I achieve is a fake reflection of what I really am.

Maybe I have lost any idea of who I am. Ana and Mia stole it from me.

This comes from my family. My mom had anorexia when people didn't even care what anorexia was. She is slightly shorter than I am (I'm 5'6 and she's 5'5) and she got to weigh 90 pounds when she was my age. She didn't eat or sleep and she had lots of problems with my grandmother. One night she fainted. The doctor told her that either she ate or quit school. She picked eating. But even now she doesn't have a healthy relationship with food and body image. Her weight is stable around 110, but she thinks she's fat. She loves seeing me get thinner, and always congratulates me when I do. My sister has gastric problems, so the highest weight she has attained is 108. She's so skinny and has always made me feel so fat in comparison! And my grandmother is always checking if I eat or not and what I eat. She has made food something incredibly important for me.

I've always felt fat and ugly. I was very unpopular when I was younger. My sister and my aunt always told me I was chubby and needed to lose weight. Now I look at pictures and I know I wasn't that chubby! Not every 10 years old is as slim as a stick! I just happened to be kind of short and have a tummy. The girls in my school were not kinder. They called me "the ugliest girl in the classroom" and "chihuahua dog". They showed their prepubescent flat tummies at each other and I felt so fat. Their mothers took them to gyms. They went to parties. Boys liked them. They wore fashionable clothing. They had many friends. And I was always this nerdy fat lonely weirdo who liked reading and heavy metal.

Then I went through puberty. I got a lot taller. And went from weighing under 110 to weighing over 130. I didn't freak out, but I didn't like my weight. I always lied saying it was lower than it really was. I started loathing everything about me. My hair, long and messy as it was. My nose. My skin and its pimples. My wide hips. My tummy. My thighs. My arms. My nails. My big, rat-like, teeth. I was depressed because of many things that happened to me during that time, like my parents' divorce. I started cutting myself. I wanted to die. I cut my arms, legs and even my lips. I cried and cried... but I never asked for help.

I survived pretty well that depression, though. But then something worse happened: I discovered pro ana sites. I accidentally started reading one of them, as I've been a blogger for a very long time. First I hated those blogs, I was horrified and considered pro ana girls stupid. But... My curiosity increased. I created a blog, just to check what their world was like. I had a need to belong somewhere, too.

But.... I was such a fool. I never imagined how weak I was and how easy it was for me to fall.

I looked at this girls' photos and thinspiration. I decided that it was true I was fat. And I didn't want to have an eating disorder, I just thought that this... pro ana advice.... could help me to look fit and lose a few pounds. Such a fool! Me! The smart girl who would never do shallow dumb things like getting an ED.

Somewhere, somehow, I lost it. I lost control.

I'm not underweight. I'm almost underweight, I'm 106 pounds. But I hate food. I've barely eaten this week. Sometimes I binge. And sometimes I purge. But I hate myself. I want to get thinner! I want to be 100 pounds! I want to be pretty and perfect... But I'm afraid this will take me away from everything I care about.

Now I have the "perfect life". I have many friends who like the same things I like, I have freedom, money, my lovely family, a boyfriend who loves me, I do well at school, I know what to do with my life, I have lots of fun every weekend, I don't have many responsibilities, people in school respect me now...

But I feel so empty... That's why I say I'm crazy. I have everything and I still feel like I have to be thin to be loved. I don't understand myself. I'm very afraid of loneliness, depression and death. I'm afraid of the EDs.

This is a poem I wrote about purging... It's not very good, but here it is:


Please forgive me.
I'm a sinner, I'm a criMInAl.
My throat hurts, my voice is silent.
My mouth tastes like blood.
Please forgive me.
Please repent me.
Wash my mouth.
Heal my fingers.
Raise my voice.
Clean the blood.
Take me to the good path.
Please... forgive me.

Medusa, I still have hope. I want to recover... I left the pro ana community long ago. So I think I will be able to win this battle. I want to tell all the girls in my situation that thinness is not happiness, and that they can't lose hope. Hope is the last thing to lose.

I also sent you a picture of a vintage ad. It's in Spanish, but it reads " DON'T BE SKINNY. Be a woman of great proportions. PLUS-FORMA generates flesh on the thinnest silhouettes..."

Isn't it funny how times have changed? Thank you very much for reading this,


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Saturday, November 6, 2010


“No matter what, stay strong. I want you to recover and find happiness. I know you will beat this! If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me.”

It was these words that gave me the strength to fight my disease. A disease that had enmeshed itself within me for far too long; a disease that had robbed me of so much in life; a disease that eventually led to multiple suicide attempts & irreparable damage to my body.

In 2008, my life drastically took a turn for the worst. I felt completely out of control of the situations I was facing at the time. As a result of feeling this lack of control over my life, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms.

I decided to control every morsel of food that entered my mouth and exercise for hours on end, to numb myself of the emotional pain that was so overwhelming. Soon I was exercising between 3-5 hours and eating as little as 120 calories every day. My diet consisted of lettuce, apples, chewing-gum and cigarettes. These unhealthy behaviours quickly spiraled into Anorexia Nervosa.

In a matter of months, my weight had dropped 25kg. Not only was my blood pressure extremely low and my heart rate 42 bpm, but I also stopped menstruating, and grew a fuzzy coat of lanugo all over my body. My hair started falling out, my skin was dry, my nails, brittle. Electrolyte imbalances posed a threat of sudden death from heart attack, and the damage to my heart and vital organs was extensive. My body was shutting down.

Discharged from hospital in 2008 after being in there for 6 weeks due to complications from anorexia

For so long I had hidden my behaviours from my family and friends, it was my best kept secret. It didn’t take long for the Anorexia to develop into Binge Eating Disorder. After depriving myself for so long, my body hungered for nourishment. Food was the unwanted cure. I tried to fight uncontrollable urges to binge, however my body always won.

I found comfort in food, and turned to bingeing as a way to fill the emptiness inside me, the unexplainable void. A consequential weight gain of 35kgs catapulted me into a severe depression which led to insomnia, isolation, panic attacks, self-harm and multiple suicide attempts.

This lack of control over food had me desperate for a cure, and I soon discovered the art of purging. It seemed a cure-all for my problems at first, but then Bulimia took on a life of its own.

Purging releases 12 neuron chemicals in the brain, including endorphins, which induce a state of numbness and euphoria. Essentially it is a neurological addiction, with the ‘high’ being the same as those experienced by many drug addicts. I found myself doing everything I could in order to achieve the high that purging brings.

Initially, purging had been for me, a way to release my emotions and erase my mistakes. However, it had grown into something entirely different. I needed that high, at a chemical level I was addicted to it. I needed to throw up. Therefore, I needed to eat food so that I could throw it up. In other words, I had gone from believing I was in control, to knowing that without a doubt I was the one who was in fact being controlled.

My health began to deteriorate rapidly. I experienced further heart complications, severe damage to my digestive system, dehydration, tears in my oesophagus and I was throwing up blood. Cue first hospital admission.

Following discharge, I continued to engage in eating disordered behaviour.

In 2010 two tragic events re-shaped my life. I was raped and I lost my best friend, Tahayna, to the same illness that plagued me. After the rape, my Bulimia and Depression worsened to the point where I was purging up to 8 times a day and attempted suicide 17 times.

Recovery was not going to be easy, and I knew that it wasn’t going to happen overnight. It was my friend Tahayna’s choice to recover from her Anorexia that gave me the strength and inspiration to finally recover and beat the illness myself. Alongside Tahayna’s dedication and progress in recovery, her happiness and hope grew incrementally. Seeing her life begin to change in a positive way, inspired me to pursue health as well, and fight as hard as I could to get my life back.

Tahayna was accepted into a treatment programme in London, known as Remuda Ranch. She recovered quickly and was back at home in Adelaide after 6 months. Unfortunately, her body never fully recovered and she was placed on life support. After months of hope for her to get better, doctors said the chances of her body functioning again were very low, so her family decided to turn off her life support and let her rest in peace.

My health continued to deteriorate, and after a check-up with my doctor, he urged me to admit myself into hospital. My family was unaware of my eating disorder at this time so I refused to accept treatment. As fate would have it, my mother found the referral letter for the gastro-oncologist, and put all the pieces together. After she confronted me about it I decided to go ahead with the recommended treatment. I did not want to let Tahayna down. I wanted to recover for her, so at least one of us could make it out alive.

I was admitted into the psychiatric ward at Women’s and Children’s hospital. However, they do not specialise in eating disorders. I have now been accepted into Flinders Weight Disorder Unit which has been acknowledged as one of the best eating disorder clinics in the nation. My team from Flinders are working on a programme to prepare me for my admission, as well as working on improving my mental state, so that I am mentally strong enough to be able to benefit from the admission. In the mean while I am being admitted to the psychiatric and medical ward on a fortnightly basis and am getting rehydrated weekly.

Before Tahayna passed away she said to me, “No matter what, stay strong. I want you to recover and find happiness. I know you will beat this! If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for me.”

If it weren’t for Tahayna Jade I would not be in recovery right now. I am so thankful for her presence and impact in my life; the inspiration and strength she has given me. Suffering from an eating disorder has prevented me from achieving so much in life; I have lost my health, relationships, grades and consequently, I may never be able to have children. I refuse to let my eating disorder take away any more from my life. It has caused enough damage.

Recovery takes strength, but I continue to fight every day. I will work to overcome this illness and, eventually, help others suffering from eating disorders. I want to inspire others, just as Tahayna inspired me, and show them that recovery is possible.

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"Hi I'm Joy. You could post this if you want but it might be too long. Even though I've actually tried to be as brief as possible. Although to be honest, I doubt anyone will ever read it/want to read it, I'm really not that interesting or dramatic sadly. I have one picture that is from when I was between 90 & 95lbs & one picture of a happier moment a few years apart.

What you see in the mirror is disgusting. The whole body is covered in fat, so much fat it’s unbearable to look. Your body is disgusting, far too disgusting, there are one hundred imperfections to every inch. The closer you look the worse it gets. How can you ever accept every line? Every pore? Every spot? There is too much fat, too much skin, too much you. It’s not the right shape, it’s not the right colour, it’s not the right size. How much pain must you have inside that your mind itself has turned on your outside instead?

This is my story. It is not an inspiring story. It is a fairly detailed story showing exactly how fast anorexia can take hold without even knowing in it. How secrecy turned a diet into the rest of my life in a matter of days. How both mine and my doctors reliance on statistics confused my development of bulimia with recovery.

I am 19 years old. I live with my boyfriend and beautiful baby daughter. I am a recovered anorexic. I feel I should use that label as I was discharged from treatment several years ago.

I had heard of anorexia in a little detail, in science classes at school and in age appropriate novels & magazines, long before I ever went on a diet. The message that was given out was that anorexic people ate next to nothing and had skeletal figures - far removed from everyday life - not something that I should be watching out for if I tried to lose weight.

And at 13 I did just that - decided I needed to lose weight. I wasn't exactly overweight - about 121lbs - but compared to the images portrayed all around me - I was much larger than 'beautiful'. My plans were immediately forced into secrecy as I knew my family would not approve. Without being able to seek advice on a healthy diet and with no means to purchase my own food there was only one option open to me, simply don't eat anything that you don't have to. Nothing in private. Nothing optional. I stayed in bed until lunchtime so I could have breakfast instead & then just eating as little of dinner as possible without arousing suspicion. Instantly and without knowing it I had started a dangerous dieting method as I had no other.

This very quickly progressed to disposing of more of dinner with methods as inventive as stuffing pasta in a deflated beachball lying around in the dining room when my mother had left the room to make coffee. Believing I was still too fat to even look at myself, the only indicator this was working was the scale number was going down. The success felt good at least, meaning I was more determined not to be discovered and stopped. I felt I couldn't even let my mother know I was weighing myself so as soon as she went out I would sneak them into my room, get the number and put them back. From the start I felt I also needed to hide any exercise as I had never done any before - so only quiet exercises in my bedroom - sit ups and wiggling for hours before I slept at night in bed.

I suppose the weight loss could have been considered dramatic - as after only three weeks, whilst claiming I had a sore throat and couldn't eat anything at a family picnic my mum said "I hope you’re not turning anorexic on us." Up until then that was certainly not the word I'd have gone for, I was still 'fat' for instance, ate every day & had literally just started a diet. Nevertheless, I got on the internet and found an online community where there seemed to be lots of teenagers exercising the same behaviour as I was and it claimed to be 'pro-anorexic'. And from then on that was the label I followed.

Over the next few weeks my behaviour continued in the same way, possibly getting slowly more avoidant of food - getting very angry when I was told we were going out for dinner & abolishing my 'rewards' for staying on a diet (which was actually three Doritos from a large bag in my wardrobe a day) Until one week my mother - who hadn't really said all too much else on the matter - took me to be weighed on the scales at the local supermarket which prints a little slip out. I tried to deny it to myself but I knew I was getting discovered. First week of this 105lbs, second week 99lbs, third week 94lbs. I didn't know but at the same time my mother was seeing a doctor. She had shown him two pictures one of me - from then and one six weeks previously. And so I had only been following my diet for less than 2 months when I was given a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa. I thought this was insane, thinking of what I'd seen on pro-anorexia websites, I was not a 'real' anorexic - I ate too much, I was too fat.

Shortly afterward, my mother took us to an all you can eat Chinese buffet for my friend's birthday. In defiance, I ate a lot more than I would have intended. I had read about purging on the internet and for the first time I made myself sick in the restaurant bathroom. It didn't work all too well but I was thrilled that I now had a method to avoid digesting even what I was forced to swallow. I continued the same behavior of eating dinner only at home, but this time afterward I made myself sick. The toilet would be far too loud. So I put music on and was sick in a plastic bag folded over my bedroom bin and stored the bags in the wardrobe. Too scared to dispose of these bags it didn't take long for my mother to smell them and discover them. She left a note in which she said that she loved me and if I had to do this could I put the bags of sick in the outside bin please. I was so embarrassed, but I continued anyway - with the occasional trip to the outdoor bin when she was out.

I couldn't wait to get back to school where I could easily avoid food without question all day. I was unaware my teachers had been instructed to watch me and report back home. I didn't care about the questions from my peers as there was nothing they could do to prevent my behaviour so I just sat in the dining hall at lunch and didn't eat my packed lunch. I then went home and had a lettuce, tomato & cucumber salad, with a boiled egg white. Estimated 50 calories a day. I don't remember too much around then. At some point family therapy started. At some point I started having to be weighed every week at the hospital. I was talked about behind my back at school. One day in class we were looking through a newspaper, there was a picture of a skeleton on one page and one girl shouted, "Look, that’s Joy." Charming.

Continuing with the mentality I had discovered on the online community I posted photos of myself on the internet to which I was greeted with various comments from "you are almost perfect" & "wow you are so thin" & a few "that is disgusting eat something." "Good," I thought, "I've actually changed something." Except I was 88lbs & 5'7'' and my goal had been progressively dropping the whole time.

A particular type of comment still sticks in my head though - and that was the prejudice from anorexics. They told me I was a bad person for 'wanting' their illness. That I must be stupid and vain. A true isolation, a realization that there was no community supporting what I was doing. I didn't fit with normal people. I wasn't accepted by anorexics. My struggles weren't as bad as their struggles. My illness wasn't as real as their illness. They told me I was faking anorexia. That a real anorexic was ashamed of it (and in my real life, I suppose that was the case). This only convinced me more I wasn't really anorexic - I knew I was underweight, but there was still too much of me - and therefore it validated that I was healthy and normal. Every time I got within 10lbs of my goal I knew I would still be too fat at my goal so I had to drop it. My goal was now 70lbs. I didn't see anything dangerous about it at all. After all, people claiming to be anorexic (who I now later realize didn't really know anything about me) had told me I wasn't ill. Just a bad person.

The scales were removed from the house and I was banned from going out without a responsible adult amid fears I may collapse. I had no number to go on anymore. The hospital weight was kept secret from me and written on a piece of paper given to my stepdad until I seemed to be 'recovering.' This was so humiliating - up until this point I had been a very private person. And now everything I had hidden from those closest to me was pretty much broadcast to everyone my mother knew. The questions made me feel very angry and I had no control over what people thought about me anymore.

The feelings of hurting my family made me feel even more terrible about myself. I moved on from my salad for a while, and sometimes went for a week without eating anything and sometimes I allowed myself a fat-free 90kcal yoghurt every 3 days. I sucked on sugar free lollypops when my dad came to visit & wanted to buy me sweets. I sometimes chewed sugar free gum and drank peppermint tea. The emptiness was addictive - and I had pretty much stopped eating.

And then I was given the news from my therapist that if I lost one more pound my bmi would be so low I would be admitted to hospital. I was so angry - particularly knowing that I drank as much water as possible before hospital weigh-ins, so I was already truly below that weight. By this point I had completely given up exercising. I was constantly freezing cold. I came home from school - in which I couldn't concentrate - and sat on my bed and stared in the mirror and listened to music for about 4 or 5 hours and then went to bed. I didn't do anything. I had barely any energy to think let alone be productive or have any kind of social life yet I didn't even think for a second that I wanted to change it. Changing was unthinkable. I would live my non-life for my much more important purpose. If I changed I would lose control.

However, with the knowledge I was headed for the hospital, my mother had a different idea. So I came home one day, she made a sandwich and I had to sit in the same chair in the living room supervised until I ate the sandwich. I wouldn't be able to use the computer or sleep until I'd eaten it. And I had to stay there for 90 minutes afterward to ensure I didn't throw it up. I was enraged by the trap and lack of privacy so this worked quickly. Within 3 hours the sandwich had gone and I went out for a walk. I admitted defeat on this front and soon returned to eating one meal a day. But always less than 500kcal.

My head couldn't take this U-turn though - going from eating less and less to suddenly going back up. Within two weeks the vice-like grip against eating food had disappeared. Nobody was home so I took biscuits, crisps and cakes up to my room. Lots of them. I ate them all after dinner and feel incredibly guilty afterward was sick. And again later in the evening. My stomach looked about 6 months pregnant. I vowed that this would never happen again. There was no reason for this, myself had done this to myself. No-one had seen me eat that - therefore there was no reason.

But a few days later it happened again, like a robot to the kitchen then up to my room. A shameful secret. From then guilt led to extreme angry reactions when people would comment on how little I ate. They knew nothing. I ate like a pig. I ate 6000kcal a day some days. Admitting I was indeed out of control I screamed angry, terrible, irrational remarks to people online I am so ashamed but I can't remember my password to delete them now. To the people telling me I had 'chosen' to be like this. To the people telling me I was 'strong', I felt I had let them down. That I was living a lie. My weight remained 'stable'.

I kept trying to reduce the amount I ate again; I knew that the binging was by far overtaking any attempts to stop it. My weight might have remained stable but my head certainly wasn't, and neither was the size of my stomach.

This wasn't the diet I'd started anymore, this was now completely out of control.

Too much out of control to eat the dietician’s now seemingly tiny meal plan. My body had started to take its own action to gain weight and my will to make myself sick was waning. The week I gained my first pound was three weeks after Christmas - 7 months after I'd began. Not long really. I was actually relieved it was only one pound, but my family was thrilled. When the following week I dropped a pound they were furious. I didn't know why, I had actually eaten a lot, but they were very angry with me. This certainly was a massive blow to my self esteem; I felt they completely judged me on the number on the scale also. Despite my constant binges, followed by short-lived fast attempts I continued to gain 1lb a week. The recommended amount by my doctor - and therefore I must have been completely fine because the scale said so. I felt worse than ever.

One particular week I dreaded so much I may have gained more than a pound and in fear I jumped out of my stepdad's moving car whilst he was driving me to the hospital. I hid in a stranger’s garden and avoided the weigh-in. After a year I had 'been returned' to my target weight of 128lbs. After another year of the pretty pointless therapy (my family weren't exactly enthusiastic about this - and neither was I) I was finally discharged and freed from the humiliating process of parading my now rather curvy body around in my underwear every week for weigh in time. The larger I got, the less I enjoyed that bit. I still would not enjoy that now but I would say it’s pretty normal not to enjoy being told to strip down to your underwear by a stranger.

I would say several years passed by pretty eventless as far as weight is concerned. I gradually climbed to about 142lbs - began to ignore the scales. I hated my body and certainly was eating junk and not healthily but I was as normal as any teenager. Occasionally, started a fast which was always short-lived. I began drinking alcohol instead of eating at college and dropped to 122lbs but not exactly a "wheel her into hospital" weight loss there. Yet the pull of nostalgia has been ceaseless, and the weight loss methods using the only method I know constantly recurrent.

Until, that is, I got pregnant. Being pregnant I ate more than ever - my work colleagues couldn't help but comment on how I could eat 7 x 500kcal portions of cake in a day easily, with a sandwich, chocolate bar and crisps for breakfast, and a panini for lunch, takeaway each night for dinner. It was acceptable to me because I was pregnant. I shot up to 200lbs - gaining over 80lbs in 7 months I imagine is an achievement in anyone’s books. Sickened by my body less than 3 months after the birth of my daughter I was 122lbs again. A lot of people asked me how I did it. I laugh and say I stopped eating the cakes. And now, only 4 months later, believing I was finished my diet - and eating lots again - my head says I can't be happy til that’s 112 there. From experience I know that will then become 102. Then 92. And so on. But my feelings block that out; they say I must do it. They say I must start again tomorrow. And maybe I will.

I went to see a doctor last week. On an unrelated topic but nevertheless I happened to mention that I'd managed to get to 122lbs from 200lbs in about three months. Even with my medical history in front of them, they didn't bat an eyelid. It appears that they only care when you’re in danger of starving yourself to death and that they are treating the physical problems but not the causes."

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Sunday, October 31, 2010


My computer that just crashed was fried. Oh joy.

On Friday, my new computer arrived, and I'm still trying to sort out wires :^) I hope to have everything sorted out by tomorrow night.

Thankfully, my computer tech was able to save my e-mail so I hope to be responding and posting your stories this week.

Thanks to you all for your patience.

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Heidi Diaz (aka Kimmer) during her deposition

"Today, October 29, 2010, Judge Rick Brown of the Riverside County Superior Court entered a verdict for the plaintiffs in a certified national class action lawsuit. The court entered a verdict against Heidi Diaz the owner of the diet website for fraud and false advertising. The court awarded the class members restitution in the amount of $1,824,210.39. The court also awarded an additional $500,000 in punitive damages as well as attorney fees. The court then issued a temporary restraining order to freeze all of the assets of Ms. Diaz.

Most notably, the court also imposed an injunction requiring Heidi Diaz to post on all of her websites that: (1) she lied about her weight loss; (2) she lied about her after diet pictures; (3) she lied about testimonials on her website; and (4) she lied about the photographs used with the testimonials to promote the Kimkins website.

An injunction was also issued to prevent Heidi Diaz from contracting, harassing or cyberbulling the plaintiffs and the witnesses. A formal judgment will be entered before November 19, 2010.

The original complaint was filed over three years ago on October 15, 2007. I want to thank everyone who supported the class action lawsuit. The Ducks* were wonderful. I met a lot of great people and made a lot of new friends fighting for a good cause. Heidi Diaz lied on her website and made the fatal mistake of lying in the courtroom. You cannot trust Heidi Diaz. I anticipate more legal (illegal) maneuvering by Heidi Diaz to evade the judgment. We will be prepared and I will be relentless. Again, I thank all you.

John E. Tiedt
(Attorney for the Plaintiffs)

* "Ducks" is a nickname for the indefatigable former members of Kimkins who brought Heidi Diaz (Kimmer) to justice. Ducks not only lost money to Diaz because of her deadly diet, Kimkins...many developed eating disorders and other serious health issues.

You can read more about the deadly diet, Kimkins, and Heidi Diaz, by doing a search of my site.

Here is one of my posts from late last year:

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Monday, October 18, 2010


To all who have been waiting for me to publish their stories and answer their emails, I suffered another computer meltdown last Tuesday. It's currently being repaired, so I hope to be up and running again by the end of this week. If its injuries are fatal, I will have to replace it this weekend.

My apologies to all who have been wondering if I'd run off and joined the circus. Come to think of it, that sounds like a great idea right now.

Thanks to all for your patience.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


"Hi Medusa,

This is very hard for me to do. I am a young girl, about to turn 20, and I have one more year of college to go. I have read your blog for over a year, and truly think the stories you share are wonderful. Therefore, I would like to share my story with you.

I have lived all my life in third world countries. Since I have been 12-13, I have always been in the top 5 % of my class, I have always been the girl organizing social events, doing as much as possible outside school hours and so on. In some way, I always used to do as much as possible. And I still do. I even managed to get into a great college. There has just been one problem in my life: my self-harm and numerous EDs.

What I describe here above was not intended to sound conceited or anything like that. It’s just how many people see me. But, that is not how I would describe myself.

My EDs started when I was 13 and slightly overweight (I weighed 130 pounds at 5'2).

I used to be a ballet dancer, and for the institution I was dancing ballet at, I had to lose weight. Back then, I was too proud to do so, and decided to quit ballet. And here is where everything started.

As I was resentful at the ballet institution for wanting me to lose weight, a Tuesday night after eating a lot of food, I looked at my toilet seat and decided to throw up. I threw everything out. Even nowadays I can remember the blood I puked that one night. But things haven’t been any better since then; I would even say they have gotten a lot worse.

After my second purge, I started to cut myself on my arms. I felt as if my life was a BIG mistake. My parents noticed, and said: "Is everything ok? Do you need more attention?" I told them that everything was OK, and stopped cutting, for a while. I started soon after to cut, but this time, hiding my cuts. And so I went on puking and cutting until I turned 16.

When I was 16, I had actually gained weight (and a lot of it). I weighed 186 pounds at 5'5. And a day at school some guys from the grade above were making a list of "the ugliest girls at school", I got number 3. They hang it in the hallway. I remember all my friends saying stuff like: "Ann u are not ugly! really!!" or "Ann u are not ugly! just a little chubby!!" But I won’t ever forget what it felt like to feel all of people’s stares, and pity. And that’s the day I started losing weight as a crazy: less than 4 months later I was 125 pounds (so I had lost over a 30% of my body weight in just a few months!).

Of course, my parents where thrilled (at first). They had been pressuring me to lose weight ever since my ballet school told me to do so. But when my nutritionist warned them about the excessive amount of weight I had lost (and which was abnormal for that short time period) they started to worry. I even passed out 2 times at school. All of this got my parents to threaten me to send me to an ED institution (even though I was not yet underweight). And again (just like it happened with my cutting habits) I told them it was OK, I would stop losing weight. But of course, I didn’t.

I hold on to that weight (with a few variations for a few months) but then, after a guy I REALLY liked left me for another one, I started losing weight again. I had gotten to 111 pounds in just a month. I remember my intense happiness the day I stepped on the scale to see "111" on the screen. I was 17 going on 18 by that time. And even though I know that intense happiness was wrong, I am almost sure it was the last time I felt really happy.

Now, I'm 19, I weigh almost 145, and have gotten back to my bulimic face. And even with all my ups and down with my weight, my parents don’t seem so concerned. Even with their "threats", they never did. I love my parents, but I wonder whether they haven’t realized during these last 7 years that there was something not right with me, or that they are just too afraid to see.

The worst part is: my dad works for this big worldwide company that fights hunger around the world, and I feel like such a hypocrite for wanting to starve/be thin. I have seen several undernourished kids with my own eyes, and even though I know it’s not healthy, I can’t stop to wish to be so thin that all you can see are bones and skin. I know it’s not right, but I can’t stop loving bones. I feel so tremendously guilty, and yet, I can’t stop. And the worst thing might be the fact that I have never admitted to anyone to have a problem but my best friend (who knows only a short part of the problem).

Many people have confronted me; I always deny it. And believe me when I say I know it’s wrong, but there is something with cutting, stop eating, binging, puking that I need. I would like to not have this, but I can’t stop. And even though I have had many things in life, I still am not happy. People keep on saying how pretty or beautiful I am, how well I've done stuff in my life, and all I do is to question myself to know why I’m still living.... I’m trapped in a hidden world; a part of me wants to get out of it, but another part of me feels like I can’t.

I used to think when I was 16 "this will pass, it’s only a teenager’s thing", but as I’m starting my 20th and many people tell me I act as a much older person, I’m starting to doubt about the end of this. I guess what I want to say is: I have been keeping inside me a huge secret, a secret that still has no ending...

I hope this message isn’t too long, I only want to get better, and I know the right way to do it is to start talking about it. This might be my first attempt to try and get better.

Thanks for your work,

Hugs to all,

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Monday, October 11, 2010


"I just want to say that your site means so much to me. I'm in recovery for an eating disorder and there has been many times where I wanted to (or did) fall back into old habit and sometimes just clicking on your site has helped to snap me out of it. It’s nice to know that amid all the pro-ana garbage out there that there’s at least one site that doesn't spew the myth that anorexia and bulimia will make us better people.

Here’s my story…

I had had issues food-wise almost my whole life but it didn't get bad until my sophomore year of college. I started off restricting. I'd put all the food I was allowed to eat into little Ziploc bags. The whole week’s worth probably only added up to 1000 calories.

I started going to the gym everyday for hours. I neglected schoolwork and friends (ugh, how I regret that now). I started the year off at 155, which isn't a bad weight for me since I'm quite tall at 5"8, but I felt like it wasn't good enough and so I pushed my body to lose weight.

I started purging and abusing laxatives. Anything and everything I ate was usually purged up. My friends knew something was up but I wouldn't admit anything, until one night I got drunk and ended up crying about how I had broken my fast.

I woke up the next day hoping they wouldn't remember what I'd said, but they did. They told me that unless I went to a counselor they would tell my family. I was pissed but I went. Unfortunately the counselor I went to was nice but inept at treating an eating disorder. I'd sit in her office and be asked the same questions over and over until I thought I would scream. But it kept my friends happy and so I went every week.

One night after having an emotional breakdown I called my mom and admitted to her what was going on, but the response I received was not at all what I expected. When I told her I had an e.d. she asked how that could be when I wasn't thin? I was devastated and redoubled my efforts to lose the weight I thought I needed to. (now I can see that my mom was just uneducated about what an e.d. looks like).

I ended the year at 127, but I still wasn't happy. I went home for the summer still dedicated to lose as much weight as I could. At the end of the summer I was down to 118 lbs and went back to school hoping for even more weight loss. I was miserable. I had wasted all summer exercising or purging or taking naps because I had no energy.

My grades were suffering too. I had been a 3.5 gpa student and now was at a 2.0. I was realizing that the e.d. was the reason I was miserable. I went back to the counselor and asked her to recommend someone who specialized in e.d.s. Luckily, there was a person near campus who could fit me in. I didn't really think she'd help but I wanted to at least see if it'd be worth my time to go. So I went and really didn't commit to recovery until a couple months in, when I was evaluated at an eating disorder treatment center and told that they wanted to admit me. My insurance wouldn't cover it though so I was left feeling like there was nothing I could do.

But there was. I could actually work with my therapist and TRY. It was such a simple concept and so I told her that I wanted to really try at recovery. It’s been hard, there are so many days where I just want to go back to the way things were, that feeling of numbness that my e.d. gave me, but that didn't solve anything, it just added to my stresses.

I have had days where I do fall back into old habits, but now it’s harder to justify those actions to myself, because I know that I do have a right to a healthy body."

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'M SO FAR BEHIND... replying to your e-mail and posting your stories. 

Work has been hectic since my return from holidays and I've been putting in a lot of overtime this week.  It looks like it won't be until this weekend that I'm able to deal with the backlog of e-mail from August, September & October and start posting your stories. I feel badly that I haven't had the time.

Please bear with me.  I'm just a little overwhelmed.

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