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 fiancĂ© 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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