Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Elis and her Aunt when Elis first arrived in Ecuador
"Hello Medusa. I just want to start off by saying that thank God for people like you. You have made my treacherous recovery process easier for me.
My name is Elis and I am 17 years old. I don't want to say that I'm different from the rest of the girls with an eating disorder, because EVERYONE is different and just because someone falls into an eating disorder, does not mean that they are exactly the same person, because just like in every other case of anything, everyone is different. Of course, I share a common sense of knowledge and certain aspects with my fellow eating disorder sisters, but that does not mean that we are all the same person. So here's my story.
I guess you could say I always had weight problems. Ever since I was little girl, I was a little bit on the heavier side, but it never got to the point where you could say that I was obese. I still remember being in the fourth grade, when I wasn't even that chubby, and being made fun of on numerous occasions. I would go home and cry, too ashamed to go to someone.
All of my friends were thin, my mother was a fitness instructor, and my sister, well let's just say that she had and still has the body of a goddess, without even trying. Now that I think about it, I really should have gone to my mother or sister, because they would have been nothing but supportive, but I was just too ashamed.
The taunting wore off for a while, just an occasional asshole would say a slur, but I wouldn't really let it get to me. I loved food, but by no means would I ever binge, I just made wrong food choices when it came time to eat.
Freshman year of High school was a breakthrough for me. I had a mind set that I NEEDED to lose weight because I had weighed myself, and realized that I weighed 148 lbs. I was only 5'3, and my mother, who had 4 children and was 4 inches taller than me, weighed less. I NEEDED TO LOSE weight. So I began surely, but slowly. I started to eat less, choosing a salad with some form of protein instead of a Fried chicken sandwich. I also began to run. I eventually started to take off more and more calories. I eventually got down to eating 110 calories a day for a span of 1 month. I spiraled down to 114 lbs, and everyone said I looked great! I was SO satisfied with myself, but there was one thing I was sure of; I was HUNGRY!
So I began to chew and spit. I would eat food, mainly breads and carbs and chew them up, and spit them into a napkin. I would spend hours on end doing this. I would ''eat'' so much that my jaw began to hurt. And of course, I had the occasional slip up and would swallow food, of course, I would end up throwing it up. My passion is still to become a chef, and at the time I would cook up a storm and just chew and spit all day.
I remember one day, during the Summer going into Jr. year, I decided that I didn't want to spit something out. So I bought a french baguette and spread mayo all over it. I ate the WHOLE thing. I don't even like mayo! I work at a supermarket, and I had closed that day, so all of this occurred in the late hours of the night, early hours of the morning. I tried to throw it back up, but I couldn't. It wouldn't come back up. I was so FRUSTRATED! The self hate I endured was unbearable, I began to cry on the bathroom floor, and I hated myself for having allowed myself to gain most of my weight back. The words of some people haunted my thoughts ''Wow, you've gained weight.'' or ''Oh, I remember when you WERE skinny..''I lost a few pounds and was ready for Junior year. I had this in the bag.
The first couple of months were ''normal''. Chew and spit was part of my everyday habit. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn't eat normal, no matter how much I wanted to, I just didn't have it in me. I couldn't tell anyone that I had an eating disorder, I wasn't ''thin enough.'' I hated myself. I was obsessed with the thought of death, that's all I wanted. And I hated myself for thinking like this.
I had everything I wanted. My parents were still together, nothing had ever happened to me in my past, I had friends and family who loved me and supported me in every way possible, but I just hated myself. And I hated myself even more for hating myself. It was a never ending spiral into the depths of hell. So, instead of ending my eating disorder, I just grasped onto Ana more than ever.
I began to limit myself to 40 calories a day, and soon got down to 20 calories a day. I developed very strange OCDs and would run up and down the stairs numerous times in day for no reason whatsoever. I spiraled down to 102 lbs in less than a month. I would get called down to the office at school on numerous occasions. I would deny everything. I would say that everything was okay and blamed the weight loss on ''stress.''
I isolated myself from every single one of my many friends. My life was school, work, running, and me planning out my meal plans. That was all, and all I ever wanted. I was a skeleton. The stares in the hallways showed fear in complete strangers eyes. Every comment such as ''Why are you so thin?'' or "Your arms look like twigs!'' would just feed my eating disorder even more. The worse I looked to people, the happier I made Ana.
On March of 2010, I was sent for Spring break to my hometown of Ecuador. I was so excited, but at the same time concerned that I would lose control of my food. When I arrived, the look in my Grandfather's, aunt's, and older brother's face, made me want to cry. For the first time, I did not feel good about people's concerned eyes. I felt horrible. The look of fear was unbearable. Everyone was so concerned.
About 5 days into my vacation, I went to go visit my mom's cousin. Janine had once suffered from Anorexia as well. When she saw me, she played it off well, but I could see right through her. I knew she was very concerned. The next day, I went to a check-up (our insurance in the States had fallen through, and anything medical related is 10x cheaper in Ecuador). I was down to 90 lbs, at 5'4. I had a BMI of 16.0. The next day, my older brother told me we were going to another doctor. I believed him. When we arrived I saw a building. Standing outside were my grandfather and Janine. Above them read a sign that said ''The Center.'' I already knew what was coming.
I walked into the house-looking facility, not knowing what to expect. I was ambushed by people that I had never seen before, telling me that everything was going to be okay. I broke down. I was crying with no end. How could my parents tell me that I was going away for vacation when THIS was their intention?! I was furious, I was confused, I felt betrayed. But most of all, I was terrified. I knew that I would have to confront something that I lived with everyday. I would have to look it dead in the eye, something I had never done before. I was living with something that controlled my life, my every move, but I chose to pretend like it wasn't there, as if it were a ghost. I was terrified. I soon came to learn that my parents intention was not to send me off to get help, but when they discovered that I would be getting help, thanks to Janine, they couldn't disagree.
Recovery was brutal at first. I would cry in every therapy session. I was so stubborn. I soon grew to LOVE my nutritionist, Talia, and my therapist, Gaby. They did not try to force anything into my brain that I wasn't yet willing to accept. I grew to absolutely LOVE the other girls, they helped me not feel so alone. We all shared a common sense of loneliness, but when were together, those feelings disappeared.
Actually, one of the girls has written here, and her story was published, her name is May, and I am the one who sent the poem to her. We all grew so close together it was amazing. They made my recovery so much easier. I even got a tattoo with Romy, one of my best friends from The Center. She accompanied me while I got ''Dum Vita est, spes es'' tatted on my back. Next to it is the eating disorder awareness symbol. Its translation is ''While there's life, there's hope.''
My family literally saved me. If it weren't for them, then I don't know what I would have done. My mother came to a different country, leaving her job and family, for 3 months just to support me. Janine, well I have no words to say what she means to me. She literally saved my life, if it weren't for her, I don't know where I would be right now.
My aunt opened her doors for me the last 2 months that I was in Ecuador, despite my rebellion to stay with her. My older sister is amazing. She helped pay a lot of my recovery and was always so loving and supporting, despite how difficult it was for her to understand my eating disorder. My father and younger brother was also supportive every way possible, I love them to death! My grandfather was supportive in every way possible, financially, emotionally. He was my right hand man the whole 6 months.
And last but not least my older brother, oh my older brother. I can honestly say that every time I think of him, I tear up. Him and I have had such a strong bond ever since I was born, despite the 13 year age difference. He allowed me to stay in his home for the first 4 months that I was there, and would have loved to have me stay in his home the whole time, but that could not be possible. I love him more than anyone else in this world.
A trigger for me to go home was when I realized that I was missing out on life. This eating disorder had consumed my whole high school life and I refused to let in take over my senior year. Everyone's facebook status was about going into senior year. I was desperate to go home. Soon enough, 1 month into school, I came back to Florida. Saying goodbye was the among the most difficult things that I had ever had to do. I had grown to love my family in Ecuador more than words could describe. I didn't think that was possible, but I was proven wrong.
I have now been back for about 4 months, and I can honestly say that I still feel a hole inside of me. One hole being those loved ones of mine in Ecuador, and the other hole being that inner battle. I still don't love myself, and at times, I can say that I hate myself. But I can come to terms with myself.
I don't know if I'll ever come to terms with my body, nor food, but right now I feel that I'm at the point where I can accept myself, just for who I am. I am an aspiring nutritionist, to help others, and to help myself. I hope my story will help someone over come their eating disorder in some way. Just love yourself."
For more information on the dangers of chewing and spitting, please click this link:
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