Anorexia Presented by Rebecca Lemke
CC image courtesy of Flickr, Лапо.
Editorial Note: This presentation originally appeared in The Neighborhood’s 2016 Mental Health Week. Homeschoolers Anonymous has received permission to reprint the article in its entirety. The entire series can be viewed at thepublicblogger.com
Content Warning: Contains descriptions of eating disorders.
by Rebecca Lemke, New Crunchy Mom
A lot of people think anorexia develops out of a desire to be thin. They think that the quest to become skinny overtakes the mind and self-control is lost. For some people, that is true. But for others, anorexia digs deep into the mind and plants roots for reasons you would never think of, eventually growing to the surface and taking hold.
For me, it is the latter.
The details of the disorder of my mind are fussy to many, the whens and whys have escaped the knowledge of friends and family for a long time. My mother would tell you that it all began during a conversation at a summer camp I attended. She would say that the girls comparing height and weight upset me, because I weighed the same as a much thinner and taller girl. This isn’t true.
I never worried about my weight as a child, I was naturally pretty thin up until junior high. It is a bit surprising to me because I always heard comments about weight, they were usually self-deprecating comments made by friends or family. Perhaps my subconscious picked up on them, but I never actively paid any attention to my weight, or conversations about weight, at that age.
My best friend might tell you when she began to suspect something was wrong, and my cousins would tell you they knew by the time I lost a few pounds. No matter how many people noticed, not one could tell you the exact moment anorexia took over, or why.
But I can.
The compounding factors led to a pressure cooker of mental instability and one conclusion…
No matter how hard I fought, my body was not my own.
I had no privacy when it came to my body, what I wore was dictated to me in the form of “don’ts” and when I said “no” it held no weight. The weight of things like whether or not I had sex and when being public information and what I wore potentially making or breaking a man’s spiritual walk were heavy burdens for me to bear.
I couldn’t expect respect or privacy, I couldn’t control my clothing, and I certainly couldn’t control who did and didn’t touch me.
There was one thing I could control: food.
Anorexia, at least in the beginning, was not about being thin or skinny. It was a desperate lunge for control over my life and my body. It was a plea for space, for someone to listen to me and to make the madness that surrounded me cease. It was safe, something I could do without fear of being used, manipulated, or hurting others.
At first, it wasn’t so bad. I lost a few pounds and felt a rush of freedom. Finally, I had control. Even if no one else would listen to me, my body would. I kept going, losing more and more weight until I found myself growing white fuzzy hair all over my body and chilling constantly.
“Just a little more!” I thought to myself. Then I would be done, and I would be happy.
I learned that you can simultaneously have both too much and not enough self-control. I began experiencing shortness of breath and strange heartbeats, but that didn’t stop me.
I didn’t stop until my body physically stopped me. I began passing out and was no longer able to hide the fact that my bones were showing in places they shouldn’t. I gained just enough weight back to be uncomfortable, but safe from prying eyes.
The symptoms eventually subsided after I removed myself from being taught that my body was there for everyone else to use and dictate things to. My husband nursed me back to health one raisin at a time and I began counseling as well. The journey to recovery has been difficult because of how many things influenced my anorexia, but the choice to get well is my own, along with the loving support of my husband.