Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Secret

Little girls dream of becoming ballerinas, mothers, teachers when they grow up. They never dream of becoming someone who has to fight an eating disorder. But that is exactly what happened to me.

I weighed 145 pounds when I moved into Cloudman dorm in the Fall of 2000. I was a happy, healthy, 18 year old, who was more than eager to begin the next chapter of her life. Within weeks, I had a core group of friends and a very active social life. However, it seemed that my social life had a very strong tie to food. Every club meeting served some form of grease. For the Technique is was pizza, for APO it usual involved a Waffle House run, Reck Club socials included an expanse of food (and alcohol). This isn't to mention, the Papa John's parties in Sarah's room every Thursday night, or the case of cokes Kim and I would finish off in just 2 short days. I began batgirling in the spring of 2001, and once again, more free food. Cokes between innings, candy bars during rain delays. It was no surprise then that by the end of my freshman year, I weighed 180 pounds. I had gained the "freshman 15" and then some.

Sophomore year came, and I moved into Woodruff North. The move placed me closer to the Student Athletic Complex, and as a result the motivation to work out was born. Every morning (and a lot of afternoons) you could find me sweating away on one of the cardio machines. By fall break, I had dropped 20 pounds. Then came the fateful trip to GNC. One afternoon, in an attempt to alleviate boredom, I went shopping. I found myself in a GNC store buying a bottle of "Diet Fuel". I took the first bottle, and the weight seemed to melt away, so I bought a second bottle. Everyone began to complete the weight loss. Spurred on by their sentiments, I upped the workouts to 3 times a day, and added a started my 3rd bottle of diet fuel. Soon, I was restricting my diet to green beans and chicken breasts. For the occasional splurge, I would eat a Lean Pocket. As summer approached, I was tipping the scales at just a meager 123 pounds, the tiniest I had been since high school. I still saw myself as overweight and out of shape. What had started as a seemingly innocent thing had mutated into something more sinister. And it was about to get a whole lot worse.

Junior year brought a lot of exciting changes to my life - a new apartment, a new boyfriend, a new job. However, each of those changes brought an additional amount of stress. Within weeks of the semester's start, I found my schedule so jammed that I had no time to make it to the gym. I compensated by taking a few extra Metabolifes, my new diet pill of choice.
My schedule did not permit much time for a healthy diet either, so I soon began to live off of candy bars and diet cokes. Having a boyfriend meant dates, usually dinner at a restaurant - appetizer, main course, and of course, dessert. The needle on my scale began to creep upward, so I added a few more pills to my daily routine. The recommended guidelines were 1 pill before each meal, I was taking 3.
As the year went on, things went from bad to worse. Working for the women's basketball team had become unbearable - but rather than quit, I kept going back, adding more stress to my already overloaded cart. My "picture-perfect" relationship started to look less than - John couldn't decide if he wanted me for his girlfriend or not. And even when he did, he made hurtful comments - I’ll never forget the night he told me I was average. I should have ended things with him, instead I assumed the problems were due to the weight I had gained (I was up to 145 again), and so I began to experiment with bulimia, all the while upping my daily doses of Metabolife.

Life at home wasn't any better. Metabolife had the pleasant side effect of giving me more energy, but the nasty effect of swinging my moods sporadically. I began to drive Kim D. insane. She realized that my sporadic behavior was linked to the diet pills, but when she tried to help me, I snarled at her like a caged dog - so she did the only thing she could do - she backed away.
To cope with it all, I began taking more and more Metabolife - it gave me the illusion that I could do anything, handle any situation. And for awhile I did. But by April, I was spiraling downward at a rapid rate. I was subsisting on a diet of water, grapes, and Metabolife. My experiments with bulimia were now full-blown. I had begun to blackout, once while driving to campus. I had developed a serious case of depression.

It all culminated in a thwarted suicide attempt. I was sitting on my couch, bottle of Tylenol P.M.s in hand, thinking "Maybe I should take the whole bottle". Obviously, I didn't - only because John stopped me. A few days later, the semester ended, and I moved from Atlanta to Tifton for the summer - and to repair my shattered life.

I try not to think about those days too often - too many painful memories, too many regrets, too much terror. However, I do possess one memento from that dark time in my life. In my top dresser drawer there is an empty Metabolife bottle. It serves as a reminder of the battle that I fought - and that I won. Now, when life seems overwhelming, and I think "I can't handle this" - I open that drawer and remind myself just how far I've traveled, how much I've overcame, and then I tackle the task ahead of me.


By the Sea said...

I never knew this story. It's one more example of how things are never quite as they seem, and that we never know what burdens we each carry. It also puts into a new light some of the details of your relationship with Kim D. in that time.