Anorexia and my story.
I don’t often talk about my long battle with anorexia but I do talk about it if it helps other people. Because this week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I will open up about my experiences with it for the first time as a blog entry.
This all starts for me in September 2010. I was close to a year and a half into cycling and had lost over 100 pounds through fitness and proper dieting. But.. I wanted more. I wanted total control and it would be something I would get in the worst way.
Later that Fall, I started dieting a lot differently. I went from eating things that were very satisfying and dense enough to support my active lifestyle to things low in calories and I would still be hungry but at least I had total control of my body and that’s what I wanted.
Things would start to come crashing down a month later.
It was the middle of October. I was out on the bike like any other day, but I started feeling very lightheaded and not well. I cut the ride short. I had started to become weak to the point I could no longer ride a bicycle. I would put my bicycle in storage and continue my low calorie diet. I would continue eating that way all Winter. That incident was the first occurance of anorexia showing itself and making life more difficult.
Fast forwarding to March 2011, I was still dieting the same way and had lost over 25 pounds over the a five month period. I weighed somewhere in the mid-130s. I would make an attempt for a cycling comeback, and I would get one. I would have to do less miles though because I was still very weak. It was also around this time that I would be contacted by the guidance department at school and having them tell me that someone was concerned about the weight I had lost and for the most part tried to force it out of me and admit that I had an eating disorder. I constantly denied it. However, I felt ashamed of those meetings and went further into denial and got a lot worse. I was asked to keep a food journal and submit it to guidance. I completely made it up so they’d leave me alone.. and they did.
It was then the first week in June 2011 and senior pictures were getting taken. I weighed myself the morning of pictures and it read 128. I was so excited I got below 130. The pictures were taken for the following year’s yearbook. I’m not as tan as previous pictures which is unusual for me because I tan very easily with minimal sun exposure. The pictures look awful. To this day, I ask nicely for my family not to display those pictures because of how bad they look. I would only get worse looking in the next six weeks.
It was somewhere in mid-June. My thick hair was thinning quickly and falling out in bunches. I would have to get a buzz cut and keep it very short because it was getting so bad.
I would continue to get worse. And then it happened. On July 19, I blacked out during my cycling session and got severely hurt. I had become very weak and frail at 115 pounds.
It was that day that I had to admit that I had a problem and really needed help. I would see a doctor a day or two later and I would get admitted for treatment on the spot. I got treatment for three weeks and it was where the 4,000 calorie diet that I would use for four years was drafted out. I wouldn’t go to it right away as I would have to get myself to 1,000 calories, then 1,500 calories, then 2,000 calories and so on.
I had gained close to ten pounds in those three weeks and I wanted to go riding again. I had talked about it and I was told I could do it but only if I limited it to ten miles or less. I did that for about a month and a half until I tried to do too many miles too quickly in the process and it messed me up to the point I had difficulty riding.
On October 1, I would stop riding for two and a half months and would return Christmas week. In those two and a half months, I would work myself up to those 4,000 calories and gained 20 pounds. I was ready to go back to cycling full time and have not missed more than a week consecutively since that time.
I would spend the next year recovering and attending very small meetings openly talking about the disorder as a whole. I was the only guy at those meeting most of the time. If I wasn’t, there would be another guy who was much older than myself. Those meetings have allowed me to be very open about the experiences and the recovery of anorexia. I’ve been very open about all of it with my friends over the years. It’s important for me to talk about it because I understand the consequences of trying to be so thin to the point it almost kills you but at the same time, I’m a guy who has lived with and survived an eating disorder and being able to give that different perspective has proven to be helpful as well as helped people find their paths to recovery.
To this day, I do not feel completely recovered despite all of this starting over six years ago. While I try my best to keep my calories up, cycling my daily 42 miles makes it a little difficult to maintain myself but I do the best I can. I do weigh the most I have since before the eating disorder started. The only problem with that is that all my weight is in my lower half because of all the riding over the years (my thighs alone are over 24 inches around and are rock hard and a majority of my weight is found there). I have a very small upper body for a grown adult that stands approximately six foot tall.
There’s also been some other things that have never been the same since the disorder:
– I sometimes have difficulty eating in front of people. This is a problem I’ve had since I was a junior in high school. It’s because I feel like people are judging what I’m eating. This has gotten a lot better than it used to be and I am starting to eat around friends more. Years later, I still have to remember that a drink is not a meal.
– My hair has never grown back exactly the same. It doesn’t have the thickness it once did and is also not as straight as it was at one time. When my hair grows longer, I grow some curls now. My hair also got a lot lighter after I buzzed it off. My black hair became hazel and has stayed that way ever since.
– I’ve always had an unproportional upper body compared to my lower body since the disorder took over. It almost looks like someone put G.I. Joe’s legs on Ken’s body.
I try to maintain my openness and truthfulness about my experiences with anorexia. It’s far from a secret in my circles of friends. I keep it that way intentionally because I feel that seeing what happened to me is a lesson that shouldn’t be repeated. I have pictures taken of me during that time frame but I hate looking at them because I remember all those difficulties I had and the stares I got from strangers who knew I had something wrong with me before I came to terms with it.