This I Believe

Emily - West Palm Beach, Florida
Entered on October 9, 2006

This I believe: Beauty can only be obtained from within. This was a hard learned lesson as a maturing young girl. The hardest part of my mornings wasn’t waking up or picking out what to wear, it was looking in the mirror: that slim sheet of glass that encompassed the power of reflection. I would look in that mirror everyday and examine every wrong thing about myself. Located near that judgmental glass piece was an even more feared object. How a 13 x 9 item could be so terrifying to a young girl, I’m not sure. But that didn’t change the fact that this thin, metal scale held the answer to my biggest fear. I had grown accustom to the ugly, black letters that would be staring at me morning after morning. Nonetheless, getting acclimatized to those repetitive numbers didn’t change the impact it had on my young ego.

In a society where image is the most important factor, there’s no easy way to grow up. The girls with the skinny hips and long legs are anything but helpful in a middle school setting. That on top of trying to fit into a new environment causes a lot or turmoil. I can’t explain in words the changes that come over you when you can not deal with your body. Something triggered in my 5 foot, 100 pound body that I couldn’t push out of my head. As a result, that thin metal 13 x 9 item became an obsession. And those crispy potato chips and ice cream became off limits. After dropping 20 pounds in a course of 2 months I had never experienced such an elated feeling. In counterpoint, seeing wet, round tears pour down your mothers face was the most horrible feeling possible. My life long physician was put on the phone one day while I was in the car with my mother. Dr. Jane started talking to my mother about what needed to be done. I gripped that cloth seatbelt and looked at my mother with terrified eyes. I could not fathom what was happening in my life. My mother could not get the words out, but those pained tears said enough. I was being brought to my doctor immediately; I was unhealthy and had reached the point of being out of control. Explain that to a girl who was positive she finally had it all worked out. I sobbed. For hours and hours on end, I couldn’t talk to anybody, I couldn’t move, and I definitely couldn’t eat. After meeting with my doctor I was informed that I would be meeting with a psychiatrist once a week along with a nutritionist once and week and I would be seeing Dr. Jane twice a week for weigh-ins. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. This is basically an eating disorder in which a person becomes so obsessed with their weight that they reach an out of control point and need professional help. That was the next step to this long recovery process.

A psychiatrist office was nothing like I pictured it. There was no long couch to sprawl out on, there was no clipboard and paper, and there was no judgmental superior staring at me through spectacles. It took me a long while to realize that Dr. Pape was extremely helpful to me. She was someone I could talk to at a time when there was absolutely no one to turn to. She could bride the gap between my mother and me. I grew comfortable in those leather chairs. The cold air became a setting I was fond of. When there’s a friendly environment, kids latch on, especially when it’s all they have. My nutritionist’s office had a very different feel to it. I’m not sure I ever felt like it was useful to take the strenuous drive to Boca every Saturday morning. Christie was a wonderful lady, very calm and well spoken, and obviously another person to substitute as a friend. She walked me through day by day diet plans and made me keep logs of every item I ate. It got exhausting, but like everything else that came with the situation: it became routine.

Three hundred and sixty five days of rough, exhausting routine made up a year of my middle school career. It’s not an experience I look at as negative and emotionally draining. I look at it as a growing experience more than anything else. I learned a lot about myself in that period. I grew from a girl to a woman earlier than everyone else. Would I do it again if I could go back? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t change the fact that I accept that situation as making me who I am, and I am thankful for that.