The "A" Word
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
I’m a person with anorexia nervosa, or I was a person with anorexia nervosa, or as my dietician suggested, I’m a person recovering from anorexia nervosa. I'm trying to figure out what feels right as it rolls off my tongue. The word still feels awkward, like the new sports bra I bought online. It fits but I still need to break it in.
October 2016 the day I finally admitted to being an anorexic to someone other than myself, my husband, and my treatment team. I was so nervous. The heart pounding, sweat inducing, I can’t do this kind of nervous. The admission was to my two teenaged sons who were twelve and fifteen at the time. My therapist, Kirsten, encouraged me to be forthcoming with them about my disease so that they might gain some insight as to what the recovery process might mean for our family, (not to mention bring some relief that their bony, anxious, jittery mother might chill out). I sat there in Kirsten’s office, my youngest, Brennan, sitting close to me on the couch while my oldest son Dylan sat, with a glare only a teenager can emit, from the chair across from me. Apparently, this therapy session was cutting into his “hang out” time.
“So, you guys”, I began, still not certain the “A” word was going to make it out of my mouth, “I wanted to let you know that I have decided to go into treatment for an eating disorder, specifically, anorexia.”
There I said it! Feeling a mix of relief washing over my body. I took a deep breath and felt my muscles relax. The secret I had been hiding, (although not very well I would later realize) was out. But the relief was short lived and moments later I was engulfed by a sudden fear that, thanks to teenagers and social media, my anorexia might be all over Instagram by the time we left the office. I wasn’t ready.
“What?” Dylan shouted, “Mom you cannot have anorexia! That is a teenage girl THING.” The intensity in his voice made even Kirsten flinch a little.
I know, right?! I thought to myself. Dylan’s words hit right to the core of my own beliefs about the disease. A belief that kept me safe for years from having to admit I suffered from this “teenage thing”. Back before anorexia took hold of me, no one more than I was intrigued by a Lifetime movie about a bony teenager running fifteen miles only to come home and pretend to eat a sandwich prepared by her mom, but instead hiding it under her bed until she could throw it out later. I couldn’t wrap my head around how someone could let herself be so thin, so sneaky, so scared, so….. sick. How could someone let that happen?
But it happened. To me.
So here I am, wanting to share my journey, not only for my own healing but who knows, my story might resonate with someone, make them feel a little less crazy ( and man the disease can make you feel certifiable!) If one thing has gotten me through the past two and a half years it has been learning from others and the reassurance that I am not alone.