A Childhood Aspiration
I find it interesting to compare where people end up in life, with what they aspired to become as children.
- Neil Armstrong wanted to be a pilot; little did he know the heights his aspiration would take him to.
- George Washington wanted to be a soldier. I’m sure he was unaware of the great extent he would end up serving our country in.
- My sister wanted to be a painter of purple wheels. Yes—she had a great ambition to paint every wheel on this planet the color purple. She is now a wonderful wife and mother, and runs a very successful small business out of her home. She wears a lot of purple.
When I was young, I aspired to be thin.
A Disease Disguised by Disease
Often times anorexia comes in the wake of illness; this was my case. At age fourteen I lost 30 pounds before being diagnosed with an auto-immune deficiency known as Addisons disease. This chronic illness characterizes itself with weight loss, and ultimately the inability of one’s body to retain fat.
Being the chubby child growing up, this drop in weight made me feel good; I liked what I saw. I could finally wear the stylish clothes, which meant a whole lot to a middle school girl.
My illness also set the stage for a perfect lie—a perfect cover-up story. I recall one morning at church when one of my youth leaders cautiously approached my mom, mentioning my weight loss. I remember an exchange revolving around my Addisons disease. I was covered, no worries. Addisons was the perfect cloak for anorexia.
The Power of a Secret
My anorexia was not your typical scene centered around a dinner table, characterized by a drama of defiance– a young girl refusing yet another meal, pleading parents, and confused eyes from her siblings.
Neither did my story take place in a hospital setting. There were no visions of gaunt women sitting in stark white dining halls, picking at their food with forks, only to take a pain-staking bite or two. There was no line of frail, angry, confused anorexics in hospital gowns, waiting to face the scale for a daily weigh-in.
No, my story is one perhaps more prevalent yet less noticed in the realm of eating disorders. It’s the story of those suffering a silent battle, the silence itself holding them captive. My struggle was one which thrived on secrecy. In secrets lie great power.
Anorexia Cannot Be Measured In Numbers
Anorexia cannot be measured in numbers. A BMI less than 17.5 in an individual is a common physical feature of someone with anorexia. The lowest my BMI ever dropped to was 19.5. Could it be argued, then, that I wasn’t really anorexic?
Neither a BMI calculator nor a scale can diagnose anorexia, for anorexia is a disease of the mind. It is an attitude of the heart, one which drives a person to exhibit certain patterns, habits, and rituals surrounding food.
I spent three years in the prison of my own mind; captive to a menacing drive inside, a relentless tauntor of my soul, spewing lies into my heart and being. Anorexia slowly chipped away at both my body and soul.
Anorexia Begins With An Experiment
Anorexia begins with an experiment. One successfully skipped meal leads to an entire day of skipped meals. The thrill of it all is enough to drive one on to new heights to see just how much starvation they can get away with.
The implications of this thrill, however, are not only physical. After some time, I began to feel guilt within me. There was a pressure in my soul, telling me that I must choose, at some point, if this is truly what I would be. I knew there was a time approaching requiring a decision to be made.
I could live a lie of anorexia, giving myself fully to this monster I had embraced, or I could turn back. I knew in my spirit that I had to turn back. As much as I desired to press on, to experiment further, to stay skinny, I knew I could not let this kill me, or ruin my life.
I would soon realize, however, that I had already passed the point of being able to turn back by my own efforts. I was too far stuck.
Dreading the Inevitable
I had not yet accepted the fact that in order to heal, I would have to relinquish my secret. I dreaded what I knew deep down was inevitable. I would have to admit to what I had successfully become.
What made the task all that more daunting was just how well I had hid my struggle with anorexia. I feared how this would affect those near to me. I feared their responses, knowing I had deceived them for so long. This confession was the one thing which held me back from setting foot on a road to recovery. I was so afraid, yet only the truth could slay the power of my secret.
This Is My Story
This is part one of a 3-part series telling my story of how I overcame anorexia. Read more about my family’s journey to health on my blog, From Famine to Foodie, at www.erynlynum.com
You can view the whole series here.
- My Battle With Anorexia, Part 1 ~ A Disease That Thrives On Secrets
- My Battle With Anorexia, Part 2 ~ Relinquishing My Secret
- My Battle With Anorexia, Part 3 ~ Moving From Fear To Passion
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you!
About Eryn Lynum
Eryn Lynum is the author of the book 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and four children, where they spend their time hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches, and writers’ groups. But every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family, and sharing the journey at www.936Pennies.com
Great post, Eryn! I can relate in a way as I too had an eating disorder. It wasn’t anorexia or bulimia, but mentally I was consumed with my weight and yo-yoed from one diet to the next. It stole my joy for my high school years. I am so thankful to be passed that now, and that God protected me from doing anything too harmful to myself.