7/09/2009

A Transformation

I'm thinking I should have began my blog with this kind of post a long time ago, to give a better example of who I am before I began to drabble on about my life. I think that the absence of this type of post is what kept me from posting for so long.

The inspiration? Modcloth's "The Terrific Transformation's Contest"-- I thought, Well heck- why not?

I am currently in the middle of a fun and rather productive summer before senior year of high school. GROSS HIGH SCHOOL. But hey, I cannot say that I have walked away empty handed, nosiree! During the final semester of junior year, I took a public speaking class. By the end of the year we were all warmed up to each other so our final was to write and orate an inspirational speech or a euology. I took hold of both options and weighed them out by writing two separate speeches, but I couldn't find myself connecting with them and feeling as sincere as I wanted to sound. So (but with all due respect)... I scratched them out.

I'll always remember my first three years of high school being plagued by Anorexia, an eating disorder that I had recovered from physically, but hardly mentally. She was, however, waning and it was at the computer that it dawned on me to take the opportunity to write and give a final farewell to her. Almost like eulogizing "Ana".

I'll begin:

I met Ana in the summer of 2005. It followed an event that set up the circumstances to birth her, her real name being Anorexia. This instance was a combination of things so normal, so constant, so common… that it’s a surprise that my brain was able to conjure up this entity. This was a combination of a myriad of teenage issues and coping with the handicap of my father.

I controlled a sector of my life that should never be obsessed about by any young person, let alone human being-- but I, in fact, was. This was the constant need to exercise, to keep moving, to feel adequate, to never exceed one-thousand calories a day, to obsessively add up all the meals I ate to ideally find that number awaiting me. This was a summer that tore me apart from my friendships, from my sense of self, my love for music, and most of all, my happiness.

Although Ana sounds dreadful now, she was really, at the time, my best friend. We would surf the internet together (standing up to burn more calories and without a computer chair), to look up tips for ways to get more steps into our days and be “healthy”. We would throw fits if some social or family event would present itself to inevitably disrupt our rigid eating patterns and throw us a curve ball by not knowing what would be on the menu.

After failing to fulfill my doctor’s mid-summer assigned goal to gain five pounds, Ana and I were forced to listen to my physician tell me how my body mass index was too low, and that she was assigning me to a nutritionist and a therapist. Upon hearing this news I was in great denial, scoffing at the thought of ever needing to gain weight, constantly saying I liked how my body looked, and looking at my parents as if to say, “Step off, this is how it’s gonna be.” My parents would not hear of it. If I remember well, or at all, for the next school year, eighth grade, it was a blur of doctor’s appointments, teachers getting upset with my missing class, tears, group sessions, slapping a fake smile on, and snatching up the next distraction that would present itself, be it a friend or even homework. I had to go through the awkward stage of making friends again (for I had lost all of mine due to Ana). If that was not enough, once my friendships were established, Ana kept pulling and pulling ever so hard. Life continued to push me into dark, cavernous pits that refused to let the sun in, making me choose a day sequestered at home rather than leaving my safe zone and joining my friends for shopping and lunch downtown. She kept sending off the wrong message to my new found friends.

I remember her and I-- we cried the hardest I ever had in my life-- together. We felt the most hopeless together. We felt so out of control together. When our nutritionist prescribed my parents to make me drink a shake of their creation ever night before bed, I was hysterical at the thought of forfeiting my control-- hearing the sound of the blender made my insides coil. However, the goal was to gain weight enough to be considered healthy. After all, the sad truth was that I had hit 75 pounds at five feet, five inches and my growth had been stunted, including my brain’s development (according to my psychologist). And although the goal of gaining 40 pounds back seemed so far gone, so hopeless, and so… so STUPID (says Ana), I had to push through. And I guess I made it somewhat unscathed. I realized the need to when my blood pressure was too low for participation in gym class, and it hurt to sit in a chair .When winter was unbelievable cold as was my body all the time. I essentially had lost all the control I had gained when I met this goal.

For the next three years Ana and I began to drift apart, but not without a fight from her. I relapsed many times, losing weight, gaining weight, losing friends, finding them again. She was, in a sense, the friend you didn’t want to part with but knew you had to otherwise you both would get into trouble with the cops… Hell, I still visit her from time to time these days.

The pinnacle of our separation was during last summer. Not preferring another summer of 2005, I was enrolled in an Early College Program at the Art Institute of Chicago. This three week course took place in downtown Chicago and my focus was on photography. I had dabbled in the practice here and there throughout my years of fighting with Ana but for those three weeks I was able to finally separate myself from her in a town with other kids who were there to escape the hustle and bustle of their lives as well, and to focus ONLY on the one thing that truly made life worth living, Art. Not only was Ana some 400 miles away but she was also replaced by friendships that are still in tact today. Although the path has been rough since the summer it has been smoother since before I disposed of Ana.
Conclusion

So Ana. It’s been quite a ride, but I don’t think this can continue. I can’t say that I am happy to have e met you, but you’ve left me with a lesson I will never forget. I hope that you cease to prey upon others as vulnerable as I use to be. For the sake of my health, the sake of my sanity… this is goodbye.

It took a mere five minutes to give the speech and only five minutes to vanquish a side of me that had held me back for so long. This was, truly, a transformation to help me kick off my summer and maybe even my life.

I have been able to truly enjoy all the things that "normal" people do now, without her looming over my shoulder. Friends, food, family, music, art-- it's all in abundance.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

6 comments:

  1. Tia- you are amazing. I would never have the courage to read that in front of people, let alone a class. Your recovery has been incredible and I feel very priveleged to see parts of it. You are an amazing young woman with so much life in front of you and I know that you can now make the most of it. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me to remember why I strive to seperate myself from Ana every day. Take care of yourself- keep writing, taking photos, and sharing all of your gifts.

    Liz

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  2. Meaningful, touching and very well written. I voted for you. Best of luck and congratulations on your transformation!

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  3. I voted for you too! As a student that just finished Speech 1A last semester I'm so impressed with your creativity & honesty. Good luck in your Battle with Ana!

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  4. I wanted to thank you for posting this. I read it last night. I also used to have eating problems, which I more or less kicked nearly two years ago. Of course it's still hard--I have problems eating with other people and almost always eat breakfast and lunch by myself unless we're out.
    But tonight my mother had made a chocolate cake. I was going to save it for later and eat it by myself--that's what I usually do with dessert. But I have been thinking about your entry all day, and I realized I was still holding onto that awful time that I thought was gone. When I actually acknowledged that it was still a problem, I hesitated--but then I stopped myself. I ate the cake with my family, and I ate it slowly and tasted and and enjoyed it like I haven't done in a very, very long time. And I feel that I finally let some more go. So thanks so much. You were brave to post this for all the world to see, and it definitely made a difference for me.

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  5. absolutely inspiring! this is an outstanding transformation, congratulations!

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  6. Hi there, I was the other nominee "Shar". I just found out that we won. Congrats to you! If I knew earlier there was a voting taking place, I would have voted for you but I'm glad you won the first prize! You are an inspiration to so many young women out there. I work with high school girls and I see the struggles they go through with their body image. I wish you all the best and stay beautiful ^_^

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with each bite it lingers...