Body Image: The Numbers of an Eating Disorder
Editor's Note: We will be following Trinity on her journey through eating disorder recovery as she learns to accept herself and her body. It's our hope to shed light on what this disorder looks like from the inside, as well as to provide support for Trinity through her progress. You'll find Trinity's posts once a month.
Words by Trinity Murray
Six years ago my doctor said to me that I had been eating less than enough to keep a two year old alive, and that if I kept going at that rate I wouldn't make it to the age of 20.
Being thirteen at the time, I didn't really know what to think. It took quite a while for the reality of the situation to set in. I guess I didn't realize how bad things had truly gotten until I had heard those words. Yes, my hair was falling out. If someone gave me a hug, I would bruise. My nails were very brittle and always had to be polished so nobody would see how discolored they were due to vitamin deficiencies. I had passed out more times than I could count. It was difficult to pay attention in school, and at home I began to forget simple things most people would remember. I could not lift a carton of milk. I was constantly freezing my non-existent butt off. When I couldn’t sleep because the negative thoughts about my body would not stop playing on a loop in my head I counted crunches instead of sheep. The color had left my skin, and it was all I could do to just barely make it through each day. But did any of that phase me? Truthfully, not a bit of that had crossed my mind until recently.
The only thing on my mind were numbers.
Calories in, calories out, how many miles to jog or sit-ups to do in order to burn off that apple from earlier, and the one number that never once left my mind...the one on the scale.
There was a time in my life that I had stepped on that scale twenty-nine times a day. I kept record of only the first and last numbers. The others were just to reassure myself that a stick of gum wouldn’t push me past my specific limits for that day. That number, as I have learned since my diagnosis of EDNOS or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (the last stop before Anorexia Nervosa with more recorded deaths than Anorexia and Bulimia combined), was and is still a way for me to stay grounded and in control of something in a chaotic world.
At my worst, I weighed around seventy pounds under what was considered average for my height and age. Doctors said that I needed to gain weight so that I could be in that range, but nobody asked me if I wanted to be average. The answer would have been no, and the answer remains no today for a completely different reason. I would have said no six years ago because of the weight I would have had to restore (that’s the eating disorder recovery word for “gain” which is supposed to make people like me feel more comfortable with the idea).
Today, I would say no if I was asked if I wanted to be average. Not because of the weight restoration or added calories or fewer crunches, but because there are far better things to do with our lives than be average! This is the exact thought that got me on the path towards a healthier and happier life. The realization that I could do amazing things with the life that I was given got me to age nineteen…and counting! All of those incredibly amazing individuals out there including yourself who were told time after time by society that they couldn’t do something or that they were not good enough in any way at all, I invite you to join me in proving the world wrong.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please visit the National Eating Disorders Association to find help.
Trinity is a small town girl studying Fashion Design at Kent State University holding onto the hope of becoming a fashion journalist. Though her passion is for fashion, she enjoys good conversation, great books, and lots of coffee.