Meeting these two girls was such an amazing and inspiring experience. Although they have both gone through their own struggles, the two girls now have made it their mission to help other teens who are going through what they went through. They are such a delight to be around with such optimistic outlooks. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, Annamarie and Rachel!
Articles by Annamarie Galante & Rachel Rink
A Recovery - A New Me. By Annamarie Galante
People constantly said to me, “Why don’t you just eat? Come on. It’s not that hard to just eat a sandwich.” If only it were that simple. Contrary to popular belief, I never woke up thinking “I want to have an eating disorder!” Instead, I used to wake up crying. I used to look at myself and my heart would legitimately ache in self shame. “I just need to lose a few more pounds and then I’ll stop losing weight,” I’d tell myself time after time. But once I stepped on the scale and saw the decrease in numbers, I’d feel an adrenaline rush throughout my fragile skin. I felt empowered. But, in a matter of minutes, I’d start to feel obese again, “Ok just a few more pounds, and then I’ll stop” I’d say to myself. It was a vicious cycle. There was no rhyme or reason to it. I felt I was more powerful than anyone when I wasn’t eating. What a peculiar way to feel competent. For four years, I struggled with Anorexia NOS.
Thanks to a lot of professional and parental help, I’m approximately 60 pounds healthier and I rarely get insecure over my body. I realize now that normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until I am satisfied. It is being able to choose food I like to eat and truly getting enough of it. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so that I get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that I miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving myself permission to eat sometimes when I’m happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good. It’s leaving some cookies on the plate because I know that I can have some again tomorrow, or it’s eating more now because they taste so wonderful. I know now that in short, normal eating is flexible; it varies in response to my hunger, my schedule, my proximity to food, and my feelings. I never realized how much fun it was to sit around with your friends and eat chips without thinking twice about it. I never realized how much I was missing out on by choosing not to go out to dinner with friends. I do now. I will never starve myself again. I love food. I love how nourished and strong my body is.
Take it from someone who never wanted to get better because believing the phrase “it gets better” seems impossible when you’re hurting so much. But you don’t need to believe it, just hold on to the idea of it. One day you’ll look back on everything and realize it’s true. I genuinely wouldn’t undo a single day of all of the pain and suffering, because it formed me into the person I am today and God I love that person regardless of what anyone says.
Beauty is Pain. Anorexia is a Liar. Recovery is Real. By Rachel Rink
Beauty is pain. That is what my mother told me after I slipped into a pair of high heels before the school dance. Beauty is pain. That is what my sister told me after I was complaining about having to go get my eyebrows waxed. Beauty is pain. That is what my friends told me as they were brushing through my knotted hair. Beauty is pain. That is what I told myself after purging everything out of my stomach. Beauty is pain. That is what I told myself after completing a three mile run, for the third time that day. Beauty is pain. That is what I told myself after feeling hunger pains in my stomach but still turning down the meal being offered. I grew up with the impression that beauty is painful. That women and girls should do whatever they need to do in order to look beautiful. When I was in tenth grade, I took that saying to another level. It was no longer just a saying, it became a lifestyle. Because in tenth grade, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia is not something that I would wish on my worst enemy. Not just because it makes you an insomniac or because it makes your skin crack and fades away all your coloring. Not just because it makes you a liar. Lying to your friends and family about how much you ate or how much you weigh. Or because it makes you anti-social, rather spending hours in your room calculating and recalculating your meals. Especially not just because often times the disorder lands you straight in the hospital, with tubes up your nose and ulcers lining your stomach. Anorexia is not something I would wish on my worst enemy because it never leaves you alone. It makes a comeback when you least expect it. It barges into your bedroom as you’re trying on new clothes you just bought at the mall. It forces its way into your friend's backyard right after someone suggests taking a dip in the pool. It stays lurking in the back of your mind, promising you that no matter what, it is the answer to your problems. That if you follow the anorexia, all of your moments of discomfort will disappear.
One thing I’ve learned is that anorexia is a liar. After almost three years of struggling I had to decide to no longer let my eating disorder intrude on my life. At first I thought that gaining weight was going to be the hard part, that letting go of my malnourished body was going to be the biggest obstacle to face. But boy, was I wrong. Recovery feels like you are getting worse. It feels like crying into a meal that a long long time ago, you would've enjoyed. It feels like wanting to break out of your skin that's holding you captive. It feels like dreading every pound, every ounce, every difference in your body because it's not up to the standards of your anorexia. It feels like shaking by the toilet because your brain is begging you to purge but your heart is telling you no. But sometimes, recovery feels like pure joy. As you hang out with your friends and feel truly present because you're not weak from hunger. It feels like acceptance as you fall back in love with not only your body, but yourself. It feels like strength because you realize your body never gave out on you after all you put it through. Recovery may be the most challenging thing you ever face, I know it was for me. And you may not believe me now, but there is a life after your eating disorder.
Recovery is real. I know that by the way I no longer hesitate when my friends ask me to meet them for lunch. Recovery is real. I know that by the way my body is able to train and run a ten mile race in the spring. Recovery is real. I know this because I no longer use my disorder as a crutch. I allow myself let out my emotions by talking, not by sticking my fingers down my throat. I learned to take life in by laughter and memories, not calories and exercise. Please, if you are struggling, let my words be your mirror. Let them reflect to you that beauty doesn't have to be painful and that recovery is real