A year ago

I thought I was going to die about a year ago. I was by myself in a bookstore on a class trip faraway from home when I felt the strongest pain in my chest, my vision blurred and I had a salty taste in my mouth with an urge to vomit. Alone and scared, I sat in a chair and waited for it to pass. Each time I stood up my legs felt weak and I sat back down.

I’m having a heart attack at 22, I thought.

I’m going to die.

Eventually, I found the rest of my group and obviously have lived to tell the tale. I kept my experience to myself, inside my aching chest. I kept quiet for two days, but I didn’t feel better and I was scared. When I got home, I told my parents about what had happened. I was taken to the hospital. And for the second time in my life, I was told by hospital staff that I was malnourished and underweight.

Do you want to die? the nurse asked me.

No. I said, although my actions spoke otherwise. My refusal to take care of my body said yes, I do want to die.

Even with all the support I have from my loving family and friends, each day is an obstacle. Each day I have to look in the mirror and try my best to not judge, to focus on the positive and to will myself to recovery. Each day. And I thank God that I’ve made it this far, even though I’m nowhere near fully recovered, as long as my mind is riddled with the desire to stop eating.

The truth is, no one can make me recover. Only I can. There is nothing that I wish more than eating something that I used to thoroughly enjoy without feeling the heavy guilt after. And my wish today and everyday is that that day will come if I fight hard enough.

For those of you that are going through any eating disorder, know that you are not alone. Fight for life, it’s worth it.

-Dedicated to my family, especially to my parents who have spent countless hours worrying about me and always being by my side and to my siblings that always encourage me to take care of myself and have had to live with my sometimes unpleasant self.

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Roman Wisdom

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I’m reading this brick of a book called “Rome” by Robert Hughes in preparation for my travels to Rome, Italy(!). It’s an amazing and in-depth book about the history of this magical city.¬† I thought it would be nice to share here a quote by Leon Battista Alberti:

“Some admire a woman for being extremely slender and fine shaped; the young gentleman in Terence preferred a girl that was plump and fleshy; you perhaps are for a medium between these two extremes, and would neither have her so thin as to seem wasted with sickness, nor so strong and robust as it she were a Ploughman in disguise, and were fit for boxing: in short, you would like her such a beauty as might be formed by taking first what the second might spare. But then, because one pleases you more than the other, would you therefore affirm the other to be not at all handsome or graceful? By no means…”

You sir, Mr. Alberti, are awesome. I love that this ancient Roman is talking about how women come in different shapes and sizes and must be loved as they are and just because¬†she doesn’t please the eye of one person it does not mean that she is not beautiful. Now, of course, we know that looks are not as important as a person personality and inner beauty, but in today’s society so much importance is placed on the exterior of a person. What would the economy of today be without all those products that are meant to make us look like a better version of ourselves? Women didn’t have as prominent place (or voice) in ancient societies as we do now, and that’s not the point of this post, we know we don’t need to please anyone but ourselves. But I think that we should remember that regardless of what kind of body you were born with, you are beautiful!

Thin does not equal happy

Body-dysmorphic-disorderYesterday, like any typical morning, I was watching Good Morning America before heading off to work. I hear the words “thigh gap” and I look at the TV screen and see a series of images of “thigh gaps”, which is literally the gap between a woman’s thighs when the feet are right by each other. Apparently, the latest obsession for teenagers is to achieve the thigh gap. One of the teenagers that were interviewed said that having her thighs touch was simply undesirable. I didn’t finish the news segment because (1) I had to go to work and (2) as someone who struggles with body image, I didn’t want to hear what extremes women are doing to reach body “perfection”. The truth is this: thinness doesn’t make a person happy. Eating near to nothing, working out to the point of exhaustion and fearing the number the scale, even as the pounds shed and even as the victory of getting the “thigh gap” is achieved doesn’t make anyone truly happy. While, yes a feeling of joy can be felt, it’s fleeting. When happiness is placed solely on ones appearance, if you are like me and can be your own worst critic, you’ll always find a flaw. It’s sad that so many truly smart people fall into the mind trap of thinking that if we just lose a few more pounds we’ll be happy, if we just get our teeth a little whiter we’ll be happy or if we wear a certain brand of designer clothing we’ll be happy. Being healthy and active it was should be what we strive for. A healthy and active individual will lead to confidence and self love. Instead of saying “I don’t have a thigh gap and I’m ugly because my thighs touch” we should say “my legs are powerful and help me get around during the day”. Instead of relying only on outer beauty for happiness we should focus on the inner beauty that comes with being kind and respectful to others and to ourselves. We should look in the mirror and say “I love myself because of this, this and this” and not be so negative towards ourselves. I look forward to the day that the segment in Good Morning America isn’t about young women torturing themselves to be thin but doing healthy things to reach an inner happiness that will exude from their very core.