The hardest part for me has been trying to figure out what caused it all And I think there’s no real answer to that. I think a little bit is genetic. I remember I was on the boardwalk. I sat down on my mom’s lap. And she was like, “Ouch!” “You’re hurting me. Your bones are digging into my legs.” My aunt would say things like, “Oh, a lady always leaves food on her plate.” “We gotta be careful over the summer, there’s ice cream and pizza” “and boardwalk food.”
Very early in my freshman semester I almost completely stopped eating. So the first thing I decided was that I didn’t want to eat anything that had any fat content in it. And then at some point in that fall semester I remember walking back from the gym School was three hours away I walked into my dorm and I saw my parents’ car. And they hadn’t called to tell me they were coming. I was like, “This is not good.” I knew why they were there.
I found my parents. They were just outside of the resident director’s office. My mom was crying. My dad had tears in his eyes. I promised I was OK. I ate a full dinner. We went to Olive Garden. I ate spaghetti. And that was probably the last actual meal I ate for the next year Most of the time when people talk about anorexia, they’re like, “Just eat. Fix it.” “Problem solved.” And it’s so much more complicated than that. I couldn’t. Every single day I woke up and I wanted to. My parents cried daily. My mom used to sit outside my door to make sure I didn’t die in the night. My potassium levels had dropped so low that my heart was stopping. They admitted me to the hospital, a medical hospital Put some IVs in and decided then that I would go to the next possible place they could find an opening with for an eating disorder place And so when I got there, because of the condition of my heart, they put me on bed rest for two weeks. which meant that I was only allowed to be in bed and in a wheelchair, wheeled to meals. And that was it. There weren’t TVs in the rooms or anything. No phones. I was just sitting. In my room. With my anorexic roommate.
We weren’t supposed to talk about anything, But there were all these whispers, like “How much do you weigh?” “How much have you gained? How much have you lost? What did you do?” There were 12 girls to a unit, it was very small. It was in-patient, lockdown. If you did not gain a half a pound every day, You weren’t allowed to have visitors or make phone calls that day. The meals were … … brought up to you and we ate them with people watching us. The staff had to be there. You had to eat 100 percent of everything. If you had a packet of butter, and you did not finish it, you had to swipe it out with your finger and eat it. Or you didn’t get credit for eating the whole meal. I still have weird feelings surrounding food. I still don’t eat out that often.
One of the questions that students ask me during my speaking thing, almost every time it’s like, “How did you do that? How did you just stop eating? Didn’t it hurt? Weren’t you hungry?” And it didn’t hurt. I wasn’t that hungry.
So I try, especially because I have children and especially because I have daughters. We don’t talk about food being good or bad. I don’t try to force them to eat if they’re not hungry. I don’t deny them food if they say they’re hungry. I’m trying to let them learn to listen to their bodies. So this is funny. This is the part of that trailer for “To the Bone” that got me when they talk about her doing sit-ups ’cause that’s what I did. That’s the only thing you can do in private I was doing 3,000 sit-ups a day
My hope is that it sparks dialogue and conversation. But my fear is that it won’t.
I think people will watch it and there’s going to be some 13-year-old girl who watches it and is like, “OK, so that’s what I need to do.” Of all the psychiatric illnesses it has the highest mortality rate. So it’s no joke. I know girls who have died.