Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

Consumed by Numbers

178895760For almost a decade I was consumed with numbers. With every waking minute, numbers interrupted my every thought.

“I need to (3.8) take out the trash”
“My shift (100) starts in an hour” 
“The dog needs to (22) go on a walk”
“I wonder if (2) it will snow today” 

Each number had meaning and each meaning was worse than the number before.

3.8- miles I would manage to “run” every morning
100- magic number I wouldn’t let my weight creep above.
22- longest number of days that I went without eating anything other than Diet Coke and celery. 
2- eggs every Saturday morning- my only meal of the week. 

My childhood was pretty unremarkable in the sense that life was good. We lived in a picturesque home, attended grand tea parties in the summer, and we had a swing big enough for two that hung from the big oak tree in the back yard. I can’t pinpoint the exact time my eating disorder started or why I was one of the unlucky ones to develop this horrendous disease. All I know is that when it hit, it hit hard.

By the time I was in 6th grade, I would slip most of my dinner into my pocket and flush it down the toilet after everyone else in the house had gone to sleep. While my friends would be giggling about the cute boy in homeroom, I would be thinking about sneaking to the bathroom to vomit.

Image being stuck in the drain guard when you are draining the dishwater- you are trapped in a constant spiral but you aren’t going anywhere. This is what high school and the summer after graduation felt like. I was spiraling, nowhere near rock bottom yet, but there was no escaping either. My life revolved around lies and deception and even though the guilt was unbearable, the numbers were in control.

After I moved away to college, I was alone in a big city (well, big compared to what I had always known) and I didn’t know a soul. Since most activities centered around food, I didn’t meet many people, and in turn I felt even more isolated and alone. My Anorexia didn’t just inhibit my social life, it took its toll on my school work as well. I couldn’t focus on what the professors were saying when all my brain would process was my numbers; the miles that needed to be run, the calories in vs calories out, how many more days I could hold out until I needed to eat again.

Those numbers robbed me of so many things. I did not returning to college after my freshman year, I was too weak to walk the campus and my mind was so distracted that I couldn’t comprehend the lectures. My wedding day, which was just a few weeks after school let out, wasn’t free from the grips of my eating disorder. Looking back, I don’t recall much from my wedding day- I don’t remember if the sun was shining, or the scent of the small chapel. All I remember is praying over and over to have the strength to stand for the 20 minute ceremony.

I hit rock bottom about a year after my wedding. I laid in bed one evening, afraid to close my eyes out of fear they would never open again and instead of getting up and finally feeding my malnourished body, I did the 20 remaining jumping jacks that my numbers needed. It was then that I knew things had to change.

The road to recovery is not easy, but slowly, the old numbers have been replaced with new ones. These new numbers have a meaning and each one more powerful than the last:

20- current percentage of women that have disordered eating habits (The Emily Program Foundation)

2- years from now my eldest child will be at the age I was when I became fixated on my weight

3- children that need me to model healthy life choices


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