Why didn’t someone know the signs?

When I was 15 years old a doctor took my height and weight, remarked I was a little one and proceeded on with the appointment as if nothing could be wrong. Then a few months later a different doctor did the same, remarked that I was indeed little, didn’t notice my weight had dropped significantly, and then didn’t think twice that I hadn’t had a period in a few months. That same year teachers saw my face become empty as the year went on, some remarked on my ability to turn down the treat of a cupcake after SOL testing with envy/awe, and no one saw a problem in the fact that my jeans were falling down, I wore large sweatshirts in 70 degree weather, and my hair was becoming so thin I showed up with a bob cut one Monday in an attempt to disguise it.

I was surrounded by professionals who should have recognized the signs of anorexia nervosa as it developed in me beginning at the age of 15. But either they did not know the signs, or they chose to ignore it in hopes that it would somehow disappear or it was normal for a 15 year old to diet and want to lose a little weight. But that isn’t what happened at all. I was slowly dying inside and out, screaming silently for the help I thought would never come. Until one day I broke and clung to my mom for help. And she fought for me, finding me the help I needed to get rid of a monster of a disease that had taken over my life.

But why didn’t any of my teachers, doctors, and countless others see what was happening to me and say something?

I will forever ask myself this question. Why didn’t that doctor say something other than I was a little one. Why didn’t this person then follow up with questions about my diet, exercise, and mental health? Is it because no one knew the right questions to ask or did they really not see the problem. Food, exercise, and dieting becomes more prevalent in our society every minute. The search for the perfect human diet, the cause of obesity, and how to fix it is where all of the research money is these days. But every person that starts a diet in this search for a new body that they were never meant to have is another person at risk for developing a unhealthy relationship with themselves, food, and exercise and potentially a full blown eating disorder.

The search for the perfect diet has been around for centuries, and it may never end. But that means dieting and unhealthy body image will continue too. Today’s health professionals have to step up. They have to know the signs, when to intervene, and what to say to get a person the help he or she needs.

I will never know the answer to why no one saw the problem in me until it was almost too late. And I will always wonder- Why didn’t anyone see me and help me?

I hope the answer is so I can make it so another 15 year old boy or girl is seen and helped. Before it is too late. Before an eating disorder can come to full light.

This month is a big one for me. When I decided to recover from my eating disorder, I also chose to make it one of my main goals to educate others about eating disorder prevention, recovery, the dangers of dieting, and the importance of vanishing the mirrors in life to see the real reflection of yourself. I hope Making Strides Towards Healthy Lives does all of that and so much more.

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  • April 27, 2013 at Gilbert Linkous Elementary in Blacksburg, VA from 1pm-3pm
  • $15 registration with free t-shirt if you register by April 11
  • Free Zumba class at the event
  • Larabars and other awesome prizes!
  • Health professionals from all fields

To register for Virginia Tech’s 2nd Annual Body Image Awareness Walk please visit our website

 

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14 thoughts on “Why didn’t someone know the signs?

  1. I can relate to this post so much and it makes me so mad! When I was struggling with eating, I saw 2 doctors and 1 specialist because I thought something was wrong with me and I didn’t recognize that it was because of an ED. None of them referred me to an RD. When they asked if I had an ED, I said no, and they just left it at that and didn’t investigate any further. So I had to recognize I had an ED on my own, gain the motivation to get better on my own, and learn how to recover on my own. I feel like the health care system majorly majorly failed me. And it makes me sad to think that there are probably others who aren’t getting the help they need either. So it’s awesome that you’re active in ED awareness promotion! 🙂

    • We have a very similar story girl, another thing that makes us alike. I basically diagnosed myself, so it came too late and I blame it for why I still struggle with pieces today- I never got the full treatment because doctors didn’t know what to do. It is part of the reason I want to join the profession of dietetics. It is time we recognize all unhealthy behaviors from dieting to over consumption. I do believe however that because of making it my choice to recover I can help others more and am stronger in my commitment to recovery for life!

  2. It’s amazing that people aren’t willing to see what’s going on right in front of them. I am able to pick out problems like it’s just another part of my day. Personally, my teachers and some classmates were the first to notice. It did take a couple months before I got small enough for it to become a problem but I still remember the day I got called out of sociology one morning to talk to a counselor where I proclaimed I was fine. Then the phone call came from a friend at school asking if I was okay, and that some of the gym teachers were worried about me. My parents were the last to realize it but a lot of people just drifted away as I shrank. Nobody wanted to face the demon head on, as if it is a taboo subject. I am so open about my past and my disorder now. I wish people were less afraid to talk about it.

    • It would certainly be a big step if people were not afraid of addressing problems when they first arose. I would be careful though with making assumptions about other people. For a long time I thought I could spot an eating disorder a mile away. Yes there are symptoms, but unless you have a person’s history and current state you don’t know where they are in life and it is not our place to judge or assume. It is actually awesome you had friends and teachers voicing their concerns. I know for me teachers never said anything as I just dwindled away

  3. This post nearly brought tears to my eyes. I hate to see you have struggled and you never deserved that all. I love how you truly enjoy helping others and the passion you have is going to help so many other people. If I was in VA you better believe I would be at that walk.

    • Run a little bit of that half for us and you will be there in spirit! I hate that this is me but at the same time I know I was given this as a gift to others and I plan to use it to stop eating disorders and unhealthy eating behaviors in their tracks.

  4. I have no words for this one, love, other than thank you for being the person you are…for looking beyond everything and use your experience to help someone else. The part about your mom shook me…that was and is my mum still. I’m glad you have her, love. And I echo Hollie…if i could make it to VA that weekend, I would in a heartbeat

    • Thank you Caitlin. This was harder to write than I anticipated, but I really want people to know that they can make a difference by becoming informed and speaking up. I wish someone had spoken up for me, but that doesn’t mean it has to be missed for someone else. I hope this walk gets our community talking

  5. That makes me so angry! It’s one thing for teachers to not say anything, but for a medical professional? that’s just unacceptable. I remember when I was in the worst phase of my ED – senior year of high school, when I lost 30 pounds in two months (and really only had 10 to lose), I thought I was being healthy – I had no idea I had an eating disorder. Until ALL (literally all) of my teachers and friends “ganged up on me” (that’s kinda how it felt at the time lol) and sent me to the school nurse. And she talked to me about eating disorders and I was like “oh…okay, I should gain some weight”. That’s just absurd to me that no one, not doctors, not your teachers or friends – no one said anything. BUT – clearly you’ve come out the other side so much stronger and wiser, and you’re right, no other 15 year old kid should EVER be forced into prolonged suffering by silence. You know if I could get myself across the country this week I’d totally be there supporting you!!

    • Kate you were one of the lucky ones! I wish someone had ganged up on me. Some dance teachers tried to say something but they didn’t try hard enough or follow up after saying something and so the ED just kept invading. It kills me to think that those same doctors are still so uninformed. My school nurse still remains silent and teachers that watched me almost die were not phased as much as they should have been. I am so passionate about this and I want to make a difference. I was given an eating disorder so it could become my passion in a positive way now that I am recovered.

  6. First time commenter but I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and this post really struck a chord with me! I honestly think that if my parents hadn’t been so watchful over my eating habits during my eating disorder, I may not have gotten help before it was too late. I’m also small and in my junior year of high school, I only dropped 10 pounds in a few months (and I was already underweight) but I was eating next to nothing and was looking up anorexia tips online. My parents caught on and started having me go to a nutritionist and therapist, which I’m so thankful for. Since then, I’ve had doctors be completely clueless to pretty obvious signs of relapse and the only way I was able to overcome them was by being open about it with my parents, so I’m forever grateful that they’re so understanding. I only wish everyone who has struggled with something similar would have someone like this in their lives to help them, even when the ‘experts’ can’t or won’t.

    • Thank you for this comment. Your parents are amazing and special to have seen the signs and acted on it! My parents and many other people’s see it but it is hard to act because a part of them never wants to fully admit there is a problem. Even now I think my parents see a sign of something I am doing that may eventually lead to another unhealthy habit, but they just don’t want to believe it could ever happen again. We have to speak up and make people act because people are dying from eating disorders everyday.

  7. i know how sad it feels when you think how u could have been stopped from this vivious cycle of an ed. I didn’t have my menses for 11 months and the gp termed it as just “irregular”.today at sucha young age I have pre osteophorosis in my hip bones, just imagine. sometimes I look back and think of how much I could have been saved.

    • Exactly. I am still so frustrated with my doctors because I still do not have a period and it appears no one is concerned except for myself. I know I need one and I want someone to help me get it back and to care enough to get to the bottom of this instead of saying babies are not in my immediate future so I do not need to be concerned when I know I do need to be.

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