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.
- 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