Kristi's Story

Eating disorders are nothing to fool around with.  They are dangerous.  They are fatal.  Please listen to what I have to say.....
People often wonder what the reasons for an eating disorder are.  I have a lot of reasons for mine (and normally, most people do--it's a complex issue).  First of all, I was always a very shy child.  I grew up into a shy adult.  I felt like I didn't matter.  I felt like was just..exhisting.  People around me had dreams and wishes.  I did too, but I felt so worthless. that I didn't think my dreams should come true.  I believed that I was a bad girl, and that I should always suffer. 
Part of me (but not all) thinking I was a bad girl, was due to sexual abuse.  ( I just want to add that not all people with an eating disorder have been sexually abused)  I've been sexually abused, and raped multiple times while in my late teens. 
The sexual abuse was definitely ONE of the precursors for my eating disorder. 
And the rapes, they happened while I was in the middle of anorexia and bulimia--and this just intensified the disorders.  I guess what I was trying to accomplish by losing weight  this was to disappear---disappear because I felt so useless and worthless.   (And all my life, I have been thin--I was never over weight--at least that's what everyone says.  I've never seen myself as thin, even at my lowest weights.  In fact, the lower my weight, the "fatter" I felt)
 
                      ANNIE WRECKS YA'


Annie wrecks ya'
She's vile and secret and disconnects ya'
In the beginning you take the bait
Then she becomes your only mate

Annie smothers your spark
Leaves you lifeless, dark
She laughs at your pain
For it means she's winning the game

Annie dries your hair, your bones, your heart
From everything meaningful she rips you apart
She steals you life and occupies your time
Annie never admits she is out to control your mind

Annie feeds on the fears you have deep inside
Never confessing all her words have been lies
There is no part of you that she fails to infect
For your mind, body and soul she has no respect

Annie grows so  much stronger than you could ever believe
And blindly accepting you follow her lead
But I know now that this disease disrespects ya'
I know the truth----Annie wrecks ya'

* this was written by a young woman in Nov. 1995--During her Eating disorder treatment. She didn't want her name used--she asked it be signed "A daughter/A sister"--because these were the people she hurt most during her struggle with anorexia.
THE KEY

Love can be soothing,
sometimes overly intruding.
Love can make you giggle,
make your heart strings frolic and wiggle.
It can make you cry so hard you can't breathe,
especially when the one you love
unexpectedly leaves.
It can make you weary and somber,
spend countless hours trying to ponder--
the meaning of life and God
in the skies above.
We spend our lives hoping to be loved by everyone else--
But the key to being loved---
is to love yourself

-Kristi Sharp

UNTITLED

Keep beating heart, try to keep an even rhythm.
Don't die out on me, I want to continue living.
I know it's hard without food--without what you need,
I hear your hungry pleads.
I try--I honestly do,
to take good care of you.
I'm trying to hold on to life--
trying to win this fight.
One day in time, I know I will...
Until then--my heart--don't be still

-Kristi Sharp


WORTHLESS

When I go over my self restricted eating limitations
I become a corpse of humiliation
I begin o hate myself for eating more than I planned
It just magnifies the worthless person I am.

I go into hiding
Convulsions of crying.
If I don't stay at my calorie mark
it's an automatic depression episode-
my mind gets so dark.

Voices inside growl that I am absurd
but worthless is their favorite word.
I feel like a nobody
when I eat one more calorie-
than I was supposed to.

I HAVE to follow through
with my low calorie plan,
I'm still fat, and in a sense-that you would find hard to understand
I need to be sicker than I am.

This also shows myself that I can--
be good at something---weight loss.
It just breaks my heart
that my life is the cost.

-Kristi Sharp
Personal Poems  &  Stories
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AS A MALE

My name is Wayland Wade.  I currently live in Kansas City. MO.  I have struggled with bulimia and anorexia since I was about 14.  I had mainly struggled with bulimia, but the anorexia would show up from time to time.  The first time I recall hearing of these disorders was in 6th grade Health class.  My teacher started talking about how some people wanted to be thin so bad they would do these horrible things to themselves.  At that young of an age, I had already learned that self injury was somewhat of an escape.  So as soon as I heard about the binging and purging,
I heard something attractive to me.  I remember trying and failing at it, and trying again.  It went away for years after flirting with the idea for a while.  I soon after found that exercise was my outlet-and I would work out for hours a day because this was more accepted.  When the purging came back at the age of 21--it came back full force. 
See, I had been masking my life with drugs and alcohol since I was 13 or 14 as well, so I has my "crutch", as they call it.  Now I realize that it's a disease called addiction, which is so much more than a "crutch".  When I got clean in a treatment facility, actually even before I did, the eating disorder came back and took my life over immediately.  All of a sudden, I couldn't eat with people.  I couldn't see, smell, talk about or even hear about food without an overwhelming feeling of horror coming over my entire being.  I would lay down, curled up in a ball after eating, praying that "it" would pass me by this time--but I would almost always find myself hiding somewhere "getting rid of it". I ended up going to treatment for the bulimia and the drug addiction when I was 23.  I had lived miserably for far too long.  I had relapsed with the drugs when I found that I couldn't quit purging or restricting--so I was back in a treatment facility for both the drugs and the eating disorder.  There they taught me that I had to plan meals--I had to nourish myself.  I had to build a support network of friends in recovery from eating disorders just like I had been doing with the drug addiction.  As a male, I found that very difficult.  I tried going to a 12 step program for food addicts and got involved in therapy again.  I found it hard to relate to others with food issues because they did not suffer from the same disorder that I did.  I feel that an eating disorder is just about the hardest form of addiction, for me, to recover from.  I can live without the drugs.  I can live without self injury--but I can't live without food.  It seems that girls, and women are expected a little more openly with eating disorders than men and boys are.  I don't feel that is right--and my plan now is to try and educate as many people as possible. I want them to know that just because I'm male does not exclude me from suffering from an eating disorder.  My hope is that we can all work together to further educate people and remove some of the dividing barriers between those suffering from eating disorders and those who are ignorant on this subject.  I feel that education will help us to do just that.

-Wayland Wade
How do I know all of this???  Because I have now spent years in therapy.  I got so unhealthy, so thin, that I had to be hospitalized.(But I could never see that I was thin--I always thought of myself as overweight).  I've been through six hospitalizations due to anorexia and bulimia.  Two were near fatal.  But I'm one of the lucky ones.  I've made it through, and I have a lot of support.  All of my doctors and therapists, and my family have been wonderful to me.  I have learned a lot in therapy--and I will continue learning.  I will, more than likely, be in therapy for a few more years--because an eating disorder does not go away overnight.
   The hospitalizations were scary.  I was told repeatedly, by the doctors, that if I didn't quit starving myself and purging, that I would surely die.  I've even had to be tube fed--and trust me--that is no fun.  It didn't really hurt, it was just uncomfortable.  And I was so freaked out--because it was so many calories going into me all at once---but the nutrition nursed me back to health.
   Health that I still have today.  I am 22  right now, still trying to recover from anorexia and bulimia.  I was 17 when this all started.  This work through recovery isn't easy.  Some people say "oh--just eat"!!!--but it is not that easy.  If it were that easy, I wouldn't be this way today.  In recovery, you have to work on the issues that made you starve yourself--and that emotional work can be quite hard.  It can definitely create a relapse.  I've had relapses--I've had many---but I'm still fighting today.  And the doctor/therapist apts---if I could work right now, I couldn't have a full time job--because of all the appointments.  I regularly see a cardiologist, a gastro(stomach) doctor, my medical doctor, hypnotherapist, therapist and my psychiatrist.  This takes up a lot of my time, but I HAVE to see all of these doctors--due to the emotional and physical damage I've caused myself.  Some of my "physical" damage is heart problems (arrythmias and tachycardia) stomach problems ( IBS), lowered immune system(meaning I'm more succeptible to colds and infections), tooth damage (from purging), chronic sore throats, broken blood vessels in my eyes, low blood pressure, pale skin, etc.  I;m  on disability, due to all of my medical problems.  All of my money goes to doctors, therapists and medications-and these are just "some" of the damages.  I could go on for a whole page with the physical damage I've caused.
   Emotionally, well, let's see-----I was engaged to be married when I was 19, but while I was in a treatment center in Philly, my fiance broke up with me, because he just couldn't deal with me anymore--that's what he said (I'm still trying to get over him--I loved him so much).  He broke up with me over the phone, and I cried my eyes out.  I was all alone too, in an out of state facility( I live in Ohio)--and I was scared.  He left me though--because my anorexia and bulimia were just too severe.  I think I will always live with the emotional damage.  There was one time I was hospitalized, and the psychiatrist treating me didn't think I should leave the hospital.  I had to have a court hearing over whether or not I was "stable" enough to go home--or to the State Hospital.  I was so scared.  I'd never been to the state hospital, but I'd heard stories about it--and I didn't want to go.  On the day of my hearing--do you know what I had to go through???--I had to be escorted out of the building by police men, then transferred to the court in a sheriff's van.  I was treated like I was a criminal or something--it was traumatizing.  My mom, dad, and sisters were there--and this was hard on them--all of this has been very hard on my family--yet they still support me 100%
   Last January, I was once again put in the cardiac unit.  At 22 years old, I shouldn't  even be thinking of heart problems--but I have to, because my heart is damaged from the disorders.  I almost didn't make it out alive this time.  My blood pressure went so low--my heart nearly stopped.  After I was stabilized medically, I was transferred to the psychiatric unit for a month.  It was hard--basically I had to learn how to eat "normally" again.
   I could tell and write much more about my experience with anorexia and bulimia--but I think you have gotten the point.  I am now trying to recover from this 5 year ordeal.  It can be done.  I've met lots of people who have recovered from eating disorders--and I believe--that with all the support I have--that I can eventually recover too.
I’m 21 years old, and I am recovering from a seven year battle with anorexia nervosa.

I must be honest with all of you, when Debbie first asked me to speak at the vigil; I was very reluctant.  It was very difficult for me to write this speech, as I needed to look at my past.  Although I am not ashamed of where I have been, it was a difficult time for me that I wish no one ever had to visit.  But then I realized that today I’m not here as one single voice.  I am one of approximately 24 million Americans and 70 million people worldwide who also struggle.  I am here today to for anyone, boy or girl, who has had to see that pained look in their best friend’s eyes as she begs in vain for them to “take just one more bite.” For anyone who ever wished that they could just enjoy one meal without feeling as if they have failed themselves.     

My struggle began when I was 14, a freshman in high school.  I did not set out to be anorexic.  I just never felt good enough and my life was out of control.  My parents had marital problems that they often pretended were not there.  I believed that so-called negative feelings were not acceptable: sorrow was buried, pain was hidden, and anger was swallowed.  I overworked, overachieved and took care of everyone except myself.  There was nothing left inside of me.

It started as a simple diet and within a year had escalated into a full blown eating disorder; only at the time I didn’t know it.  It wasn’t until two years later, while sitting on my best friend at the times porch, that I was first confronted with the statement “Kris, I think you have a problem.”  After months of denial I landed myself in the hospital for the first time and heard the same words from a doctor.  I was forced to begin therapy but that wasn’t a magic cure.  I had my first heart attack when I was 18 and on February 12, 2004, at 19, I received my last rights.

I was told that I would not live through that night. As I lied in that hospital bed I put my life into God’s hands; and the doctors were not the only ones surprised when I awoke the next morning.  I realized then that God was not finished with me yet, I had not fulfilled his mission here; I had more to offer.  That day I began what would be one of the most difficult journeys I would ever take, the uphill road to recovery.

This road is not a straight one, I’ve gotten lost many times along the way; many times starting right back at the beginning.  At times I fell behind in school, lost promotions at work, and grew further and further away from my family.  I turned to self-injury to deal with my depression and emotions, often crying myself to sleep at night as I watched friends from support groups die one by one.  I was waiting for my turn. 

ANOREXIA AND I
by Nicole Schlesinger ~Nicole died in April 2003, from complications from Anorexia~

3:30 AM: GET UP. GO TO GYM. RUN 6.50 MILES. BURN 600 CALORIES
4:30 AM: DO 800 SIT-UPS. DO UPPER / LOWER BODY STRENGTH TRAINING.
5:30 AM: GO HOME. TAKE A SHOWER. TAKE A NAP.
9:00 AM: WAKE UP. STUDY. DRIVE TO SCHOOL. ATTEND CLASS. DRIVE HOME.
3:00 - 9:00 PM: EAT A LITTLE. STUDY A LOT. EAT A LITTLE. STUDY A LOT.
9:30 PM: TAKE A BATH. GO TO BED.

The above scene is a typical day of my life with an eating disorder. I have lived with this "commander" who tells me what I have to do, what I can eat, and how much I must exercise, for almost five years. In the summer of 1997, when I was formally diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, I decided to give this voice a name: I call her, appropriately, Anorexia. It is necessary for me to give Anorexia a title in order to distinguish her from me, Nicole. I am the healthy person who, although hates having to share space with Anorexia, has learned to accept her presence; at least for now.
During my first semester at UC Berkeley, in the fall of 1994, Anorexia slowly began to suck me into her world. At five feet six inches tall, and 139 pounds, I decided to avoid the "freshman 15" by joining Weight Watchers with my mom. It was to be a mother / daughter "bonding" experience. Unknowingly, however, Weight Watchers was to become the fuel that fed Anorexia (no pun intended). Instead of following the plan sensibly, I took it to the extreme: I counted every calorie, exercised intensely, and wrote everything down in my journal religiously. The program had to be followed EXACTLY. At this time I didn't realize that my behaviors were the early signs of an eating disorder.
After leaving Weight Watchers three months later, weighing only nine pounds lighter, Anorexia became louder; she started to take over my life. I drifted through school between 1995 and 1997, not only convinced that eating an apple and carrots during the day was sufficient, but also that I had to purge those calories through vigorous exercise before I could eat dinner. Although I didn't weigh myself as a measure of my progress (a common practice amongst anorectics), I was losing weight at a rapid pace. When I dropped below 112 pounds I stopped my period. This is a condition known as amennorhea and is one of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM IV for Anorexia Nervosa. I also developed gastrointestinal problems due to the lack of food in my stomach and the subsequent build up of acid. Even though my weight plummeted to 95 pounds, Anorexia blinded me; I literally could not see how thin I was despite the fact that my family and friends expressed great concern about how skinny I looked. In some ways I actually thought I was still too fat. The distorted body image that I had (and still have) is another warning signal of an eating disorder. As I began meeting the criteria for Anorexia Nervosa my physician referred me to a psychiatrist for therapy.

In the course of my treatment I was hospitalized five times, beginning in August of 1997 and ending in January of 1998. It was during this period that I began to hear Anorexia's voice inside my head. Prior to this I had no idea what or who was driving my behaviors; nor did I think that they were abnormal. When Anorexia came out of the closet, so-to-speak, I thought I was going crazy. However, I have learned that people with eating disorders often hear "voices" that battle each other in their head. Someone described her life with anorexia as a 24 hours a day seven days a week war, that never seems to quiet down – not even during sleep. Peggy Claude – Pierre, a mother who has helped her two daughters recover from anorexia, titles her book The Secret Language of Eating Disorders. Anorexia definitely has her own speech: The following journal entry depicts the battle between Anorexia and Nicole: (Anorexia's voice is in italics) 11-25-97: I had breakfast and forced lunch down my throat. I can't believe I ate lunch. I have to run. I can't throw up so I have to run! No, you can't do this. You must fight. Just give in Nicole. That is what you want. Anorexia also twists words around so that any positive statement turns into a negative one all in her quest for absolute perfection:11-25-97: "Dr. Norman, Blanca, and Marisol all said that you look good. You know what that means don't you? That you're getting fat! You are such a piece of shit. It's pathetic!" She also has her own view about the scale: 1-1-98: 100 pounds is FAT. The scale says I weigh 89 pounds! I don't believe what the scale says nor do I believe what my clothes show or people say. I know that I am fat and refuse to weigh 115 pounds. 8-14-97: I want to be skinny. Skinny. Skinny. I want to lose weight and get to at least 80 pounds, if not lower!"
This lifestyle, full of monotony, demands, and rituals, can be so frustrating that sometimes I want to jump out of myself and become someone else; just to get a little peace. To give you an idea of how bizarre some of these rituals are, I asked a friend how long it takes her to eat an apple. She said it takes her about 15 minutes and added that she bites into it (as opposed to slicing it) because it tastes better that way. I, on the other hand, eat an apple quite differently: I first cut one thin slice, cut that slice in half, and then cut each half into four equal size pieces. Not five, not three, but four. This "process" usually takes about two hours. As a side note, cutting food into small pieces and taking hours to eat is very commonplace among those with anorexia. I was also curious as to why my friend exercises. Her answer was quite normal for a college student: To maintain her weight and to stay fit. My reasons for exercising, however, have nothing to do with being healthy; that is, I MUST exercise before I eat anything so that I can "pre-purge" the calories that I will eat later.
Having Anorexia as a part of me is probably one of the most difficult things that I have had to live with. My daily rituals clearly show that she still holds a tight grip on me. In many ways my life is not really my own. I don't have the freedom to do what many college students do. I don't go out to eat nor do I socialize with friends at a cafe. However, as strange as this may sound, I often thank Anorexia for her presence. She gives me insight into myself and also into the world of eating disorders. Eating disorders, in general, are addictions such as smoking or drug dependence. They all serve as coping mechanisms for the stresses of life. When I escape into Anorexia's world of food, weight, and exercise obsession, I numb out the pain, anger, or sadness that I feel. However, I know that Anorexia's life is a false reality and I am trying to find the key to unlock the handcuffs that tie me to her. My struggle changes from day to day, hour to hour and sometimes minute to minute. However, if I have learned only one thing from my experiences, it is what I value most in life: It is NOT getting straight A's, or doing research, nor is it volunteering just to get into the "best" medical school. Rather, it is stopping every once in while to "smell the roses". For me this is as simple as coming home and spending time playing with my two cats, Alex and Baxter.