YEARS AGO, at 12 or 13, I was involved in many activities at school and excelled in sports and academics. Everything seemed to be going very well. However, what I didn't realize at the time was just how scared I was of the world and of growing up. I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel in control of my life. In addition, I didn't like the way my body looked, as it didn't meet my standards of perfection. This self-criticism had been going on for quite some time.
As a result, I decided to put myself on a diet to lose about five pounds. Soon I decided this wasn't enough, so I kept going. I lost more and more weight, and I spiraled into an obsession with eating as little as possible. I was fearful that anything I ate would make me fat. After a few months of extensive physical activity and very little food, I had dropped an alarming amount of weight. Yet, my image in the mirror appeared to me as always too big. No one could convince me that I was too thin. I liked the way I looked, all skin and bones—and it was awful. I was completely mesmerized by the belief that I had control over something (my weight), and that I had to make my body look perfect.
During this time, my family had become very concerned. They had no idea what the problem could be. At the time, eating disorders such as anorexia didn't have labels and most people, even those in the field of healthcare, didn't know much, if anything, about these conditions.
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