Christine is a 15 year old from St. Paul, MN. She is an avid writer and also enjoys running, reading, and travelling.
All it took was a tear in my geography teachers’ eye to save my life.
I had been battling an eating disorder for over six months- living off a ½ cup of cereal for breakfast with no milk (120 calories), a small cup of lowfat yogurt for lunch (80 calories), and a ½ cup of pasta with tomato sauce for dinner with a ½ cup of milk (300 calories). I don’t know how it all started. Maybe it was when my brother called my skinny body fat, maybe it was when my dad congratulated me for being more muscular than the other girls on my volleyball team, maybe it was watching my mom excercising and dieting all the time. Whatever it was, my eating disorder hit me hard. I ran on the tredmill for 20 minutes before school, I biked 3 miles to get to school, I went to Nordic Ski practice for 2 hours after school, and I biked 3 miles back home. Pounds melted off of me and I felt strong, fit, and fast… until my symptoms began to hit me hard.
I became chronically cold- shivering in eighty-degree rooms. I became pale and weak. I was dizzy and light-headed, almost fainting when I stood up. But I loved my new body. My previous too-muscular thighs had become thin and sleek. My round facial cheeks faded into sharp angles and high cheekbones. I was addicted to improving my body.
Then, one day in May, my geography teacher pulled me out of class.
He was my favorite teacher in the world. He was funny, kind, and like a father to me. He seemed to always keep an eye out for me. He made me feel special.
When he pulled me out of class I was shivering from my eating disorder induced chills. He shut the door behind me and looked me straight in the eye.
“Are you okay?” He asked. “You haven’t seemed quite right in class.”
“Yeah,” I lied, casually. “Just tired.” I feigned a yawn and looked away.
I realized he was staring at me oddly, so I looked back in his eyes. I was shocked to see his eyes looked wet. An uncomfortable knot formed in my stomach.
“Christine, I don’t know what’s going on with you, but I want you to know that everyone here cares for you. You’re strong, beautiful, and smart. I want you to beat whatever it is you’re going through. I don’t want to lose you. You understand?”
“Y-yeah…” I said, awkwardly, before hastily retreating back through the door to my seat.
The rest of that class I didn’t make eye contact with him and sat in my seat, many confused thoughts going through my head. What was wrong with me? Why was I starving myself? How did he know?
When I got home I almost passed out again. Hunger gnawed at my stomach like a knife, but I couldn’t make myself eat. I just couldn’t. When my mom came home I reverted my gaze, before impulsively deciding to speak.
“M-m-om?” I asked, my voice breaking. “I think I need to go the hospital- to get help.”
I expected her to break into a panic, asking me what was wrong, but to my surprise my mom looked at me calmly and replied. “I know.”
That evening I was driven right to the eating disorder hospital. I was admitted into the top floor, where I was moved into a room of my own with other identical, teenage stick figures. I didn’t show up to school for those last 3 weeks of school. Instead, I lived at the hospital in a small bedroom. I slept, ate, then ate again, then ate again. I ate six meals a day. I had lost 30 pounds in a month, had a heart rate below 40, and I was at high risk of sudden death or cardiac arrest. I didn’t want to die. Instead, I ate everything served to me.
Never had food been so delicious. I felt as if it was the best thing in the world. The sourest strawberry tasted like a piece of heaven. An uncooked piece of chicken seemed to melt in my mouth like a piece of cheesecake. Food…. Food… food. My deprived brain couldn’t stop thinking about it.
After three weeks I moved back home and steadily gained all my weight back over the next few months. My thighs that I had hated so much came back. My cheeks reappeared. My prominent ribs faded back from my skin. At times I cried, feeling as if all my hard work had been for nothing, but soon I began seeing myself for who I really was. I was strong, smart, athletic and… beautiful.
Now I am going to high school. Although many of the girls I met at the eating disorder center have relapsed, I know that no matter what, I will never fall into such a terrible loop. Instead, I think of my favorite geography teacher, and the tear in his eye, and remind myself that no matter what, I have all the friends and family I need to support me, without killing myself through an eating disorder.
I never got to see my favorite teacher again after going to the hospital, but I won’t let him down. After all, it’s the least I can do to thank him for saving my life. Without him, I wouldn’t be around today.