Updated: Oct 4, 2020
I want to share with you how my eating disorder started. You don’t just wake up one day with a terrible relationship with food. Basically, I am going to go through my entire junior year of high school. There were a few key events during that year that triggered the mental disorder.
Before I start I want to say that after ten years, I have tried my best to forgive. I believe forgiveness is a process. I still have moments where I think “what if?” Sometimes it’s more than that, sometimes it less, but it always ends up the same. I can’t blame anyone for what happened to me. I made choices too.
I played volleyball since fifth grade and I loved it. I dreamed of playing in college. I worked hard to get better, playing during the summer and lifting weights. You can imagine how excited I was when the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, the varsity coach said I might play varsity the coming year.
And you can imagine my disappointment when my freshman coach, the one who benched me, moved up with us to coach JV.
So no I didn’t get to play varsity my sophomore year.
The summer between my sophomore year and my junior year, I went to every open gym the varsity coach held. Multiple times he indicated to me that I would start varsity that coming year.
But when the first week of practice rolled around, he made this statement at the end of our first practice, “I still don’t know who is going to play the right side.”
I’m not going to go into those next two weeks. Long story short, I ended up not getting the position. For the first game, I sat on the bench - and for every game that entire season. And I cried after every game, some practices too. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
About halfway through the season, my mom told me that I should lose weight. It would make me a better player and maybe I would get to play. My mom was on Weight Watchers at the time and was doing really well. So I tried it. Twenty pounds slipped off by the end of the season. Just in time for basketball season. And I had an awesome basketball season.
But for those winter months, I didn’t lose any weight. I hit a major plateau.
That’s when terrible thoughts started popping into my head. Thoughts like “you aren’t pretty” and “you are still fat.” I started to think of practice as burning calories. I started looking at sweets as the enemy. Every food became unhealthy.
The devolving process was slow at first, but after two or three months my thought process revolved around beating myself up and I equated happiness with skinniness. It was a slippery slope.
A little backstory, when I started high school, I wanted to be popular so bad. But I was so nervous, I just came off as weird and awkward. If there is one thing I could do in life is to go back to freshman year and not care about what other people think of me. Lots of popular girls played sports, so I spent a lot of time with them organically. And because I was so weird and awkward, they avoided me. They looked at me funny when I said anything. They ignored me. But I still desperately wanted to be their friend.
I know I’m dumb. I was a teenager, okay, give me some slack.
Come April, the tennis season was in full swing. I kept getting up at five am to go lift weights. I was getting insanely strong (still am, btw). I wasn’t the best tennis player, but the competition feared my killer serve. None of the popular girls played tennis so it was a nice break from the “bullying,” but I still saw them in class. And because we had one year left of playing sports together they were nice-ish to me in class.
That’s when more terrible thoughts surfaced. Thoughts like “if I get skinny, I am going to be popular” and “if I get skinny, I’m going to get a boyfriend.” That was probably the nail in the coffin - I officially had a big problem. It was because of those thoughts that I started starving myself, attempting to throw up, looked into dieting pills, etc. My eating disorder went from a pet to a monster that took me ten years to defeat.
I’m not blaming anyone. I take full responsibility for everything that happened to me. It wasn’t that coach, it wasn’t the popular girls, it wasn’t my mom. It was me. I don’t want that coach to be fired. He probably doesn’t even remember or know what he did.
After all these years, I think I finally figured out what I “did wrong” during volleyball. I am not good under pressure. So the fact that I had to fight for my spot was never going to bring out the best in me. In that way, I would have never been a phenomenal player. I also believe that I played better when people believed in me. In that way, the person I needed to believe in me was the coach.
In conclusion, I think teens and young adults are easily influenced. You may never realize how much impact you have. If I had transferred schools or had a different coach or decided to quit volleyball after freshman year, things might have been different. It’s simple really. You can make a difference even if you only play a small part in a person’s life.
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