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My First Summer Living With An Anorexic

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During our first meal together that summer, it was evident: something had changed. After spending all day cooking our favorite meal, home made Italian sauce, meatballs, spaghetti, garlic bread and salad, there was no response when she walked in the door. Usually as soon as Meg smelled my Italian sauce she would say, “Oh the kitchen smells so wonderful. Can I taste the sauce; can I steal a meatball?” But she said nothing.

Traditionally when we have a spaghetti dinner, I always filled our dishes from the stove, but Meg asked to fill her own plate for the first time. I watched as she artfully placed about ten strands of spaghetti, a tablespoon of sauce and one small meatball around her plate so they took up as much room as possible. She claimed she’d eaten during the ride home. At my prompting, she had what amounted to three tablespoons of salad, no dressing or garlic bread.

It was painful to witness Meg as she rearranged the food on her plate to mimic eating. She acted as if she’d rather be anywhere else in the world but at our kitchen table eating her formerly favorite meal. Since it was her first meal at home, I hated to start nagging. But what I had thought would be a celebration, of Meg’s return home from college and the beginning of summer, turned into the first meal of our summer of combat.

The next morning Meg wanted to go summer job hunting, since the New England schools got out later than the schools in the South, and she was afraid all the good jobs would be taken. When I asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she said she’d get something on the way. She wanted to get an early start. Meg came home after lunch discouraged; there were no jobs, never mind good jobs. She said she went all over but many businesses wouldn’t even let her fill out an application. It was 1991, during President George H. W. Bush’s administration, and the economy was terrible like ours is now due to his son.

People who had well-paid careers were working at jobs that were normally taken by high school or college kids. Meg said she had eaten out and now wanted to go to the base gym.

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January 15, 2012 - 5:58am
EmpowHER Guest

I am an anorexic. I have been since I was ten years old. When I turned fourteen, I got to my breaking point, and was told by doctors and therapists that there was no cure, that I would battle this forever, and it scared me enough to learn (subconsciously) how to cover it up and justify to myself that I was fine. Now, eight years after my initial "recovery", I am back where I started, I relapsed. And it took a very special man in my life to make me see it. When I finally mustered up the courage to ask for help, I was given the most important book that has ever been put into my hands, and it is the single thing that drove me to save my own life from this debilitating and torturous disease. The most important thing for society to start realizing, is that anorexics are neither vain nor selfish, actually it's quite the opposite. We are people with a mental disease that carries the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness. Does it even make sense to assume that someone is vain when they are doing everything they possibly can to slowly kill themselves? NO. This disease takes over the rational mind and replaces it with negative, self-destructing thoughts that are almost impossible to detour from even the most intelligent, gifted and selfless people in this world. It infects the people involved. It destroys families, and against all odds, it is possible to be free of this horrific disorder, it just takes patience and a never ending flow of unconditional love from the people surrounding a victim of anorexia. The book that saved, and is still saving my life and giving me hope is called "The secret Language of eating disorders by Peggy Claude-Pierre. This woman's words gave me the strength, hope and determination to seek treatment before I lost a grip on everything I love, my kids, my partner, and most importantly, my own life and happiness. I recommend it to anyone who has someone in their life that is being tortured by this disease, and kudos to anyone who has had the misfortune of seeing someone suffer through this, and had to deal with the bizzare, irrational and mysterious behaviors of this disease. I love myself finally.

June 25, 2011 - 3:51am

It is nice that you share your experience with empowher because it will also help the other people to understand the problems and sufferings one faces due to this kind of a disorder through your article. I really feel proud of you. Eating Disorder may be one of the dangerous forms of addiction, but it is not that difficult to be treated. It has many possibilities to be cured. Keep on taking all the possible steps of providing medications and counseling for your daughter and i am sure she will be alright and lead a happy life later.
All the best for all the efforts you take for your daughter.

October 22, 2009 - 11:19pm
EmpowHER Guest

What part of Hampton are you from? I guess that question isn't going to give me much information since I'm more of a Newport News girl. I've only been familiarizing myself with Hampton for two and a half years.
I really enjoy reading your stories, by the way. I check every week to see if you've updated.

July 31, 2009 - 4:01pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I appreciate your checking in to read my about my daughter's battle with anorexia. They are very hard for me to write, but I should have another article in this week.
Mary S

August 3, 2009 - 5:13am

Mary - I'm hoping to hear about a positive turn in Meg's behavior. As she's surrounded by medical professionals where she works, perhaps someone will be able to crack her wall of denial and turn her around.

You've done what you thought you should. All the best to you.

July 8, 2009 - 6:19pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for sharing this with us.

July 8, 2009 - 5:58pm


I guess it's our own human nature to find fault in ourselves when we can't control the outcome of events. We look for ways that we could have. Somehow, some way, we could have changed the course of history had we only done this, had we only concentrated on that.

My best friend's niece was killed when a semi-truck driver with brakes that had not been maintained slammed into the family car on the highway. The driver was arrested and is in jail; the trucking company was found liable and was massively fined; the brakes were found to not only have not been maintained, but they had been tied up out of the way. It was a horrible state of affairs, and the trucking company was clearly responsible.

But do you know that to this day, the niece's father (who was driving at the time) still runs the what-ifs, and still feels like if he hadn't chosen that road, or if he hadn't decided where they would eat lunch, Beth would still be here. He blames himself for not being able to protect his daughter. (And the reality is that it is amazing the rest of them even got out alive.)

What you're doing -- writing about this -- is teaching others to not trust the lies, to not go easy, to be active and assertive when a loved one has anorexia. That's amazing, and brave, and very generous of you. You are helping other people. My hope for you is that you can do it without guilt.

July 8, 2009 - 8:30am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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