After years of taunting and teasing by the other kids at school (who always seemed to assume that being fat also made you stupid, in addition to being ugly), I developed an eating disorder. It started out innocently at first: cutting down to 1500 calories a day, keeping a food journal, increasing my exercise, but soon it got out of hand. I was consuming NO MORE than 500 calories a day, and my poor dog nearly collapsed from the long, arduous walks I was taking him on (after which I would put him back in the yard, and proceed to exercise MORE). I was fairly proficient at hiding my low calorie intact from my parents, so they thought I was eating a healthy diet, though somewhat reduced in nature.
Naturally, I started losing weight. I lost three pounds in my first week. The next week it was four. My doctors, who had always chided me for being overweight (even going so far as to insinuate that my mother, who is heavy due to thyroid problems, was overfeeding me), were thrilled.
“Keep it up!” one responded joyously as I stepped off the scale. Never once did they stop to tell me that losing more than a pound and a half in a week was dangerous.
Three months later, I had lost enough to take me from a size 16 to a size 8. When the size 8 pants that my mother had just bought me started getting baggy, she began to scrutinize my eating habits a little more closely. Finally, the last straw came when we were in J.C. Penney trying on new clothes. My mother gasped as I was taking off my shirt.
“I can see your vertebrae!” she exclaimed. “And your ribs!” Three days later, I was back at the doctor, thought this time it was a different doctor, one who didn’t smile and nod approvingly as I described my exercise routine and my eating habits. With her help, I was able to see that what I was doing was *not* ok, and finally started re-learning to feed myself. Due to the fact that my eating was SO disordered, even for a short period of time, I no longer knew when I was full. Thus, I gained a significant amount of weight, though not anything that my doctor was worried with. I was back to just above my pre-anorexia weight.
Now, jump forward about 5 years to my Junior year of college. I was receiving my birth control from the local health department that was near my school. Because I was overweight, they monitored my blood pressure to make sure that I wasn’t at risk of a stroke or blood clot. After about 6 months of being on the new BC they had prescribed me (which I told them was the wrong dosage for me, since I had been on a low-dosage BC pill before switching to the new one), my blood pressure started going up. WAY up.
Instead of reacting rationally, and switching me to a low-dose BC, they immediately took me off the pill, and refused to give me anymore until I “lost some of that weight.” I explained, as I had done several times before, that I was a recovering anorexic (one never truly becomes a “former” anorexic), and losing weight was not an easy thing for me to do, as the chances of backsliding into my old habits were very high. I received a stern lecture on the dangers of being overweight, and was then handed a paper bag full of condoms and booklets on weight loss. Conveniently, the pages on “over-eating” were turned down, so I could pay special attention to that.
I couldn’t say anything more to them. I simply went home, and after crying my eyes out for at least an hour, refused to eat for two days. Now, one of the side-effects that has lingered since my active bought with anorexia is hypoglycemia. If my fiance hadn’t forced me to eat something, my little encounter at the health department may very well have landed me in the hospital, comatose, or worse.
Not long after, I made the trip back home to see my primary care physician, who put me on the RIGHT dosage of birth control. (And, what do you know? I haven’t had high BP since. Strange, isn’t it?) When I told her about my experience, she hit the roof, and advised me to consult a lawyer for malpractice, which I never did. Thinking back, I probably should have, not for the money, but to teach that health department a lesson, in hopes that they would never again put another overweight girl or woman through what they put me through.