Saturday, February 21, 2009

Something a Little Different...

So, this blog is going to be way different from what I've been posting lately, so if you want to just skip on past it, I completely understand. I've been debating back and forth now for an hour on whether or not to post's just something so, so personal about myself that it makes me so vulnerable to post.

February 22-28th is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and when I found out the date, I thought that it was such an important topic and part of my life that I couldn't just ignore it and post about the usual things I love to blog about.

Growing up, I lived a pretty privileged life - which was a double- edged sword. Because my mom is a surgeon and my father is a pretty big businessman, it meant that for a long time, I didn't really have either parent in my life. My mom was constantly in the city working, and my dad was always overseas on business trips. My brother and I were raised by a stream of au pairs and nannies, until my mom finally resigned from her position at the hospital. My dad was home maybe once or twice every two weeks before jetting off to Europe or Japan to "seal that last deal," which was a phrase I knew all too well by that point.

While my mom was home now, she and I didn't have a close relationship where I could really confide in her about things. We don't have much in common, and it became this huge wall between us, so as I continued getting older and becoming more self conscious, I felt like I had absolutely no one to turn to and confide in.

Our elementary school ended in fourth grade, so as fifth graders, we moved on to the middle school, which was so terrifying. It was at that point when girls started getting boyfriends and popularity was becoming more and more important. I had a good group of friends, but totally longed to belong to the popular crowd, which was comprised of all the "beautiful girls" (which honestly, who really is gorgeous in middle school?!). I was SUCH an ugly duckling back then - awkward, big glasses, bad hair (in the in between stages of growing out my bangs), bad skin - and was just trying to fit in any way I could. I would come home from school just feeling so ugly and so gross about myself every single day. Also during that time, my parents were constantly at each others' throats - my mom was pissed that my dad was never home, my dad was stressed out about negotiations and had no time to listen to my mom, and neither of them were getting along.

It felt like my life was completely spinning out of control so fast, and there was nothing I could do to make it any better or easier. I woke up every morning and was still the same, awkward girl that I always had been, my parents still fought (when my dad was actually home, which was rare), and I was still unpopular. Honestly, I don't even remember when during fifth grade it began, but I do remember that every day during lunch, I would throw away my sandwich that my mom had packed for me. That began the slippery slope it took to get me into full blown anorexia. Before I knew it, food had started to completely control my life - but it was "good" because I actually had the control. I decided when I could and couldn't eat - what I put into my body, everything. For a confused pre-teen girl with no control over any other aspect of my life, it was pretty comforting. I won't go into specifics of how I hid it for so long, because I know how triggering that can be, but let's just say I was very, very sneaky.

This continued through the years, progressing immensely. At the end of sixth grade, my parents yanked me from public school and put me in a private school, which just made the problems worse, because now I was torn from my familiar environment and thrown into something completely new. My new friends at private school didn't understand why I never ate lunch, avoided bagels at "bagel break," and wouldn't come out to dinner with them... I began isolating myself further and further, sinking more into my depression than ever. Since my dad was rarely home, he never wanted to spend any of the actual time he was there to pick fights with me over eating habits, and my mom was too oblivious to really notice a problem. Gradually though, they began to notice and take note of my eating habits. They confronted me constantly, and I always shot them down and said that they were never around, so how would they have a clue what I ate when they weren't home. One thing about having an eating disorder - you become a brilliant liar, probably because you have to constantly convince yourself that you're okay and you're doing nothing wrong to your body.

It wasn't until the summer before ninth grade, when at 5'5 1/2" I weighed 84 lbs. that my parents knew that no matter how hard I protested that something was wrong, they needed to intervene. I was checked into a program for girls with anorexia, and spent the entire summer in the program, learning "coping mechanisms" and the cold hard facts about the disease. I came out of it with a completely new perspective, new diet plan, and a fifteen pound weight gain. My progress lasted about a month, until another family issue came up, and I reverted back again - but this time not to anorexia, which my parents knew the signs for, but bulimia.

Bulimia is much harder to pinpoint, because the weight does not have a dramatic loss - rather weight just stays the same. For another year, I spent a good percentage every day throwing up anything I had eaten - it got so bad that I could no longer use my swollen/bruised knuckles to force things up, and moved on to swallowing medicine to help me throw up. When my parents found out what I had been doing (especially since prolonged use of this particular medicine leads to heart failure), they sent me to another rehab facility - and this one was no picnic. Someone had to be with me every minute of the day - I had to eat whatever was served to me, someone followed me to the bathroom, no magazines, books, or tv was allowed except for approved materials, which were all anti eating disorder films and books. It was the worst experience of my life, and it lasted for two and a half intense, intense months. When I came out though, I had new ways of coping, numbers to call if I was triggered, and had to see a therapist three times a week - all which were in a contract I had to sign upon my release.

I was "cured" in the fact that I maintained a healthy weight, kept gaining weight and made enormous progress with the therapist, who got to the bottom of what was going on with me. At the same time, even now, five years later, I struggle with food every single day. Every day is a fight to stay on the same page, to know when I'm overdoing it or under doing it, and it's really scary. I also have health problems which result from this, that may or may not come back to haunt me later in life.

Moi, looking terrible, two weeks after my second rehab stint (thank God my parents did not let me get a tattoo at that point!):

I now try and tell my story whenever I can, because although it was one of the most painful times in my life, there is definitely no telling how many other people are going through something similar. It's so important to be on the lookout, especially with your friends - after I got help, so many people said to me, "Well, it was obvious there was something wrong with you, but we didn't want to upset you by accusing you of anything." While each case is obviously very different and the reasons behind it are so numerous, but I know that with me, I was looking for people to care about me and help me. There are often so many warning signs that are served as a means of reaching out.

If you want to talk more about this subject, feel free to ask me for my email address!

Anyway, I'm sorry to get soo personal with you all, thank you for letting me indulge. I love you all, you're fantastic, and pleaseee enjoy your weekends!


amynicola_ox said...

allison wow!
honestly, i started crying reading this. this is the most heartfelt and honest blog post ive ever read - you're so brave to write this, it mustve been a cathartic exercise. i'm so proud that you've come such a long way, it shows what a strong girl you truly are! it's great to learn more about people, and i respect you even more now - if yu ever need to talk girl i'm here.

Lindsay said...

Wow! It's so nice of you to share your story as there are soo many girls in the same situation. I can only imagine the difficulties you have overcome and continue with. Thanks so much for sharing!

La Couturier said...

This post was really touching & heartfelt. I really do applaud you for writing ALL of this; I do think it's so brave of you & revisit the past in telling us all your story for the world to hear. So thank you for sharing!

I had two friends who had gone through the same exact situation; parents were rarely home or didn't care; things with boys never worked out, and eventually they became depressed, anorexic & then bulemic, and even to the point of cutting themselves. I was so heartbroken watching this happen even though I had, everyday, talked to them. Eventually a few friends & I told her parents because we were getting scared; thank goodness it's all in the past now.

La C.

Keith said...

Hey Allison. Thank you so much for sharing that. I've only recently started coming to your blog. I've really enjoyed what you've been posting here. This post touched me so much. Hugs. I'm glad that you made it through this. I've known several girls who have suffered from an eating disorder. One of them didn't survive. This has always been something that has bothered me. I've been someone who has always struggled with my weight. I'll lose lots of weight and then gain it all back. Most of the time I gain back more. Right now I'm in one of those stages of being overweight. It really hurts me when I look into the mirror. I've had times that I stopped eating. It was hard because I love food. Plus when I'm stressed out, I love to eat. I never got to the point where I really had an eating disorder myself. I guess I couldn't stay away from food that long or something. I have my issues with weight and food. Thanks again for sharing this with us. I wish you the best in your struggles. Take care. Good luck.

francie said...

its really brave of you to post all that up.
god i just don't know what to do.
but I do appreciate you always leaving such nice comments on my blog :)
best of luck,
you seem to be a great person.

captivateme said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing with us. I really appreciated your candor and I'm positive that your story will help readers who are also struggling. Although each day you feel remains a struggle, you've come such a long way and you definitely deserve to recognized for that! HUG!! :-)

Couture Carrie said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, darling! It is a difficult and taboo subject in the fashion world, and many of us have suffered from anorexia and/or bulimia and are afraid to talk about it. You are brave my dear and I am so glad you are able to share your pain with others so that we can all attempt to heal and grow.


P.S. I am having a contest on my blog today if you want to stop by :)

Nicole Linette said...

Alison, this post was so amazingly honest and courageous to write. I commend and thank you for posting this, you're helping whoever reads.
How difficult, growing up with everything but still hurting on the inside. You've come this far though, so keep at it. Silly as this sounds, though I'm hundreds of miles away and five years younger, I will be behind you.


yiqin; said...

We love you too <3333

molly said...

allison, wow, you are so brave to be sharing this. you've been through a lot and you are clearly a very strong person.
my respect for you has grown while reading this post (and i already respected you a lot to start out with!)
im so glad that you feel more in control now because i've seen picture so i can fully attest that you are gorgeous!

•¦Amy¦• said...

It's amazing of you to share that story. It's a touchy topic even for those who haven't delt with it personally!

Growing up taking ballet, and go after it as a career has made me so aware of what can happen if you go to far. I've had friends who've gone to extremes to stay thin, and it's damaging. For me it's always been the temptation...the thought that maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I had an eating dissorder, that I could control it enough to stay healty, but no one can do that. I've never been the skinniest girl at my studio so it's a struggle for me. I'll feel guilty about certain things I eat, but I know deep down that I shouldn't.

Thank you so much for posting this, because people need to become more aware about stuff like this. Heck I needed to become more aware. You're so brave and caring to post about something so personal!

<3 <3 <3

Jocelyn said...

Thank you for posting this, i'm sure it wasn't easy to talk about. I know a few of my friends have struggled with eating disorders, and the sad part is that I had no idea until it was too late for me to help. I think we all need to be aware of the signs and help those around us feel comfortable with in their own shoes!
Thanks Allison!

-joce :)

Bella said...

Sometimes, being vulernable to circumstances significant in our lives helps us unveil that certain balance we spend so much time searching for...

There's such emotional intensity and raw honesty to this post, and I adore you for finding the courage to post it.


La Couturier said...

Aw; You always leave the sweetest comments. Thank you! =]

La C.

Kastina said...

Ooh I like your blog...I was just cruizin around blogs...and I happend on yours- very nice. You have one of my favorite fashion pictures ever!! The girl in the blue/teal dress standing on the stairs.

captivateme said...

P.S darling check my blog for your award--you may have to scroll down a bit (it was yesterday but I do multiple posts a day)!

Elizabeth Marie said...

You're incredible, I've been there too. I dont know if I would have the guts to share like this.

I've been trying to comment you for DAYS but blogger has been lame.

I adore you, you're fabulous...thank you for sharing that.

Hanako66 said...

thank you for sharing your is amazing of you to allow others to reach out to you and for you to have the courage to discuss it.

dapper kid said...

My dear, this was such a brave and inspiring post, you are simply amazing. Thank you so much for posting this. My weight has always been an issue, I was born with a life long medical condition and have never been in the 'normal' weight catergory. I used to hate school, I was bullied throughout for being so underweight, but I guess it is those experiences that make us stronger and also that much kinder to others. Seriously dear, your writing was beautiful :)

Crazy Eddie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crazy Eddie said...

Thanks for letting me into your life with such bravery and class. You are an amazing woman Allison.

Without the down times in our lives we surely cannot appreciate the good. Intelligent, emotional people tend to be the ones who are affected with similar issues in life, whether it be your personal situation, or drug abuse (self-medicating), or various other things which numb some sort of inner-demon. Life can be very overwhelming and the more intelligent you are the more aware you are - ergo, that much more affects you.

So happy you overcame it and are at a better place in your life.

Much love Allison darling.

Besos para siempre
(cyber hug)