“I Will Survive”: My Ongoing Battle With An Eating Disorder
EDNOS and OSFED. Over the past few years, these two acronyms have been hurled at me like knives into my chest, almost every single day. By doctors all over Massachusetts, by my family, and by my close friends. EDNOS, otherwise known as- Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. EDNOS, is defined by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders as “a person that may present with many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa but will not meet the full criteria for diagnosis of these disorders”. OSFED, known as Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder, and now, the new and proper diagnosis for EDNOS.
Senior year of high school, September of 2013. Everything was great. I had amazing friends, and one more year left of high school before I would be attending the college of my dreams. I was a High Honors student, Secretary of my senior class, Secretary of our chapter of the National Honors Society, Editor of the Yearbook, on Quiz Team, on Helping Hands, and in Photography Club. I was having the time of my life, doing everything that I loved to do. Little did I know of the uphill battle that I would be enduring, that school year.
In February of 2014, I ordered my dress for Prom. It was custom from online, so I needed to provide my exact weight and measurements for the company. I remember weighing myself at 120 lbs, and adding that I was a size 4 in pants. I never wanted to lose weight in order for my dress to fit me better, but I did tell myself over and over again that I couldn’t gain weight, either. I needed the dress to fit me like a glove, because, after all, it was my last Prom ever.
In March of 2014, I started skipping meals to make sure I didn't gain more weight. First it was breakfast, “the most important meal of the day”, as they say. I went from eating cereal, toast, and fruit each morning before school, to waking up later so that I wouldn’t feel compelled to eat anything, because I simply would not have the time. This went on for about a week before I started skipping snack too. I was “mom” to my friends in high school, they all knew to come to my locker first if they needed something to eat, because more likely than not, I would have not just one snack for them, but I would have an array of things to choose from. I stopped bringing any and all snacks to school.
In April of 2014, I began to realize that I just was not hungry anymore. So I started skipping lunch too. I was known for normally bringing a five-course meal to lunch each day, but most days now, I would just bring a small container of applesauce or Jell-O, which would fill my stomach until dinner. For dinner, I would have a very small serving of rice with soup broth in it, but most nights, I would only eat two or three bites before I was completely full. As I said before, it was never purposeful, but I had shrunk my stomach so much that I could not eat anything without feeling like I was going to throw up. So, essentially, I was starving myself without knowing it.
In the beginning of May of 2014, I was at an unrelated check-up doctor’s appointment. When I arrived, the nurse weighed me, and the scale read 105 lbs. The doctor came in only a few short minutes later and immediately questioned my dramatic weight loss, since two months earlier she had weighed me at 120, and now I was at 105 (I was also in a size 0 in jeans at this point, so I had gone down three pants sizes). I did not have an answer for the doctor. She questioned my eating habits, and made an accusation. “Morgan, you may not have an eating disorder, but you definitely have a disorder in your eating”, I will always remember her saying to me. Then, she quickly changed her tone. “Morgan, are you starving yourself?!” she said to me as she looked down at my stomach and clearly protruding ribs. I was astonished, and I refused to believe it. How could she accuse me of something like this? I kept the harsh judgement to myself, and swept the whole appointment under the rug. I didn’t tell a single soul. Prom was three weeks away, and I would get back to my normal eating habits after Prom, I told myself.
A few days later, my Prom dress arrived in the mail! I immediately tried it on, so excited to see what it looked like, when I put it on. I zipped it up, let go of the zipper, and it completely fell off of me. After paying for a custom dress, I had to pay again to get it taken in. I spent the entire Prom trying to hold up a dress that was still much to big for me, even though it was taken in to be a size 0. A few days after Prom, I began to eat normal meals again, and I realized that my body physically couldn’t take it. I spent many days in the rest of the month of May throwing up every last thing that I would try to put into my stomach.
June of 2014 was when I hit rock bottom. I was so depleted and weak every single day that all I could do would be lay on the couch and sleep. I lived on only small amounts of water for that entire month, because small sips of water was the only thing that my stomach could handle. Since my body was not getting the nutrients it needed to live, my organs were in the beginnings of shutting down. I woke up one morning at the end of June in a full-blown panic attack because I couldn’t breathe (my lungs were beginning to shut down), but I was so weak that I couldn’t move, I finally got up the courage to tell my parents, who of course took me to the hospital immediately. I was put into a recovery program and I was told that I would not be going to college in two months.
I continued in my recovery program for the rest of June, all of July, and all of August of 2014. By the end of August, I was up to 110 lbs, which was a huge improvement from 100 lbs. A week before school was to begin, I got amazing news from my parents and doctors team that I was going to be allowed to go to school, after all! This was as long as I was having weekly “weigh-ins” with the Health Center on campus, which would be sent to my team back home, and I needed to continue to gain weight, not lose weight. If I had begun to lose weight again, I would have been pulled out of my dream college and sent back home to the recovery program as soon as possible.
I poured my heart and soul into making sure that I would never have to leave my dream school to go back to the recovery program. I expanded my stomach again, meal by meal, until I could handle three average meals again. This consisted of me feeling sick for overfilling my stomach, many days, but I am here to say: it worked.
What I was diagnosed with is different. I do not have classic anorexia symptoms where I see my body as distorted or see myself as overweight when I look in the mirror. I do not have classic bulimia symptoms where I feel the need to exercise excessively, or binge and purge to “lose the weight”. Since I never saw myself as overweight, or needing to lose weight, I was diagnosed with OSFED. OSFED is known as the “silent but deadly” eating disorder, and it is also the most common. OSFED, with a mortality rate of 5.2%, is higher than that of Anorexia or Bulimia.
I am incredibly lucky to be alive. I thank God each and every day for the strength it took for me to get help, because clearly He was telling me that it was not my time yet. I am alive because I refused to let this terrible disease take my life in June of 2014. I can happily say that as of February of 2016, I am 125 lbs. It has been a long road to get here, but I still have so much longer to go. Although I am in recovery, that does not mean that my OSFED is gone forever. This is something that I will now have to deal with for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for my amazing support system, who know this part of me, and accept me anyways, you all know who you are ❤️
To everyone reading: Thank you for letting me share my story with you, I hope that in some small way, this impacts your life. If you ever notice a family member or friend in trouble the same way that I was, I urge you to get them help as soon as possible. You might just be saving their life.
Remember: Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about, so be kind. Always.
Love & Light,