The eyes crawl down my spine. The eyes examine the bumps and ghost-like skin. Proceeding to turn around, our eyes meet. The stranger looks down.
I remember the stares. I remember my confusion. I remember living in my own world of disbelief and denial, out of touch with what others saw when they stared. Maybe others saw a 76-pound high school student with an appearance resembling that of a frail child. No matter how I was seen, I did not recognize any hint that would lead me to conclude that my mind and body were in poor health and out of sync. Oblivious. I was on my own planet, living in another world.
I was forced to return to Earth.
Like a meteor, I spiraled down and crashed. Although I did not bring myself back down to Earth, I picked up the pieces myself. I was helped to my knees, but learned that I had the power to bring myself to my feet.
Methods of coping and recovery are different for every eating disorder patient. My method was to dive into my passions and I found that life is worth living. I realized slowly that I would rather aspire to be an inspiration than become a skeleton. Anorexia definitely took a toll on me, but it did not defeat me.
Fostering positive body image and hope for recovery in others helps me stay healthy and not relapse. I know that in order to help others, I must help myself. Of course I still struggle sometimes, but it is more important to me to become a role model. I started a club called The Mirror Mission at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, NY in order to give teens the opportunity to spread positive body image and awareness for eating disorders in our community. I hardly knew what anorexia was before I was diagnosed with it. I had no clue that eating disorders were painful mental illnesses with devastating physical consequences, including death or infertility.
When I was in the hospital, my friends and family sent me stuffed animals and other gifts. Some eating disorder patients are not so lucky. I started a project called Cubs for Coping in order to provide eating disorder patients with handmade teddy bears. Each teddy bear is unique because no two eating disorder patients are the same. I love making these teddy bears because I know they will be needed. I hope they will provide support.
No longer do others stare at me and then look away. They make eye contact. People now see a girl who gets up from a crash standing tall.
The above article was originally posted on Maidelle.com, an online magazine for Jewish teen girls to speak their mind. Check out the site and read more articles and poetry submitted by girls worldwide and join the conversation!