What I Wish My Teachers Knew About My Eating Disorder


It isn’t that I was losing the motivation to succeed, or was becoming lazier in the course of my high school career. I wasn’t lying down in class because I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. I didn’t skip your classes because I didn’t care. I didn’t sit in the bathroom because I thought I was above the whole “school thing.” I was in the midst of a battle with anorexia.

I was losing the motivation to live, as every day I was living on a 24 ounce coffee and a granola bar until I got home at night. I was convinced my disorder was my fault, and everything I ever did to try and fix it was never enough to get the job done. I couldn’t receive proper treatment, of course, until the middle of my senior year when I practically disappeared. I didn’t have a will to live, or a will to continue. I didn’t think I had a reason to.

I wasn’t becoming lazier, if anything I was becoming more stressed, with SAT’s on the horizon, a plethora of leadership positions in my pocket and a full load of classes, my hypothetical gas pedal was on the floor. I remember distinctly the night I came to terms with my disorder. I was getting ready for a school event I was volunteering for. I realized what I had been doing to my body and was so disconnected from that fact, I barely bothered to eat, after only eating a small amount earlier that day.

Yet, I knew something was wrong. My weakness and dizziness were the very beginning signs of the disorder that would pull me under and hold me tight. I put my head down on the desk so I wouldn’t fall asleep, sitting up from the lack of nutrition I was receiving. Yes, I wasn’t sleeping, but I also wasn’t eating. So my brain wasn’t learning.

I remember most of my days were spent moderately conscious, practically stumbling from class to class, as a result of my dizziness. I should’ve been hospitalized significantly earlier than I was; yet amazingly, I managed to come out of that school year with perfect attendance. Of course, that check mark only means I was present and on time each day of the year, but my ability to actually be attentive was gone. I don’t remember a solid time block of the school year, for about three months or so. I know I was there, but that is all I can recall.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

I skipped classes because I couldn’t manage sitting in a room full of people talking so negatively, or thinking only about diets. I was too anxious to work on projects surrounded by others. So instead, I sat in the hallway to complete my work, where it was mostly silent and I was mostly alone. Some classes I showed up for a mere five minutes, spending the remaining forty wandering around the school building just trying to find something to keep my mind off the sounds my stomach wouldn’t quit making.

I skipped my lunch to go to art, and skipped my art class to just sit in an empty room. I was isolating myself, and I didn’t want anyone to care. I remember well the winter months I spent sitting in the bathroom. As you know, our uniform was a kilt with a button down shirt. The days I came to school in the darkest parts of my disease, I was wearing my kilt with a sweater and a blazer, as well as thick tights and a pair of socks. I slept in the bathroom on the second floor on top of the radiator, just to feel the warmth come through my blazer and tights.

I would tap the person next to me in class before I went, telling them if I didn’t return in the next 10 minutes, then they should probably come and find me to come back to class. I would lay there to inhale the warmth, to try to warm the pain inside me that was my anorexia and resulting depression. I wanted to be back in the classroom with you and my peers more than anything, but my mind kept me wandering, leaving me unfocused and hazed.

I want you to know the days I spent in the midst of my anorexia were not easy, but I apologize for seeming so inattentive and lazy. I wanted to tell all of you so badly, but I was afraid of the reaction you would give me. I figured you knew something was up, and if you saw the red lines across my arms, then you were probably concerned. I didn’t mean to worry you.

For the ones who asked and expressed care, I want to thank you. I didn’t want anyone to care because if I let people care, then I would have to stop wrecking havoc on my body. If I forcibly pushed you away, then I’m sorry.

I was asked to fill out a survey once, of something that I wish my teacher knew, and here is mine: I wish you knew that all of the times I was so out of it, that it wasn’t me. It was my anorexia, and I let it get in the way of my education. But, I also want you to know if you have other students that come after me in this position, I hope you will treat them as kindly as you treated me.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Anorexia Nervosa

illustration of woman's face, partly covered by hair

What Eating Disorder Recovery Actually Looks Like

First, let me set one thing straight: I did not choose anorexia. Anorexia chose me. I didn’t know what an eating disorder was until I had one. I believe that in my case, anorexia was a manifestation of screwed-up chemicals in my brain, triggering events that may have happened in my past and/or genetics. Anorexia [...]

20 Insights From Someone in Anorexia Recovery

Disclaimer: This article is based on my story and research that resonates with my personal experiences during my illness and recovery process. It is in no way intended to apply to everyone who has anorexia or another eating disorder. Although numbers aren’t really mentioned, I would like to also warn against triggers to anyone currently [...]
Sadness lonely girl walking in forest,

When My Eating Disorder Feels Like a Bad Horror Movie

I’m sitting on my couch and watching a girl on the run. She’s being followed by something – a predator that doesn’t jump out at her from the dark, but instead walks slowly, which is somehow creepier. I already know what’s going to happen. I know what she needs to do to save herself, and [...]
Watercolor painting of a girl who closed her eyes

To the Eating Disorder That Followed Me Through High School

To the feet that clenched the scale in glory with every pound that melted away. To the reflection in the mirror that silently screamed “worthless,” compelling me to believe beauty was a mere 6 stone on the scale. To the warped voice inside my head once so powerful, drowning out all family cries to “just eat.” [...]