Today was my "big day". I spoke at my former high school for the unLearn assembly.
I have never felt so nervous, so proud and so strong all at the same time.
I felt myself shaking a little, as I stood there in front of the 300+ students and faculty. But still, I managed to raise my voice and make sure every word I spoke was heard. That has always been a challenge for me, speaking loud enough and clearly enough to be heard. So often, I think I felt afraid of what I was saying and insecure as to whether or not I should have been speaking. So this, this was huge. I can't remember everything I said - I know I gave a brief history of my life in the past six years. I told them about how when I was in high school, there was a girl who spoke on that stage at the same assembly, how I identified so much with her but I had myself convinced that it wasn't ever going to be me, that I wouldn't get like that. Then I told them how not even six months after that assembly, I was hospitalized and missed more than half of my junior year. During that hospitalization, my heart stopped in my chest during the night. I died in my sleep at sixteen years old, and had to be resuscitated. I described how I awoke to the defribillator charging, my room mate screaming, lights shining in my eyes, and about how I still returned that September as a senior, about the same weight I am now, and dropped XX pounds during the course of the year. I had to beg and plead to be allowed to finish off my year and not be pulled out for another round of inpatient. I almost didn't even go to my graduation - I was too afraid of walking across that field in front of everyone, all the people who teased, who made comments. I had to grin and bear it for my mother's sake so I went. I gained X pounds during the summer so I could go off to college - best art school in the country with a $16,000 scholarship. Literally, within three weeks I had lost XX pounds and was deemed a medical liability to have on campus. I tried to fix it myself while I was there, but I would literally make a plate of food and stare at it for an hour instead of eating it. One time, I got so frustrated, I threw an apple across the room, out the door and into the dorm acorss the hall. Spent a year trying to get my weight up, but it really wasn't enough. So I went to HCC instead, and lost my spot at Pratt. By January 2008, my relapse was in full swing. I tried to get myself hospitalized, and it took me six hours of phone calls, calling every program and hospital on the east coast before finding one that would admit me. Over a dozen places, and everyone said I was "too sick to be helped" or that I was "too severe for their facilities." I finally found a place that would admit me, but after three weeks they too deemed me "unable to be helped" and tranferred me to another hospital. I was there for nearly three months. After I came home, again at the same weight I am now, I dropped XX pounds in six weeks - the most amount of weight I had ever lost and in the shortest span of time. I described that morning, June 3, 2008. I described getting on the scale over and over again because I was in disbelief, and how when I finally looked at myself in the mirror I saw for the first time how sick I had become. I told them about the obsessiveness - staying up all hours of the night to exercise in secret, and how little I allowed myself to eat during the day. At my worst - I was considering 2TBS of dry bran flakes, 1/3 of a wedge of canteloupe and 2oz of Diet Coke an entire day's worth of food. And then, even that felt like too much. I told them about the relationships that deteriorated, the things I lost in addition to weight - my spirit, my sense of self-worth, my oppurtunites, my friends. I answered a lot of questions, a lot of questions. My mom came up - she had been hiding in the audience (she works there in the library) and we spoke together, answering more questions about how and why this happened, what had it done to me physically, etc.
Afterwards - my former class advisor and administrators gave me hugs, as well as the nurse (whom I ate lunch with everyday as a senior) all gave me huge hugs, telling me how fantastic I was - that I seemed so much stronger and confident and that the were so glad I decided to speak. Nothing has ever made me feel so good. My former-best friend's younger brother was there, in the audience too. He came up to me after and hugged me, told me I was beautiful and that he was so glad to see me alive again.
When my mom came home, she couldn't stop telling me all the good things people had to say - some of her students told her they thought I was amazing and that I really helped a lot of people. Her coworkers said that my words were powerful, and that I really sent a shock through everyone. Of course, people couldn't help but comment on my new appearance to her as well. Apparently, at least a dozen of the people she works with told her I looked wonderful/great/beautiful/any other pertaining adjective. I am trying to hold this in my mind as all positive, even if ED wants to scream "you gained weight!" Because you know what, ED? I DID gain weight. And it was the right thing to do for myself, it is what I had to do to survive. Even still, it was a medical improbability for me to have lived through these years due to how severely low my weight got, and the fact that every relapse brought an even lower low. I felt proud of myself in so many ways today, and so happy to know I had helped even just one person (which I did - a girl is worried her sister is developing an ED and asked me about how she should go about helping her, etc. I really hope I said the right things, and that she has the courage to talk to her family)
And, to go with the wonderous day today - I decided I needed to treat myself and have a few favorites:
Breakfast: Bircher-muesli! Oats soaked overnight in vanilla soymilk, mixed in the AM with a full-fat pear yogurt,1/2 chopped apple, almonds and topped with pb and banana. I had the rest of my apple on the side with some cream cheese and cinnamon. And a glass of juice as always. I love my muesli, though I wil admit it was a *wee* bit cold this morning. But enjoyable nonetheless. I used to soak the oats in water, but it truly gets so much creamier soaked in soy milk.
Snack: Fage 2% with golden raisins, almonds and some honey <3 Had this pre-speech.
Lunch: I came home to have a nice natural peanut butter and marmalade sammie made with sprouted grain bread, nuked in the microwave to warm me up on this chilly afternoon. And I so foolishly wanting to feel pretty - wore my favorite freepeople sweater dress (got it at Marshalls for $12! hooray!) I did feel pretty though, so it was worth it. Oh, I also had green beans and tomato with seasoned cottage cheese for dip (read: mixed with salad dressing).
Snack: Stonyfield vanilla yogurt with strawberries and blackberry jam.
Dinner: Bulgur wheat with roasted red pepper hummus, olive oil, sweet peas and corn topped with raw firm tofu. Also had a side of semi-stir fried broccoli ( I take it off the stove before it gets anywhere near soft, I like my veggies to crunch)
Snack: 5-grain hot cereal cooked with brown sugar, cinnamon, cinnamon roll coffee cream and canned pumpkin topped with flaked coconut. I haven't had pumpkin and coconut in AGES. But ooh, still love it.
I hope everyone had as good a Monday as I did!
5 weeks ago