I was 16 the first time I ever made myself throw up.
It was two weeks before my 17th birthday and my dad had invited all four of us kids over for dinner. My dad is really big into cooking and his dinners are basically seven-course meals. Everything he makes is so good and we always end up with food babies afterwards. I had been super disciplined about having very small meals because I was to go to London that summer and I knew I had to be super skinny. I don’t know if it was the mixed drinks that I was secretly pouring or if I was just overwhelmed by having my entire family in one room, but I definitely overate.
I checked myself out in the bathroom and was horrified. My skinny belly was protruding like a pregnant woman. I turn side to side and knew I had to get rid of it. I grabbed my toothbrush, knelt before the toilet, and tickled the back of my throat until I finally threw up. I didn’t really think anything of it as I washed my face and rejoined my family for a movie downstairs. As I was sitting on the couch with my sister, I realized how much better I felt and how easy it had been. It was a glorious revelation.
The next time I would do it again would be in late April. I had just baked a cake and had too much of the delicious batter so I immediately ran to my bathroom and once again stabbed at my tonsils using a toothbrush. Gone. Just like that. Amazing.
I weighed myself every day and was about 110 pounds around this time. I started purging about once a week and then finally twice a week. I liked being able to taste food without requiring any unwanted calories. I would chew twice then discreetly spit the food into a napkin or just throw it up right after. I was amazed that nobody caught on.
Finally, it was time to go to London. I was ecstatic with the way my body looked. I held my hipbones like trophies and counted the bones that stuck out on my chest. En route,I drank a ton of water so I wouldn’t bloat and I declined all of my airplane meals. I had made that mistake on one of my flights to Tokyo where I got off the plane looking like I weighed 10 pounds more, which is a big no-no. My Japanese agents were shocked when they saw me. I wanted to get to London looking like a twig so I paced around in the plane quite a bit and massaged my face so it wouldn’t be puffy upon arrival.
I hate hate hate London Heathrow airport. It’s the saddest place in the world to land. It’s grey everywhere and the customs people are assholes.
“Um… Wheh ah yoh parents?”, said a cockney woman behind the counter.
This greatly annoyed me because she had my fucking passport in her hand that stated I was there as an entertainer, which means you’re usually either a model or an actress. I was offended that she didn’t immediately assume that I was a model. I explained my working visa and even got out my contract to show her the company I was working with. She finally let me through with a sigh like she had just made a huge mistake.
I got my bag and found the driver who was scheduled to pick me up. Ugh, relief. He drove throughout London on the way to the agency and I snapped a million photos. It was rainy and depressing but the architecture made up for it. I was in awe of the many stone carved buildings and double-decker buses that I had only seen in movies.
He dropped me off at the agency and I lugged my carry-on bag up two flights of stairs. A friendly, vaguely Latino man, “L” , greeted me with a hug and smile at which I awkwardly reciprocated. He was my new agent.
The thing about having an eating disorder is that you become a very robotic person. All you can think about is how you look to others and if your thin enough, which you never really are in your own eyes. He asked me if I wanted anything to eat and I had told him that I just grabbed something at the airport and was full. I was quite fidgety and I could tell he thought I was weird because he kept just staring at me with somewhat furrowed brows.
“Well… You look amazing!”, L exclaimed, pulling me into another friendly embrace.
We made small talk and then he led me into another room where he took my digitals and measurements.
Just now, reading those numbers made my tailbone quiver. My measurements are now 34-25-35.
We took the train to my new apartment in Hackney. It was a three bedroom flat on Kings Road that a woman named Kate rented out. The other two bedrooms housed two college students and I had a room to myself! Score!!
I was informed that my roommates were on holiday so I had the place to myself for two weeks. I was so happy to have my own privacy. I was mostly relieved that they wouldn’t be able to hear me vomiting once a day. I began unpacking and hanging up my size-zero jeans with glee.
Since I lived in Hackney, I knew it was not the safest area at night so I was usually home and in bed by 8 or 9 PM. Since I ate very little and continued to throw up, I had barely any energy. You’re probably wondering how I didn’t die and it’s because even though I would bring up the bad things that I ate, I made sure to take many vitamins and drink 3 L of water a day.
A week into living there, I found a scale and hopped on. After converting stones to pounds, my jaw dropped. I was 102 pounds! I would lose my period for six months which did not bother me at all. When I stared into the mirror, I saw a beautiful, skeletal- looking, ballerina-esque girl. What I did not see was my hair thinning and falling out or my skin becoming more prone to cuts and bruises. I maintained my white teeth because I brushed about four times a day and constantly whitened.
I barely worked in London because I was so thin. On naturally thin girls, 102 pounds can look normal at 5’7.5″ but because my body is bigger, it looked scary. A couple clients began to complain about how sickly I looked and L asked if I was eating enough.
“Of course I am! I guess I have just been walking everywhere and it’s making me even smaller!”
He rolled his eyes and knew I was lying. What could he do though? Monitor my eating 24 hours a day?
I felt so alone but I couldn’t tell my mom or friends. I wanted them to think I was having a blast. I always put on to jovial voice during the Skype calls so they wouldn’t know how truly depressed I was.
I became suicidal.
I had just reread The Virgin Suicides and always thought I would go the way Cecelia first attempt to: wrists slit and bleeding out in the bathtub. It seemed basically painless (besides the actual cutting part) and I often bathed with a razor next to me. I would delicately play with it as I calmly contemplated my death. I had so many thoughts about it. Who would find me? Who would be notified first? How would my family and friends react? Who would speak at my funeral?
Luckily, every time I stared at the blade, my mother’s face always told me not to do it. I would immediately picture her crying my casket, wondering how she could have prevented it. When I got really down, I would write suicide letters, telling her that it wasn’t her fault and I’m much happier now that it’s over.
Wow, I have begun to cry as I write this. This is kind of the first time that I’m really writing it down in chronological order. Sure, I have shared my story many times, but for some reason this is really getting me. I just can’t believe how fucked up I was.
Some of you may think I was being dramatic but this is the harsh and downplayed reality of eating disorders. In health class, they do not teach that eating disorders completely consume your thoughts. They are addictions to the idea of being perfect and in control, which is the last thing you are as you let these diseases take over. In my head, I was perfect as long as I maintained my 23-inch waist.
When I came home empty-handed in August, my mom saw my skeletal figure and knew that something was up. I claimed that I just didn’t want to eat because it was so expensive and the food wasn’t very good. She took me to an Italian restaurant (CARBS! :/) after picking me up from the airport and I knew that I would have to put some weight on so she wouldn’t be suspicious. I quickly went up to 107 pounds without a hitch.
I knew I was sick and needed help so I started reading online eating disorder recovery blogs. I took some of their advice but in actuality, I had just switched to anorexia with my vigorous exercise and tiny portions. I stayed between 107-112 pounds for the next year without having to throw up. I also grew another inch and got my period back. I thought of myself as sober but really it’s like when alcoholics give up drinking and then switch over to chain-smoking. I wasn’t better, I had just blocked out the problem.
I relapsed when I moved back to LA in late 2014. So yes, this was only just a couple months ago. I kept it a secret from my roommates once again and did it at times I knew they wouldn’t be home. Romy, my roommate at the time, knew something was up as she saw me shrinking quickly and becoming very antsy and paranoid. I had known her for a little over a year and had told her about my bulimia in the past. She came home to the sound of me regurgitating my lunch and whipped open the door that I had forgotten to lock. She teared up as she sat next to me on the cold tile and looked into my eyes. I bawled like a toddler and apologized over and over as she held me.
I finally opened up to my friends and family about it and told them everything. My mom was shocked to hear about my London experience. Everyone had open arms and love for me and with their support, I got help. Romy went above and beyond to make sure that I was okay and I will never forget that.
One day, I decided to get a tattoo as a reminder to not slip into my old habits again. I looked up different words that meant “to defeat” or “to conquer” and my favorite was “vaincre” in French. I didn’t think it was weird choosing French because I used to be able to speak it quite well. I had Romy write it on my arm and I went to get it done an hour later. I love my tattoo and it’s a great sign of overcoming my battle.
My eating disorder is something that I will always live with. I still think of making myself sick every time I eat but I refrain from it. That’s very difficult considering I eat three times a day. I don’t use scales anymore because I don’t want to slip into my old controlling habits again. I go by how I fit into my clothes and what the measurement tape says. I think I weigh around 120-something and I am a size 2-4. I’m happy with my body now. I have boobs and a butt which I never had before. I refuse to drive so I stay in shape by walking everywhere and being on my feet all day at work. I can’t say that I will never make myself throw up again but I will try my hardest to not do so. Every day that has passed since I got help has been a victory and a progression.
I keep winning and my demons keep losing.
Growing boobs was also a great reward.