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Slow Suicide: My Battle with Eating Disorder

Two girls recount their struggles with eating disorders, and share how they finally learned not to measure their beauty by the pound.
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"Change your mantra!" —Sarah, 22 

It started in sixth grade. I ate everything I wanted then I went to the bathroom and stuck my finger in my mouth. I kept on picturing my mom buying stuff for me, and the poor starving children in Africa. But what the heck, I loved it.

I blew up to 140 lbs. in college. I resorted to vomiting, crash dieting, pills that make you thirsty, and Valium just so I could sleep. Then Atkins came along.

At 105 lbs., I still felt fat. I looked like a walking zombie! On the last week of July 2003, my stomach gave up and my body collapsed. The doctor said it was gastritis and gave me a prescription. I skipped classes and drank unmedicated drugs—I just assumed I knew what to do since I had an ulcer before. Sleepless nights with fever and constant vomiting were my drama. I just kept on losing weight. It wasn't funny anymore.

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When I went back to school, my classmates and professors were all concerned and asked why I was yellow. I'd say, "Oh you know, I'm Chinese, yellow is our skin color!" I checked myself in the mirror and to my surprise… I was yellow!

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I was diagnosed a hundred times. I thought, "Why did I do this to myself and worse, to my mom!?"

I had hepatitis and mental issues. I felt ashamed. I didn't go to school for a month. My doctor told me to rest and eat whatever I wanted.

I was thankful for my family and friends who were supportive of me. I gained back 10 to 15 lbs., but that doesn't bother me anymore. There are days when I'm tempted to regress, but remembering the sleepless nights prevents me from doing so.

At 115 lbs. and 5'3", I've never felt happier in my whole life.

You can still ace your chemistry exam, win by a landslide as student body president, or touch people's hearts without starving yourself. The road to success has nothing to do with to your weight. So you better change your mantra, Candy Girls! You are beautiful and no words should put you down.

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"I'm happy—finally!" —Elaine*, 22

I was often up till the wee hours clicking and going through my downloaded celebrity images over and over, zooming in on their fabulous abs to motivate me to stick to my workout-or-purge routine.

I was around 14 or 15 years old.

I wasn't thinking at all. Naked or adorably dressed, I would look at myself in the mirror and see a great deal of flaws.

My pig-out days were always followed by quick bathroom episodes. My throat burned, I could taste blood, and the ugly marks at the back of my hand (caused by the sharp ends of my teeth) seemed more obvious. I remember being in constant pain and disgust. I didn't want to put on weight, but I couldn't resist a platter of desserts either.

It was Christmas Eve. I was looking at chunks of roast beef and blue marlin splattered around the toilet bowl, and I thought about the sautéed shrimps, grilled chicken legs, baked beans, and three glasses of pineapple-orange juice. So much to take out in so little time!

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Four fingers were already inside my mouth. Creamy fresh fruit salad and triple chocolate cake topped with caramel crumble—I had to thresh them out of my system fast or they'd go straight to my thighs!

In an insane attempt to inflict more pain, I started pounding my stomach once, twice, harder and harder. I was dripping in sweat and tears. But I felt lighter, and… empty.

I suffered from disturbingly irregular bowel movements. I was aware of the seriousness  of my condition, but I was more concerned about looking bloated.

One time, I indulged in a box of cream puffs and aimed for the sink immediately. I put three fingers inside my mouth. I hit my stomach hard a few times. Nothing happened. I was extremely desperate to puke everything out but I couldn't!

I sobbed like a lost child. It was probably the lowest and saddest point of my life—and what was worse, I brought this upon myself single-handedly.

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Frankly, I don't think it's something you're ever cured from. It's an ongoing challenge. I need to be on guard all the time. At the peak of my struggling years, I could tell I was falling apart—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Had it not been for my sister's unconditional love and unfaltering support, I wouldn't have made it out in one piece.

There's really no point in comparing my build and proportions to anyone else's. It happens to everyone. I'm sure even the world's most beautiful woman experiences feeling "un-pretty" once in a while.

Find a solid support system. Realize that it's not the end. But first, it's important that you acknowledge and accept the fact that as much as you want to handle the situation alone, you simply can't.

I look at myself in the mirror and I still see flaws and imperfections. Then I turn a bit and just marvel at the fact that my butt looks fabulous! My body isn't perfect, but I'm thankful that I'm endowed with great assets! At 5'4" and between 107 to 110lbs., I'm happy—finally.

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This was originally published in Candy Magazine's February 2008 issue.

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Jillian Gatcheco
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