Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Granddaughter's Battle With Anorexia

(I want to share this story about my Granddaughter with her permission. She struggled mightily with Anorexia and she tells her story on her blog. Brave girl to open up her heart and let us in. Hey--we need to give her a standing ovation. She is a Junior studying Nursing at Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, SC.)

I want to share my story with you, although it is not easy. I was a Junior in high school. I was obsessed with track, and loved the idea of getting faster to receive a college scholarship. I was seeing a therapist for family reasons, and we often got on the topic of track. He once told me that if I ate better I would become even faster than I already was. Keep in mind, I was never even the slightest overweight my entire life. In fact, I had chicken legs. I would get told to "eat a burger" at least once a day. So, I did not go on this diet to become thinner, I simply went on it to become "faster." I began to keep a journal of everything I ate. For example, I had written down "Goldfish" as my afternoon snack. I got told that that needed to stop, and I would not become faster that way. I was a 16-17 year old girl, so I thought eating Goldfish as a snack was okay? Well apparently not. I instantly changed my diet.

My diet was fine at first. I did not restrict myself of much. I just ate different things. Not knowing that I had an addictive personality, this got out of control pretty quickly. I never cared about my weight, or my body image; but once I started to lose some weight, and look more "lean" and "athletic", I became addicted to it. My senior year of high school was coming up and my only goal was to get a track scholarship. I would drive an hour away 3 days a week to train with a very special coach I had. On the days I was not with her, I was in the gym, and running on my own. There was no such thing as a day off for me. My food habits remained the same as my senior year started. Every Friday, there would be a football game that I would ALWAYS attend because my boyfriend was on the team. When I think about that football season, I think about how much I would make myself run before each game. I would leave from school and go run for at least an hour. I would go home, get ready for the game, and on my way out the door I would heat up a frozen dinner that had 0% fat in it, otherwise I wouldn't eat it. I would be starving, but I loved it. I would stand all night long at those games thinking about how many calories I have burned.

I woke up one morning for a track meet. I put on my uniform for the first time in a year. It was very baggy on me, and I was shocked. I had no idea how much weight I was losing. I stepped on the scale and it read "102." I am about 5'7'', so 102 pounds is considered underweight, but it was not to the scary part yet. I ran great that day, and my coach told me to keep on doing whatever it is I had been doing, so I did. I had lost my period, my appetite, clothes that fit, my great personality, the ability to sleep, and the ability to be truly happy with life; but I continued to do this to myself because I just could not help it. I got down to about 95 pounds. I did not learn that until recently.

I would make my boyfriend cupcakes a lot, and I will never forget this one time when I took a bite of one. I took one itty bitty bite, and ED** just thought it was the end of the world. I made myself run three and a half miles in the pitch black dark after I took that bite. My mom and step-dad went driving around in the car looking for me, because they were worried. I refused to get in the car, because I knew I had to run this bite of a cupcake off.

I enrolled myself in weight-training with a bunch of football players. I had this second period during my day. One day we were lifting pretty heavily in there, and something happened. I never told anyone this happened, and I was even in-denial it happened to myself in all. I was doing hang cleans at a weight that was probably heavier than I was. I picked up the bar and began my clean. As I lifted it, everything went black. I could not see anything, and I could hear my heart beat VERY loud in my brain. I freaked out. I dropped the bar and just slowly went to the ground. I did not pass out; I was fully awake. I played it off like I was fine and my vision re-appeared eventually. But I knew I wasn't fine, at all. It scared me, but I never thought about it or talked about it to anyone, not even myself. I had ED telling me that was okay and I should be lifting more.

I would work out at the least three times a day, every single day. I had to. I woke up, went to school, I had second period weight-training to burn my breakfast off. Then I would eat my 11 almonds for a snack, and shortly after I would go into the bathroom and do jumping jacks, and ab workouts to burn off the 11 almonds. Then, I would eat my same lunch as I did everyday. I would burn that off at track practice. Sometimes after practice I would go to the gym and workout more. I was starving, I could barely stand up I was so tired, but yes, I would go to the gym. I could not go to sleep until I did 200 jumping jacks and an ab workout. I could not get into the shower until I did 100 jumping jacks.

The day I shouted "I need help", was the day I am thankful the most for. I came home from track practice, very hungry. I saw my mom cooking with butter...and woah. I started to panic. "Why are you cooking with butter? Butter is bad for you. I am not eating that." I threw a temper tantrum, except I was 18 years old, not 3. I kicked, screamed, and hyperventilated with tears rolling down my face. My mom and sister were watching, and I'm sure they did not know what to do. I hit the counter and yelled "I need help!!!" A few days later, I started therapy and I got told I was "Anorexic."

t was exhausting fighting with ED at all hours of the day. It was exhausting going to endless doctor appointments and therapy sessions. It all felt endless, and none of it was helping. It was just a cycle. I went in, they covered my eyes while they weighed me, I went back into the room, and they told me "well, you have gotten worse." They told me this every single time. I felt like I was getting better, except I was getting worse. I did not understand and I was very sick and very tired of being sick and tired. You wake up every morning with the same ED demanding you to constantly run yourself down.

I finally got that track scholarship I had been dreaming of. I got offers from a few schools, but I picked Limestone College, in Gaffney, South Carolina. Right before I got sent off to school, I was having some family issues, and I became worse than ever. My therapist/nutritionist told me to stop exercising and running. She cut me off from it, although I hardly listened. She told me that if I did not get better, then I could not run in college. I could not even go to college because it would not be safe. I instantly freaked out because I wanted to keep running more than anything. I was scared. I felt like without running and without ED, then I was nothing. I will never forget what my mom wished for on mothers day. I got home from work nagging about when I am going to work out, and she said to me "Libby, all I want for Mother's day is for you to not run today." And I tried it, I really did. We went to dinner somewhere, I did not eat anything there of course. When we got home I remember a rush of anxiety building up in me and ED screaming at me in my head. I had to go running, so I did. I am sure I let my mom down many many times, but she understood I couldn't control this.
Celebrating with friends at an
Eating Disorder walk in Clemson, SC

I went off to college more scared than ever. I did not want to go, but I forced myself. And I believe that if I did not go, then I don't know if I would be alive today. Getting sent off to college while struggling with ED at all hours of the day was HARD. No, hard is an understatement. It was nearly impossible. I knew nobody there, and I felt like I had no one to talk to that really understood what was wrong with me. My coach knew, and offered me people to talk to, but I shut that down. My boyfriend went to school about 30 minuets away, so I constantly would run to him (not literally, lol). If it wasn't for him, I don't know what I would've done. I am extremely thankful for that.

Things were slowly getting better. I started to make more friends that will last a lifetime. You would never find me in that cafeteria, but when you did, I would be eye balling what all my runner friends would eat. They would eat like crap! And I couldn't believe it, but they were still super fast, so I was confused. I thought that maybe I should try that too. I read many books, and wrote a lot during this time. It helped me. I saw a facility in Greenville, and they examined me. They took my heart rate, and it was in the 30s. If you know anything about anything, you know that's scary low. They took it twice to make sure it was accurate, and it was. They called my mom in a panic, making her panic. They told her to make me stop running, and that I needed to go into their facility and stay there for treatment. I immediately went against that. I'm sure I did need that, but I felt as if I did that, I would've gotten worse. My mom listened to me, and trusted me with what I said.

Things were getting better. I started eating things I would have never eaten. I did go through another obstacle when I began getting better. I would eat right before bed. Things like Pop-tarts, or animal crackers. If I ate those before bed, I would starve myself the next day, and it just became a cycle. I was seeing a therapist in Spartanburg and she helped me through this part.

I have never felt more thankful for my support group, still to this day. My mom, dad, step-dad, sister, friends, boyfriend, coaches, doctors, etc. I could go on and on. I really had a big team rooting for me and it makes me happy to make them proud.

It eventually felt "gone." And it pretty much was. I had many distractions, although some of them were not "good" distractions. I blocked out ED for a long time with these distractions, and I lost myself during that process. I am now back on track, I love my life, and I am running well at a healthy weight. I attend USC Upstate now, and my major is Nursing, which I am very passionate about. I will be honest with you though; I still hear ED every single day. His evil demanding voice is not gone, and a part of me thinks he will never be gone. I do still have a hard time looking in the mirror and saying something positive about myself. Part of the reason I am making this blog is to help myself and remind myself how far I have come, and to not go back to the life that almost killed me; oh, and this blog will really piss off my buddy ED, so that is a plus too. 

**eating disorder

(Want to communicate with Libby? Her email address is: Jennettelibby3@gmail.com)

Libby, her Mama Leslie, her sister Natalie
her Grandmother Gayle

Want to know more about this problem you might want to visit the web site: 

Jennie Schaefer tells her story about her own journey with Anorexia in her books, Life Without End and goodbye ed, hello me.

--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com


  1. Hooray for Libby for sharing her story! May her strength to overcome ED continue!!!!

  2. You go girl! I am so very proud of you Libby and the strength you pulled from with in you to overcome ED! I know you will continue your battle but always come out the champion you have become. You are An Amazing young women!

  3. I went to limestone my freshman year and now I'm at upstate. I see you around sometimes and I would've never known. Your story is inspirational!

  4. I am so sorry that you have had to go through this. Sometimes our brains tell us we need to do something that we don't need to do. You are so brave for telling your story; it will shed some light on this rarely-talked-about disorder. I hope you are doing well and wish you the best in the future for you and your family.

    Margaretta Cloutier @ Aspire Wellness Center