I cannot pinpoint the exact moment in which I transitioned into a full-blown eating disorder. Based on my own research over the years, I now know there are many personality and genetic traits as well as individual circumstances that make one susceptible to this particular illness. All I knew in the beginning is what it did for me, and I considered it a welcomed change.
On those cold winter days in school, I began experiencing panic attacks, and the only thing that got me through the day was obsessing about what I would be eating for lunch. By now I had met a good group of friends through the band and my brother, and was beginning to feel accepted. The girls in this group were pretty, thin, and seemed to have all of the confidence that I lacked. Their clothes were feminine and stylish in comparison to the pants I had sewn myself and my boyish tops. I ate lunch with them and observed as they daintily ate their miniscule lunches while I munched on ice cream sandwiches and buddy bars. I studied their flirtatious mannerisms, sleek appearance, and self-control, wishing I could be more like them but understanding that I lacked the willpower. I began to feel disgusting and unattractive.
Even the boys in my youth group who once had crushes on me started making comments about my weight. This was further fueled by a group exercise in which we had to tell each other what animal we resembled and I was told I was a baby hippo, thus inheriting that nickname. I’ve since labeled this as the event that launched me into my binge/purge behaviors. My feelings about myself had been confirmed and I couldn’t rely on denial any more. I wanted to be like the girls in my group, and I was determined to do anything to make that happen.