There's a trend with books about anorexia where the authors refuse to discuss actual numbers. The thought is that they don't want to give anyone a number, because anorexics can be ultra competitive. If someone says, "I weighed 90lbs" it's possible that could trigger someone else to want to weigh 85lbs. When I first began struggling, the only books I could find on the topic were diaries of other girls who had eating disorders, so pretty much all that was discussed were numbers, weight, exercise and food. I went back and forth, trying to decide if it was a good idea to mention my own numbers in my book. In the end, I decided I needed to give people an accurate idea of how bad it got, so that everyone would understand how, even in the worst cases, survival is possible.
I've decided to put a small excerpt from my book here, so that people can get an idea of what I went through with the illness and hopefully see what can be overcome.
From Training on Empty:
Technically I should be dead. At my lowest point, I weighed about 80 pounds. I was having seizures and was in the beginning stages of complete organ failure. I was jaundiced; my pituitary gland wasn’t functioning properly; my hair was falling out; my skin was scaly; I had edema and I was constantly thirsty. I looked like a concentration camp victim, yet I felt fat all the time. I had lost touch with reality. I was anorexic.
Let’s face it, anorexia is a heavy topic. It’s not the kind of thing you want to bring up at the dinner table, for more than one reason. Then again, how many anorexics do you know who actually sit down to eat dinner? It’s a sad, painful, scary and destructive path that an anorexic takes. A path that the people around them often end up being forced to travel as well.
I became anorexic when I was 13. It happened in an instant. I just made a firm decision that I was going to lose weight and that was that. It wasn’t so terrible at first. I even got more popular as the pounds dropped away. Eventually though, things got weird...really weird. For about 20 years after that initial decision, I battled the disease. My attitude toward life took a serious turn. Anorexia was all consuming.
It wasn’t until much later, well after I had started on the road to recovery that I realized what had been missing from my life: humor. So I decided to take a different look at this whole anorexia situation, and while I am in no way aiming to make light of the severity of the disease and its consequences, (20 percent of people suffering from anorexia will die prematurely from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.) I do want to point out that humor heals. For me, it was a big part of getting well. Laughing again after so many years of being silent was an outlet, a way to save myself from the despair of an illness that almost killed me.
My name is Lize, and this is the story of my life. By writing this book I hope to give people an idea of what led to my anorexia, how I survived and how I began to heal. Unfortunately, there is no grand formula for getting well, no 12 steps or going cold turkey. However, I do believe there is a way out of the darkness. Each person must create his or her own path to recovery, but perhaps reading what I went through will offer some hope, inspiration and ideas to help others create a path to wellness. I don’t do things half-assed. As bad off as I was, I found a way, and if I could recover, there’s hope for many others.
In the following chapter, I go on to explain that I was once a top runner in Colorado, and got to a point where I could hardly stand on my own two feet. Rather than offering another diary (I don't think telling people I ate a carrot does much good in the long run), I wanted to take a global approach to an eating disorder. I've offered not just my own experiences, but opinions and suggesting from many people including some top runners like Lorraine Moller, Diane Israel, Colleen Cannon, Patty Murray and Dave Dunham. I'm hoping that this broad look at everything from the causes of the illness to a look at how to prevent it will help people understand eating disorders. I'm hoping too that if "Snooki" can become a top selling "author", a publisher will be willing to take a chance with my book.