The Serendipitous Treatment for My Disordered Eating

My personal struggle with anorexia

Merre Larkin

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Select pieces of vegetables, mostly green, in an artistic but sparing design
Photo by Dose Juice on Unsplash

I wanted to be a model. I loved fashion. I read Seventeen and Glamour cover to cover every month. I yearned to pose in all those funky and cool clothes. Perusing those magazines in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I’d finally found a way to think of my tall and flat-chested gawkiness as something positive.

I went out for the track team the spring of my sophomore year in high school. I wasn’t a phenomenal runner, but I liked it. I decided I was going to join the cross country team in the fall.

Then something weird happened that summer. I got sick while visiting my aunt and uncle for a few days, vomiting up whatever I’d had for dinner. It took me several days to be able to eat again.

I lost weight, and my clothes were baggy on me. I liked it. No, I loved it. I don’t know why. I loved being even skinnier than I already was. I loved knowing I had control over it. I started counting calories.

I continued counting calories as I began logging long miles as a member of the cross country team. I’d eat Grape Nuts in the morning, a sandwich at lunch, and because I was from a big family, and my parents were running here and there with my four younger brothers and sisters, I’d eat a salad for dinner that no one would notice, proudly putting zero calories next to my dinner entry.

I did well at my first cross country meet. I wasn’t off the charts fast, but I had a time that could easily be improved, with training and experience. And, eating.

At my second meet, I made it halfway through the course, stopped and doubled over, and started hyperventilating. I couldn’t finish. On training runs, I had to stop to go to the bathroom because I couldn’t keep all the fiber I was consuming inside of me for that long.

My mom took me to the doctor. I weighed 100 pounds, not nearly enough for my height, 5’8”. The doctor nonchalantly commented to my mother that he thought it was merely a phase I was going through. My mom angrily disagreed and marched me out of his office. She told me I had to quit the cross country team. I knew she was right. I couldn’t finish the meets and even the daily training runs had become almost impossible for…

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Merre Larkin

Writer. Life coach. Educator. Marathoner. Survivor. Avid reader. Here to share, here to learn.