Brave Body 12; Marissa's Story

Marissa Pommerenk

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Ever since I was young I've been a little bigger than everyone else,
so you can imagine what grammar school was like.

The older kids would mock me by "waddling" and pointing at me as I walked past.
Fights with "friends" always ended with the same comeback:
"lose a few pounds and then talk."

I wanted to believe they were jealous,
and I wanted to believe they were wrong - even at 10 years old.
But the more I heard it- the more I started to believe it.
I grew more and more self conscious and soon began to hate myself.
I broke the mirrors in my room,
rearranged the furniture so I could avoid catching a glimpse of my reflection at all costs
and untagged myself in every single picture someone would post of me.
Catching a stomach virus became my favorite part of each year.
Not because it meant 2 days off from school,
but because it meant weight loss
and hoping that maybe those 5lbs would make the bullying stop.

After one of the most brutal stomach viruses in the third grade, I returned to school.
The first thing my teacher said to me was
"WOW! You lost weight! Keep doing what you're doing!"
So I that's exactly what I did.

After eating a "big meal" I would purge out of guilt and fear that I would get bigger.
Counting calories and restricting then grew to be a part of my daily lifestyle
and by sophomore year of high school, my toothbrush was my best friend.
I would cut and attempt to overdose on sleeping pills just to take the pain away and end it all. Diet and exercise consumed my entire mind every minute of everyday,
which of course didn't make sense to a lot of people
because I "looked so healthy and played varsity basketball."
I've never been a "skinny" girl, so the amount of times I've heard
"you're anorexic-bulimic? There's no way. You don't look it at all!"
Is nauseating.

I believed all of my failed relationships were based solely on the fact that I was fat.
I started blaming myself for everything that had gone wrong in my life
and by my first year of college- I had hit rock bottom.
I couldn't stomach the crippling anxiety of walking into a classroom
and feeling like everyone was staring at me because of how "fat and disgusting" I was.
I could be found sitting in the back of the classroom fighting back tears
because I felt as though I barely fit at my little desk and EVERYONE had noticed
(which was not the least bit true).

Hearing my friends talk about how "fat" they were
and discussing sized and their weight in numbers took a toll on me mentally also.
How could these girls think they're "fat" at as minuscule of 120 pounds?
The numbers went to my head and I then lost control completely.
The little things had become big things
and I could not mentally handle any more "big" things.

Finally, late summer of 2016, I was given an ultimatum.
My family decided I needed treatment or I needed to leave.
That being said,  on September 7th, 2016 I left for The Renfrew Center
and began my road to recovery after over 10 years of the same vicious cycle.
I won't lie, the first week week was hard.
I missed home, I missed my friends, I missed freedom but
most of all I missed my eating disorder..

As the weeks went on, I was exposed to a life without ED.
As difficult as it was to diminish old habits that were a crucial part of my everyday life,
I knew I didn't want to go back to my old ways.
It must have somewhere between the 4AM wake up calls for weights and vitals,
the mandated 3 meals a day that required 100% completion,
and the fact that bathroom privileges were scarce
that I realized I was here for a reason.
I knew I had to persevere or I would remain sick forever.


As a result, I grew stronger:
I had more energy, my health improved, I was able to think rationally and even better . .
 I began to learn how to myself as I was.
The bullies didn't matter, the insults didn't matter,
all the comments made in passing by friends who couldn't fully understand my disorder
Did. Not. Matter.

All that mattered was me, and getting myself better.
After a rigorous four week routine of treatment, I was ready to come home.
Don't get me wrong..
there is truly no magic cure for any eating disorder.
Only believing in yourself and loving the person you are.
The urges do not become weaker, you just become stronger.
The most important thing to understand is that
ED comes in so many different shapes and sizes.
I may have looked healthy but I was dying on the inside.
That being said, I am officially a year and a half in recovery.
ED still plays a role in my everyday life,
but I will not let him control my every thought and move.

Treatment is important, loving yourself is important
but believing in yourself enough to move forward
from these horrible obstacles in life is truly a virtue.