In the fall of 1998, when I was 18 years old, I stopped eating. I had graduated high school that summer a happy, plucky, ambitious teenager. I was captain of the swim team, straight A student, and lead actress in the school plays ... not necessarily a queen bee, but not someone with a terrible social status. I was known for my quick wit, intelligence, and confidence. What no one knew was that I was terrified of going to college.
When I got to college, I was lonely and lost. And for reasons that are complicated and varied, those emotional feelings manifested themselves in the form of what I soon recognized as anorexia, although I denied it at the time. What started as me “dieting” to avoid gaining the Freshman 15 turned into days of starvation. As my weight plummeted, I became even more disconnected from the world around me. By the time I went home at the end of the year, I had shrunken into a skeletal version of the healthy girl who had left the summer before.
Because my health had deteriorated so severely, my doctor and parents refused to let me return to school insisting that I commute instead to a local college. In November of 1999, during a fairly routine physical checkup, my doctor discovered that my potassium levels had dropped so significantly that my heart was in danger of stopping. He kept me in the hospital overnight, and soon after I was admitted to the Eating Disorder unit at Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment in Philadelphia, PA.
I was 19 years old, and 5’9”. I weighed 82 pounds.
My two month stay in Belmont undoubtedly saved my life, but the path to health and happiness was far from over. The years that followed were some of the toughest of my life. Part of the Mirror Mirror workshop is about exploring my own story, and helping young women (and men) identify red flags in their own lives.
I ended up graduating college in 2002, and continuing on to graduate school. My graduate thesis, Pretty Little Actress, is a deeper look into my own battle with anorexia. To read an excerpt, feel free to visit the Memoir pages.
Since graduate school, I worked at a college, trying to make the college experience better for new students than mine was for me. I got married in April of 2012, and spend my free time with my adorable son (who just loves the beach!) and my amazing husband.