You Said It

The Year of My Eating Disorder

I wanted to be the best at something, even if it landed me in the hospital.

Illustration by Sonja

I used to think it was my friend Alli’s* fault that I landed in the hospital in seventh grade with a heart rate between 40 and 50 beats per minute. A normal resting rate is between 60 and 100—mine was so low that I had passed out in school after an anxiety attack. This happened during orchestra. I don’t actually remember passing out, but my friend Erica said that when she followed me into the hallway, I was hyperventilating. Then I fainted and became unresponsive for a couple of minutes. Soon after this, I was hospitalized. I weighed far below what I should have at the time.

Why was it Alli’s fault? Because she could still starve and I couldn’t. I was forced to eat. I was forced to spend six hours a day in group therapy while she was in school, and her parents didn’t suspect a thing.

I’ve struggled my whole life with low self-esteem, anxiety, and a warped body image. Though I did not realize it at the time, part of the reason my parents sent me to a therapist in the third grade was that, even at nine, I was restricting my food intake and obsessed with being thin.

Then, in sixth grade, I met Alli. She was a dancer and she was told she had to be thin to do what she loved. We began “supporting” each other by counting calories. We brought salads for lunch, and when we changed for gym, we did so next to the mirror so we could clearly see who was thinner. Alli always was, so I made up my mind at the end of sixth grade to lower my intake. She followed suit. We saw each other almost every day that summer, swimming together, eating frozen mangoes, and tossing out the sandwiches our parents had packed for us in the woods near the pond. Sometimes we would go to the library and look at Seventeen or read diet books, which inspired me to read cookbooks with nutritional information to find things I “could” eat.

When school started, I saw my life slide sharply downhill. Alli and I had only orchestra together, so all but one of my core classes were lonely affairs. I trashed my lunch every day save for an apple that I cut into tiny pieces. Alli and I further limited our caloric intake. We talked about “fat” girls on the way home, many of whom I now think of as beautiful. We told each other everything about our days while comparing the number of fingers we could fit between our thighs when our knees were touching.

OK, I know you might be worried that this is going to be a pro-ana, “thinspiration” piece now, but it’s not. This is the story of my 2011. But if I’m going to tell you what happened next, I need to tell you everything I thought and felt at the time, which is not at all pretty and definitely unhealthy.

I will start on Valentine’s Day of last year. About two weeks after passing out, I checked into Bader 5, the wing of Children’s Hospital Boston that treats psychiatric disorders. I hated myself and everyone there. I hated the food most of all. Every day I counted calories until they went over my head and I felt like I was going to drown. I was sure—absolutely sure—that I would starve again once I was released.

At first, I had no friends and sat in silence, shaking and lost. Every day I woke up at five AM after a restless night. I ran in place silently in my room with the door locked—this was the only time I was allowed to close my door. At seven, I would take a shower, which humiliated me because I hated being naked, but also gave me a sick thrill because I was still “thin.” At eight, I had breakfast, which was supposed to be finished in 30 minutes, but I prolonged it to 40 or 50. At 10 AM, I had a snack. At noon came lunch, three PM meant another snack, dinner was at five. I looked forward to visits with my parents every evening from five to eight, but I didn’t talk about my recovery. Instead, I talked about sadness, and how I missed my friends, and when I would get back to school. Also, my therapy was not very productive. I tried hard to block out all of the reasons I was anorexic: my need to beat Alli at being thin, a desperate desire to get guys to look at me, the urge to be the best at just one thing. I did not share any of these thoughts with my therapists. I did not tell them how, once I was home again, I would go right back to counting every calorie that passed my chapped lips.

Then my luck changed. A girl came to Bader 5—I will call her Amanda. She arrived on my one-week anniversary there. She made my days bearable because she was like Alli, only younger and more soft-spoken. We talked about our habits. We talked about this other girl on the unit who scared us with her loud voice. We talked about television, family, friends, everything. Mainly, though, we talked about starving. And slowly, more girls like us arrived: Kelly, Coco, Lily. And I began to feel a little happier. I had people who understood me, people who hated it there as much as I did, people who didn’t want to get better. However, as everyone saw my mood change, they assumed my recovery was working. My team at Bader—which included a therapist, a nutritionist, and a case manager—decided, along with my parents, that it was time for the next step.

On March 3rd, I was let out and sent to a day program at the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center (CEDC). The program was scheduled from nine AM to 3:30 PM, meaning I could go home, but not to school. Every day was spent in silence. Inside my head, I was still anorexic. I ate like they wanted me to, but I was always judging the other girls on how “skinny” or “fat” they were, and I was always counting the calories or sneaking to the bathroom to check myself in the mirror, which was unsuccessfully covered up with motivational quotes. The people there tried to talk to me, but I refused. Group leaders would ask for my ideas on issues and about my life at home, but I would give one-word answers, all the while staring at the ground or at my thighs. I was scared they would reject me and I would be even more of a loser in my own eyes, rejected even by freaks. Freaks like me.

The only time I talked to anyone besides my parents was when Alli came over to my house. She told me about her life and asked about mine. We drew the “fat and ugly” people that we would never be. I asked her about Andrew, the boy I liked, and she said everyone missed me. She told them there had been an issue with my heart. She also told me that her ballet teacher complimented her on how skinny she was, and how her children’s-size jeans were so big that she could fit a couple of fingers between the waistband and her abdomen. Every time I saw her I loved her. Every time I saw her I hated her—because she hadn’t gotten caught and I had.

At this point in my life, I also had two other close friends: Erica and Christie. Erica and Alli were already friends, but Christie and Alli had never been close. Then, somehow, after I landed in the hospital, they were best friends. Christie had no idea that Alli was anorexic. At first I felt happy when Christie and Alli visited me together because we were like a group, but it also made me uneasy because, slowly, they were getting closer and closer. I felt like each was stealing the other from me.

Still, I started to feel a little better. Maybe it was because I was well nourished and thinking more clearly. Or maybe therapy really was helping. I became more open and talkative at the day program. I still didn’t talk about my recovery—the original reasons for my eating disorder, how I was still counting calories, my horrid body image—but I began to talk about other things, like my mixed feelings about Christie and Alli’s growing friendship and my inferiority to Erica, with her perfect grades and cello playing. I was surprised that people didn’t completely ignore me.

In April, things were looking up. I had the best 13th-birthday party ever! It was Oscars themed and everyone dressed up, me in a genuine ’20s flapper dress with red-beaded fringe. We went to the auditorium of the college that my father worked at. Everyone drank mocktails and played with balloons. I stopped caring as much about what people thought of me. This manifested in different ways, the most visible of which was that I started to wear vintage clothing. This was important because I became more confident that I could be good at something other than starving—dressing. I was slowly becoming friends with people in the CEDC and I finally had people to talk to at lunch, people whose numbers I could ask for, people who liked me even though I was messed up. I was really happy for the first time in more than half a year.

Things were going better, but I still had not recovered. I still filled in “yes” on the paper we filled out every day that asked if I had “used behaviors,” which refers to counting calories, self-harm, throwing up, weighing oneself, etc. I was still judging foods based on their calories. Meals were hard, and sometimes, at home, I did not finish within 30 minutes and had to drink Ensure. I still heard Alli’s voice in my head asking how many calories I had eaten today, and I wanted to go back to a time when I could tell her that I had only chewed a piece of gum.

I’m sorry to say that I think my methodical eating triggered bad behavior in other people. I know that if I had seen someone eat like I did, cutting peas in half, I would feel horrible. I’m sure my eating provoked in other people what talking to Alli provoked in me, the “you are soooo fat, you eat waayyyyyy too much” voice. For some reason, I was surprised that I was still in treatment while others filed out and into the evening program and new ones took their place. Why wasn’t I let out?

It was, of course, because I was still unhealthy, both mentally and physically. Then I made a mistake. I started lying on my check-in papers. I said no, I had not used behaviors. No, I was fine. All because I wanted to starve again. Looking back, I don’t know why, because I was happy and I was on my way to having healthy thoughts. Weirdly, because I WANTED to starve again, I ate my meals without problems.

My release date drew nearer. Everyone was happy for me. Happy for a liar. And it made me sad. I was released into the evening program on April 14th, which meant I had to go into the CEDC three days a week, from five until eight at night. But this time, I had no trouble making friends. People from the day program who had graduated before me were there, and I talked to them. They were some of the nicest people in the world. They accepted me and we laughed together during the 10-minute breaks after meals and snacks, getting shouted at by the counselors for being too loud. Yes, I still lied about behaviors and I had unhealthy thoughts. I never reached the point with my therapist where I told her about the issues leading up to my eating disorder or how I would still look at the backs of food boxes to check the fat content. But I did talk about Alli’s disorder, and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I graduated in July.

Fast-forward to the present day. I regret lying to get out of the day program, because the treatment was necessary, but I still see my therapist two times a week. I am only now trying to get rid of my ED voice. I can go a few weeks without counting calories or looking at nutritional information. I am no longer friends with Christie and Alli. I tried to tell Christie about Alli’s anorexia and how she always asked me when I was going back to starving, but Christie didn’t believe me. She told me that it was good for girls to be conscious of their weight and that she would be happy if she lost 10 pounds.

However, I am happier than I have been since the sixth grade. I may never feel 100% recovered, but I know it’s an ongoing process. This year is going great. My relationship with my parents has improved because I’m no longer lying to them. I’m doing better in school now that I can actually concentrate. I have new friends, ones who don’t make me feel insignificant. I have a semi-boyfriend. We went to Cambridge a few weekends ago. We walked past the CEDC together, and he held my hand, and I was inspired to contact my old buddies. I hope, by reading this, others can see how important it is to open up about their struggles and not lie to the people who are trying to help.

I am counting down the months until May, when I can return to the CEDC as a recovery speaker. ♦

Charlotte S. is an eighth-grader living in the Boston area.

*All names have been changed.


  • moonchild February 20th, 2012 3:04 PM

    OH MY GOD CESS!!!!! CONGRATS!!!! Okay… hold on… now let me actually read the article…


    • moonchild February 20th, 2012 3:23 PM

      Wow. I am so proud of you for feeling better about yourself. You are really beautiful, and I hope you never feel bad about yourself again because you are really a rockin grrrl! You have really found your talent; you always inspire me with your creativity! I loved the writing too… Maybe someday you will combine your love of clothes with your writing and be a fashion journalist! (just a thought :D) Anyway, it’s really awesome that you opened up and wrote for us today! Thank you so much!


  • rosiesayrelax February 20th, 2012 3:09 PM

    wow that’s really enlightening. You go girl.

  • Susann February 20th, 2012 3:14 PM

    Wow, I’m really amazed by your honesty and I wish you all the best!

  • Georgie February 20th, 2012 3:16 PM

    I experienced much the same thing. All the time I ate less I thought I’d be happier. I thought that I was winning a secret competition, that I was more beautiful than the girls I regard as gorgeous now. In fact I was skeletal, I was tired, I was pale and the worst thing – my own little sister was scared of me and scared for me. They all thought I was going to die, and I almost wished I would just so they’d stop nagging me to eat. But now? I eat what I want, when I want. And I’ve never felt so happy, rolls and curves and all.

    Well done Charlotte on a thought provoking article and an inspirational recovery!

  • stephb February 20th, 2012 3:20 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story — very brave! Please consider telling an adult about Alli.

  • Lalaith February 20th, 2012 3:29 PM

    Congrats! As someone who has struggled with eating disorders before, I completely understand your battle. Great job for dropping that unhealthy mindset. Keep it up!

  • sarahbeara February 20th, 2012 3:38 PM

    i thought this was amazing… i frequently have ED type thoughts and often hold off or delay eating. ive never acted on them though. this is such a sweet article and i wish you all the best :)

  • Jane February 20th, 2012 3:39 PM

    You are a fantastic writer and so brave to share this

  • Ellie February 20th, 2012 3:42 PM

    This is so brilliant and lovely, and I’m so glad for Charlotte. I can’t even express how great this article is. Thanks.

  • normalgirl February 20th, 2012 3:43 PM

    though i really like this article, I feel like this just skimmed the horrors of eating disorders . I’ve seen people and even myself have serious problems and backlash from ED’s so I think it would have been more powerful to have discussed the scary things that aren’t always talked about. I had an eating disorder for a year and I have no recollection of it – my memory was basically gone, I lost a lot of my hair, and some of my friends.

  • Adrienne February 20th, 2012 3:49 PM

    You’re so strong! So inspirational. And you’re writing is really good. I can’t believe that you’re only in 8th grade!

    I’ve read stories from other girls who’ve experienced eating disorders, but none of them were as heart-touching and raw as yours.

  • Claire February 20th, 2012 3:54 PM

    This is so poignant, I think I just cried a tiny bit. Reminds me of the start of my eating disorder in 7th grade. Unfortunately, I’m 18 and still fighting, but this is a really great piece (-:

  • Chloe Elizabeth February 20th, 2012 3:55 PM

    This is very sad, but very inspiring. I have a totally effed up body image and I know it. Sometimes, depending on the mood I’m in, its like two totally different people looking back at me in the mirror.

    • lorobird February 20th, 2012 7:06 PM

      You are beautiful! You read Rookie, that pretty much does it.

    • MissKnowItAll February 20th, 2012 9:20 PM

      I know what you mean. Sometimes you feel totally confident and sexy in your own skin, and sometimes you feel like you want to crawl under the covers and not face the world. But please, always remember that you are a beautiful person who has a great life to live. And no matter what happens, you can always find comfort and acceptance here at Rookie.

  • MissKnowItAll February 20th, 2012 3:56 PM

    Wow. As I read this I started to cry. This feels so true and raw and I felt sad that you had to go through something so horrific. The summer after eighth grade, I stopped feeling hungry. I could eat a sandwich for breakfast and not feel hungry for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel sick or weak, so I just ate how much I felt needed. One day, my mom noticed that I wasn’t eating lunch, and made me eat in front of her. I threw a fit and told her I wasn’t hungry. She told me that if I didn’t eat, I would be anorexic. So everyday, she would make me eat in front of her. I don’t think I was at the point of starving myself, but I was definitely doing some harm.

  • donovan February 20th, 2012 3:58 PM

    I have always been interested in submitting a piece to Rookie about my time spent in a mental hospital for my depression/plan of committing suicide, but I thought it wouldn’t be looked at because it is a dark subject.

    • Runaway February 20th, 2012 6:07 PM

      Why don’t you try? They’ve dealt with a wide range of subjects so far, from the lightest to the darkest.
      I’ve also suffered from depression…I’m a mild case, though.

      PS. Congrats to Charlotte! Don’t give up the fight!

    • Tavi February 21st, 2012 6:33 AM

      We would totally look at that piece. It’s important to talk about these things and especially from people who have had experience with it. When you feel ready, please do send it in!

  • dorothy_4_1939 February 20th, 2012 3:59 PM

    As a recovered anorexic, I find this story beautiful and inspiring. :)

  • queserasera February 20th, 2012 4:03 PM

    Wow so young and you’ve been through so much. One of my friends has a different type of eating disorder, compulsive exercise disorder. It’s so sad to hear her count calories and carbs to herself every lunchtime and jog for hours afterschool.

    • violetlilies February 22nd, 2012 3:39 PM

      gosh, i have a friend like that too. she never puts any flour in anything she bakes in food tech and her parents wouldnt let her bake a cake because it contained sugar. it freaks me out and worries me cause i dont know if she is doing it to get skinny (eventhough she is a perfectly healthy size) or if it is just normal and i am so glad to know that someone else has friends like her. Can someone let me know if i should be worried or not?

  • MVC February 20th, 2012 4:06 PM

    Hey, I just want to say well done. You have gone through alot at a young age (I’m 21) and you are braver than I am.

    Good luck in the future!

  • Jesss February 20th, 2012 4:31 PM

    This is so sad and beautiful, and I want to say well done. I think it’s great you’re going to become a recovery speaker and I wish you the best of luck xx

  • katieeleanor February 20th, 2012 4:53 PM

    rookie i have so much respect for you tackling mental illness with such insightfulness, it’s prompted me to be less ashamed of my manic depression and i am so very grateful.
    charlotte, congratulations, your bravery is beautiful.

  • burn-your-flesh February 20th, 2012 4:56 PM

    It’s really brave of you to put this out there and look at yourself so honestly.

  • youarebananas February 20th, 2012 4:58 PM

    thanks so much for sharing this, really good to read.

    would it be possible, though, to add a trigger warning for this article on the front page of rookie? this is pretty intense and may be too much for some readers. thanks!!

  • Emmy February 20th, 2012 5:03 PM

    Wow. You’ve gone through so much. This article was really really eye-opening, especially when I think of my friends that pinch their thighs or their stomach while looking at themselves in the mirror. It reminds me of “Perfect” by Natasha Friend, a book about a girl with bulimia who befriends another bulimic girl but overcomes her eating disorder after realizing why she chose it. I feel like a lot of people nowadays tend either to turn a blind eye toward eating disorders or to accuse everyone of having one, so thanks Rookie for publishing something like this.

  • Roxxxanne February 20th, 2012 5:25 PM

    I am glad to have read this.
    You are young and I’m sorry you had to endure all of this but you are a survivor and it shows in your strong, mature writing.


  • Stephanie February 20th, 2012 5:28 PM

    This is an incredible piece. I cried. You are a strong woman and a talented writer, Charlotte. I wish you continued success in your recovery. You inspire me.

  • starrynightgirls February 20th, 2012 5:35 PM

    Hello from New Zealand !! May I say that it’s extremely refreshing to read such an original, non-body obsessed, music-lovin’ beauty of a magazine.

    Thank you for existing !!

  • chantal February 20th, 2012 5:39 PM

    I’m so glad that Rookie did a piece on this because I think there’s a lot more people out there with ED’s than we know. Like you said, some just don’t get caught.
    I was 14 and a lonely freshman when my disorder happened. I guess I was lucky that it was only for a year but ugh I still remember those nasty Ensure drinks six years later :X
    Congrats on your gradual recovery ♥

  • Sleepless_Swan17 February 20th, 2012 6:12 PM

    This made me cry. I am going through the same exact thing that you went through in sixth grade, i count my calories and i work out like a MANIAC. Its so life consuming, and I am getting tired of letting food and self image control my life. This article really inspired me to take control of my life again and get help, it also gives me hope that someday I will get better and not have to live in sadness and insecurity anymore. Thank you.<3

    • lorobird February 20th, 2012 7:30 PM

      You can do it if you want, you are strong and beautiful :)

    • MissKnowItAll February 20th, 2012 9:15 PM

      No matter what you’re going through, always know that you are beautiful and deserve to live life to the fullest. You are brave and beautiful and I think I can speak for all of Rookie when I say that you can always depend on us to support you.

  • Sally February 20th, 2012 6:31 PM

    Charlotte, it made me very happy for you that you’ve chosen recovery over your eating disorder. Life is so big, with so many possibilities and choices, and an eating disorder frankly robs someone of that. I developed an eating disorder at a similar age as you; I’m 27 now, and it’s taken me almost this long to become the person I want to be, WITHOUT my eating disorder. Please keep working towards your recovery so you can enjoy your life to the fullest! I think it’s great you’ve been able to reflect on your past so honestly here. That honestly will serve you well.
    Best, Sally

  • sungiant February 20th, 2012 6:45 PM

    Thank you so much. I am currently in a day treatment facility for anorexia and it is so wonderful to be able to relate to someone like that. I feel the same exact way as you do. I’m eating my meals, and talking in therapy, but I don’t want to get better. I really hope that you can, though.
    Rookie has helped me through times were I have felt so alone, thank you!
    I love you.

    • lorobird February 20th, 2012 7:30 PM

      You can do this! Stay strong! You are lovely and brave :)

    • MissKnowItAll February 20th, 2012 9:16 PM

      You are so beautiful and I hope you can stay string through it all.

  • andrea February 20th, 2012 7:07 PM

    this made me feel so good today, thanks for sharing girl, good luck!!! wish you all happiness in the world :)

  • kadu February 20th, 2012 7:24 PM

    This just made me feel really good about everything and I’m so proud of you!
    I wish you the best for when you talk to the other people at CEDC as a recovery speaker ♥

  • thistle February 20th, 2012 7:25 PM

    thank you so much for this… im in recovery too and its always awesome to hear about people perservering through an ED. they are so miserable, and im amazingly proud of you for all your hard work.

  • lorobird February 20th, 2012 7:31 PM

    Thanks Charlotte for sharing this :)

  • chloelicorice February 20th, 2012 8:07 PM

    I am 38 years old and I have struggled with anorexia since I was a seventh grader. My father loved me more when I was starving to death, my mom never noticed it until I got up to 135 then she tells me I’m fat. I just don’t want to be one of those obese people on the news. I want men to find me attractive, and I want to stick it to my mother. I also want to stay alive and not be hungry all the time. I am so glad you have supportive people in your life who care about you. You may always struggle with this; I think all women do, but don’t give into it. Anorexia is nothing but a vicious circle of self-hate.

  • bear021 February 20th, 2012 8:29 PM

    It’s incredible how I’ve pretty much gone through the exact same thing as you.
    I was in and out of hospital for a whole year in 2010, that whole time i had therapy counseling etc etc etc, but not once did i talk about those ‘habits’, I’m a good lier, story teller and distracter. I really wish I had, because though it has made me a stronger, much more mature person today, those thoughts, that voice, how the mirror makes me feel, that is still going on, and that is not ok. It’s been such a drawn out way of life for me, that though i admire REAL women as goddesses, and I’ll never go back to that place, it’s feels like I’ll never be 100% in my head again.
    You are incredible for speaking out! so so incredible! my god. i could never, not even anything specific anonymously. so, kudos chicka, and all the best

  • February 20th, 2012 8:39 PM

    Charlotte, this is absolutally amazing! Thank you for sharing your story and I am so proud of you, never go back to the way you were in sixth grade :)

  • mwong1025 February 20th, 2012 9:36 PM

    As someone who also suffered from eating disorders, I’m really glad that you recovered from it. Some people I’ve met were never able to move on from their disorders and I’m really glad you did.

    You go, girl!

  • cherryblossomgirl3122 February 20th, 2012 10:08 PM

    This article is so inspiring…Going through all that at such a young age is incredibly tough, and I commend you for being strong enough to endure it, and share your experiences. Your eating may have triggered similar behavior in others, but this article is a poignant illustration of how you can overcome ED problems.

  • TessAnnesley February 21st, 2012 12:05 AM

    Thankyou for sharing this with us Charlotte – it must have been difficult to write.

  • gretagarbo1713 February 21st, 2012 12:20 AM

    your story is very inspiring( but, as dorothy_4_1939 said , sad.)congrats on your recovery! :)

  • fairy_grrrl February 21st, 2012 1:02 AM

    I admire you so much for writing this and I hope that you recover so that you never have to face these things again. I went through an eating disorder throughout all of 6th grade (though not as severe as yours) and now I’m chubby. It’s hard to live and never feel good enough, but it’s beautiful that you’ve overcome such an intense obstacle for someone so young<3

  • littleDani February 21st, 2012 1:07 AM

    I’m glad you are recovering and I wish you luck on continuing to recover. I really hope “Alli” can get help too.

    Also this may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think blindly calling Charlotte and other commenters beautiful really helps, since it comes across as insincere since you’ve never actually seen them. For all I know, they probably are beautiful but maybe saying “you are beautiful in your own way” or “Someone, somewhere finds you beautiful” would sound more sincere. I dunno, just my two cents.

    • Runaway February 21st, 2012 12:02 PM

      I thought just the same when I started to read the first comments. Then I remembered the first time I met two of my guy friends…I always try not to be shallow, but I thought they weren’t very attractive. It turned out that they are two of the most cool and intelligent people I’ve ever met. Guess what? That totally changed my perception of their appearance! I dunno…It’s like one of the commenters said about Charlotte “Your bravery is beautiful”. They may not know her personally, but they know that she is brave and that makes her valuable in their eyes. Saying that she’s beautiful is a way of proving that, I think.

    • missmadness February 21st, 2012 1:24 PM

      I understand what you mean, but I have to say that everyone is beautiful. I a friend with crazy curly hair and giant brown eyes, and she’s beautiful. I have a plus-sized friend that weighs more than society says she should, but until you’ve seen one of her paintings, you have no idea what beauty is. Talent is beautiful, skill is beautiful, laughter is beautiful, being a good person is beautiful– hell, existing day to day in a world as unpredictable is beautiful.

      • MissKnowItAll February 21st, 2012 6:09 PM

        Well said my friend.

      • Runaway February 21st, 2012 6:24 PM

        That’s what exactly what I meant, only better expressed. ;)
        As cheesy as it may sound, beauty can be so diverse and it’s more than just how you look.

      • littleDani February 21st, 2012 9:27 PM

        Oh of course, I’m not disagreeing with anyone who called Charlotte and the others beautiful. Beauty isn’t just on the surface. I was just a little concerned with that compliment coming off as insincere.

      • missmadness February 22nd, 2012 11:37 AM

        re-read this and there are SO MANY TYPOS. that’s what I get for trying to reply on my phone during class :(.

  • junerae12 February 21st, 2012 1:14 AM

    This story was truly moving and disheartening. The author has a powerful voice and a way with words. I too suffered with anorexia in middle school. It saddens me that our society pushes young women to such low, life-threatening lows. It distresses me that our society doesn’t value women — I think that this is telling of how many girls are afflicted with anorexia and the stigma that the mental illness possesses and how horrible we are at treating individuals afflicted with eating disorders . It saddens me that many people can’t afford to pay for treatment for their eating disorders.

  • Kathleen February 21st, 2012 2:40 AM

    Well, that’s inspiring! Because it actually happens, that people gets better from this disease! (Mostly I read about people who don’t.)

  • teen goth February 21st, 2012 3:29 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your writing is literally stunning. I mean, You should continue to write about anything because it is just that good :)

  • emmam February 21st, 2012 5:21 AM

    This really needs to be proofread. There are numerous grammatical errors that make me feel like I’m reading a high school essay hastily written on the morning bus ride. This is a serious issue, and those who write about it should take it seriously.

    • Anaheed February 21st, 2012 12:39 PM

      Hi, Emma. Can you let me know what grammatical errors you noticed? It would be helpful. Thanks.

      • Johann7 February 23rd, 2012 11:35 AM

        I only see one typo: “Yes, I stilled lied about behaviors…”

  • ediesgarden February 21st, 2012 6:03 AM

    This is an incredibly brave piece, Charlotte and I relate to so much in it. Though I’ve never had an ED, I have come very close, using food as a form of control when I’ve been stressed or anxious. It’s so easy to let these sorts of issues and problems get swept under the carpet. We need more people like you, being open and honest about their struggles, which is the only way to de stigmatising anything.

    I wish you all the best for your continued recovery and you’ve done so brilliantly already, you should feel very proud of yourself.

  • Pashupati February 21st, 2012 7:30 AM

    Wow, this really made me cry. Kudos to you and best wish for your continuation, and best wish to the other commenters… I really think you’re strong.
    Whenever there is a mental health-related article, you get it right and it is empowering, plus it is written by people who actually got these problems!

  • emptyveins February 21st, 2012 7:40 AM

    I experienced basically the same thing in 2010/2011 – tons of hospital visits, in and out, lying to my doctors/therapists to get my way… in the end, all the lying and bullshit nearly killed me. Like you, I’m finally getting better but every day is still a struggle. Good luck in recovery

  • isabellehungryghost February 21st, 2012 11:25 AM

    wow. this is a breathtaking story. of course, not in a good way, but yes, maybe at the end. i think alli will get a lot of problems later. but just let her live her life, i think she will do it. well or not.

  • back2thepast February 21st, 2012 2:27 PM

    that was so beautiful, it must be difficult for you to share this with people. thank you!

  • heyguys February 21st, 2012 3:06 PM

    you’re in 8TH GRADE? You go girl.

  • queridahijalove98 February 21st, 2012 11:56 PM

    I just cried a bit. that was beautiful and inspirational and REAL. life was displayed right here, take your notes people.
    you’re in eigth grade- me too.
    but i would never be able to say those things aloud to anyone. <3 my heart loves for you…

  • veevicious February 22nd, 2012 1:19 AM

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this- at risk of parroting the other several dozen people who said so, it was incredibly brave of you to submit this piece. I’ve been anorexic and bulimic since age 17, have been in and out of treatment since 18, and even now, at age 20, still don’t have the guts to talk about all my eating disorder bullshit with as much honesty and clarity as you did. The stigma surrounding mental illness in general and EDs in particular is an ugly thing, and it’s pretty damn inspiring to see someone challenging it. Congratulations on your recovery, keep fighting.

  • bridiebird February 22nd, 2012 1:50 AM

    thank you for sharing this. i feel i can relate in some ways and it even makes me feel so happy, honestly, that you’ve gotten better. keep it up! :)

  • Indi4 February 22nd, 2012 5:29 AM

    You are an amazing writer, and at such a young age! No one should ever feel inadequate as you once did :( I personally believe that we have been brainwashed from a young age to believe ‘skinny’ is ‘attractive’ or ‘superior’. It all just sort of builds up and then one day we realize that it’s all our friends are talking about.. I never used to look in the mirror this much! It’s terrible that I can only ever see my ‘gross’ thighs or my ‘flabby’ arms, and I got so scared one day when I noticed people reassure me i’m ‘skinny’ and all I can think is that they’re lying to make me feel better. It’s such a strange thing – like, where did that come from? I think modern society did it. You are so brave and inspiring to have written this piece; in doing so, you have defied the impossible expectations of the world’s sick body image, as well as overcome your own issues :) so proud xoxo

  • Mama Hep February 22nd, 2012 7:54 AM

    Bless your darling heart. Someone close to me works hard to keep that voice at bay. I understand her a bit more now. i sell vintage clothes and love that this has become a form of self expression for you. One day at a time, lovely woman. x

  • illonablyton February 22nd, 2012 8:16 AM

    Congrats for you! ♥

  • Em February 22nd, 2012 12:25 PM

    I’ve never commented at Rookie before, but I felt this was too important not to say congratulations to you for a)writing this piece and b)going through this and coming out the other end as a strong person. It’s inspirational. Thank you very much for being so honest and open about your thoughts and feelings, I appreciate how hard that must have been, and you did an excellent job. All the best for the future! :-) x

  • violetlilies February 22nd, 2012 3:32 PM

    well done! dont give up, you made me feel so inspired! im in the uk equivelent of 8th grade and this has made me realise just how important this topic is!

  • firstcomestherain February 22nd, 2012 5:55 PM

    This was so inspiring. I kind of had the same problem. I used to have an amazing self eastem. But this year I met this girl. she was a toothpick- skinny. She made me feel fat. It didn’t really help that she always called herself fat. I don’t know why but I felt the need to lose weight. I would make up diets and have goals and try my hardest to lose weight. Sometimes all I would have all day was an apple. So last month I decided this couldn’t go on and I’ve decided I like myself the way I am. And this article has really given me the boost I need. Thanks so much for being honest and sharing this with us.

  • Johann7 February 23rd, 2012 11:46 AM

    Great piece, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m reminded of JT Eberhard’s speech on anorexia, mental illness, and medication at last year’s Skepticon (which might be of interest to y’all):

  • aislingjane February 25th, 2012 4:39 PM

    this is wonderful, thankyou so so much for this. well done with recovery, this is a beautiful piece. i wish you ever happiness xxx

  • Hedwig February 28th, 2012 8:50 PM

    Wow, this is amazing

  • radiofireworks March 3rd, 2012 6:19 PM

    I suffered from an ED from ages 13-18 in particular, and even now I count calories (I’m 23 now). It’s an incredibly difficult “voice” to get rid of, but I think it can be done. Good luck and congratulations on your progress so far! <3

    It's funny that you mentioned that your friend intensified your ED behaviours, because it's just made me remember how two of my friends really triggered me at first – not on purpose, they were just naturally very thin and very sporty, and for a naturally chubby, bookish nerd like me, the only way I felt I could keep up was to just stop eating.

  • violetlilies March 20th, 2012 4:46 PM

    okay so help please- my friend keeps counting her carbs (???????) and her parents dont allow her anything carby. Shes been like this for as long as ive known her, but she doesnt have any allergies or intolerences, plus recently shes got much more serious about it. She makes cake without flour and sugar, bread without flour, pasta lasagne without pasta, and puts olive oil in just about everything. shes greek, so it might just be a culture thing, but should i be worried? at my last birthday she told me- “dont eat too much birthday cake violet, its got carbohydrates and they make you fat”. it sounds like some kind of healthy eating diet like the no-carbs one, but she definately does not need to go on one. she also treats carbs like there the only thing that might create a weight problem
    Can someone give me some advice? Should i tell her im worried? Is it a bad idea? I am just being stupid? Is she putting herself in danger? Is it actually just a completely normal thing?

    • whiterabbit April 3rd, 2012 4:10 AM

      Doing stuff like this is what triggered my eating disorder… She needs to know that carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet and that without them, your body will suffer for it! The rule of healthy eating is to eat everything in moderation – carbs only become a problem when they’re eaten in excess! If you cut them out altogether you’ll feel tired, your digestion will suffer (basically going to the toilet will be kinda difficult haha) and you’ll be missing out on vital vitamins and minerals.

      It sounds like your friend – and her parents for that matter – just need educating on what is really a healthy diet, as opposed to getting their facts from weight-loss books, which is a mistake that so so many people seem to be making these days…

      Hope this helps!

  • KinuKinu March 21st, 2012 3:55 PM

    This was amazing. C♥ngrats to you:)
    To anyone suffering from this disorder you are STRONG.

  • whiterabbit April 3rd, 2012 4:05 AM

    I’m so glad you wrote this – it takes a lot of courage to face up to your anorexia and lay it all out on a page like that. I suffered from the same thing from the age of 14, and was in treatment by 16.

    Now i’m nearly 21 and I can safely say that it does get easier, slowly but surely – even now I’m still not completely ‘normal’ around food, and calorie contents are still imprinted in my brain, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Now I just want to be healthy and be whatever shape or size I naturally am. :)

    Also well done for cutting off contact with Alli – I know she was your friend but it sounds like she was destroying you – both mentally and physically… Stay strong and keep going where you’re headed because it’s an amazing place to be! x

  • olivejuice April 5th, 2012 1:47 PM

    I loved how you focused on recovery. It really gives eating disorder sufferers hope that one day we can distance ourselves from the voices in our heads. I just started a blog for people who have had eating disorders to submit reflections on their experiences and recovery, at My first post linked to this piece because it was so fantastic.

    I am so so happy for you, and I’m also really impressed by the fact that you are in eighth grade and can write/reflect so well!

  • Pikaa April 12th, 2012 9:15 PM

    Its amazing what perception does to us. All through out primary school and well into high school I saw myself as fat, unattractive and unnatural. In year 10, my previously better judgement that prevented me from doing anything drastic disintergrated entirely and I fell into a binge eating disorder (regularly starving myself for days and then binging, before purging and starting again). I lost 15kg, and I won’t lie to you, I felt so very happy every time I looked at myself. But I lost friends, lost focus and made a lot of people worry. It wasn’t worth it.

    With the blessed view of hindsight, I can now look at old pictures of myself an appreciate that I was never fat, I was just normal.

    This article is really wonderful, the story of recovery is very moving, and the psychological aspect is so contingent and relevant. You’re a very brave girl. x

  • caseycat April 12th, 2012 9:39 PM

    such a touching story <3

  • hillgriff92 April 23rd, 2012 8:25 PM

    I just wanted to comment and say thank you for sharing this article! I can relate to this a lot. I’ve dealt with my eating disorder since I was 12 (I’m now almost 20). I’ve gone through the same process many times. I’m so glad that Charlotte has gotten help and is doing better. I hope that she fully recovers and lives a healthy life! <3 This was a wonderful article!

  • bandgeek97 May 9th, 2012 8:41 PM

    I know EXACTLY what you mean. I’ve just recently been declared “recovered” (a few months) but it has been totally worth it. Thank you SO much for sharing. I will tell you that sharing really helps with recovery. It allows you to see what you’ve been doing from a different perspective. I hope that you continue recovering! When I finally gave up calorie counting, I felt so free. I still have that ED voice, my therapist says that it will always be there, but I can now love myself, despite gaining 40+ lbs. from my lowest weight. NEVER give up. Keep going, and know that all of this work is WAYYY worth it. <3

  • OneOfThoseStrangeStrangers May 30th, 2012 1:05 PM

    Beautiful article. Must have been really hard to write. Thank you for sharing this, and I think this could help many other girls which are dealing with the same problem. I wish you luck, and really hope you fully recover!

  • Daniela June 8th, 2012 1:20 PM

    Wow, this is a truly inspirational story. You’re such a great writer too! It blew my mind at the bottom when it said that you are in 8th grade, and I think you’re going to go far.

  • Elspbeth June 9th, 2012 6:27 AM

    I suffered from Anorexia for over a year and am only now truly in recovery. My saving grace was discovering my passion for sustainable living, I am vegetarian and ate my way back to health through organic whole foods and moderate exercise. I want to inspire other sufferers as when I was in a clinic the nutritionists and doctors pushed us to eat crap and sit watching TV all day (that’s not to say they weren’t kind people) but how is that supposed to make someone who obviously suffers from complete lack of self esteem feel confident? By treating my body with respect and listening to what it tells me, I look and feel the best I’ve ever felt. This story hit so close to home, I just hope you learn to cherish yourself and see how beautiful you are, whatever size xo
    Eat a banana gurl and enjoy the fuck outta that nutritious ass shit!

  • theFOIL June 17th, 2012 9:04 PM

    this article has been very inspirational to me. i’ve never really been anorexic, and i have never had a friend who encouraged me to be so, but i have a very close friend who looks a lot like me, we’re both short, have dark brown hair, and freckles, and we are close to the same size, except she’s a bit thinner. i find it extremely difficult to always be distinguished by how i’m the “fat” one of the two of us, even though we’re both normal weights and we’re mistaken for each other all the time, so we can’t be that different in size. and it’s really hard, recently i’ve started restricting the amount of calories i eat every day to 1,700 or less, and i don’t want to be that skinny, i just want to be as skinny as she is, but i’ve been scared that i’ll wind up hurting myself. what scares me more is i actually enjoy the sensation of being hungry, i have suffered from depression for years, and i’m going to be switching schools which scares me, and the hunger gives me something to think about, something that i have control over, it makes me feel strong and motivated. now that i’m thinking about it i can see how actually acting on these thoughts that i’ve had is dangerous and could easily lead to hurting myself, which i don’t really want to do. for me it’s more about taking out my frustration than how i look, and i think that i should just stop the nonsense, i’ll be ok and i don’t really want to be skinny, i don’t want to be part of the anorexic world. thank you for this article, you’ve really helped me.

  • felixfelis June 19th, 2012 10:39 AM

    Before reading this article, I had never thought that anyone was going thought the same competitive eating disorder that I was going through. (Or still recovering from.)

    I’ve spent days searching for a story on Twins with eating disorders, but none of them came out to be the same counting calories, & seeing who was thinner.

    I’m proud to say that we aren’t anorexic anymore – neither do we weigh ourselves! But we still eat the same thing. It doesn’t sound so bad, but it causes so much tension in our lives (with ourselves AND the people around us).

    Thank you for inspiring us to take that last leap forward!

  • tessaaa June 19th, 2012 11:53 AM

    I’m 16 and I’ve been suffering from anorexia for a year. I’ve been too scared to ask an adult for help even though I’ve been trying to get better. I just recently told my group of friends about how hard I’ve been struggling to get better and I have their support but every day I still count calories and criticize myself and sometimes I still make myself throw up. I’ve been really close to relapse these few weeks away from positive influence and I guess this article just gave me a bit of hope… so thank you. I want to be able to stand up in a few years and say that I’ve recovered.

  • Leena The Unicorn April 22nd, 2013 4:20 PM

    WOW, I never been able to put words on my eating desorder. If I ever want to tell the real truth about it to anyone, I just have to link that article because it is exactly how I felt/feel, and I believe it’s kind of the samething for every girls who’s been/going through such a hard time with that desorder. Thanks for sharing such a sensitive part of your life, a hard and rough part.

    xx Leena.

  • Jessi L April 22nd, 2013 7:32 PM


  • Zoe June 13th, 2013 3:58 AM

    wow this is very inspirational, especially because there are a lot of girls- myself included -who obsess about our weight :) good article!