Magazine article New York Times Upfront

A Teenage Athlete Deals with Bulimia

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

A Teenage Athlete Deals with Bulimia

Article excerpt

Sometimes social influence is a good thing and sometimes it's a bad thing. In my case it was bad. Various pressures and misconceptions caused me to develop an eating disorder called bulimia. It causes people to believe that they are fat or obese, even when they are not, and as a result they purge, or vomit, the food out of their bodies. And that's exactly what I did.

The problem started when I was 12. I play lacrosse and basketball, both of which require speed, and I found I got faster as I lost weight. I had always been a little pudgy and slow, but nothing to be concerned about. At first, my weight-loss plan was simple: more exercise and smaller portions. But by the time I turned 13, it mushroomed into full-fledged bulimia.

As I lost more weight, my physical condition actually worsened. I went from being fast and thin to slow and skeletal. I could barely move, and I was constantly cold. In November 2003, when I was 5'4" tall, my weight sank to 92 pounds from 135. It was horrible.

One day, I went to the doctor for routine tests. That night he called and said I had to get to the hospital immediately. I didn't know how sick I was until the doctors said my vomiting had caused various minerals in my blood to drop to almost fatal levels. It was affecting my heart and I could die. That's what convinced me I was really sick. I didn't want to die; I just didn't believe people--even my parents--when they told me that losing too much weight was bad.

Once I was stabilized, I was moved to another hospital. …

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