By Alyce Collins
THIS NURSING student was so embattled by her anorexia demons that she was afraid to even drink WATER.
Nursing student Emily Green (20) from Colorado, USA, has endured a difficult journey with her eating disorder after being escorted to a medical centre by police before sneaking away, and hiding her meals while in treatment.
Emily had shown signs of disordered eating for much of her childhood but was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 16, spending much of her school time in hospital or treatment centres.
During her time at university, Emily saw her worst relapse of all and doctors deemed her too unstable to be assessed as an outpatient, so a campus police officer was required to escort her to hospital. As soon as the officer left, Emily exited the hospital.
However, she began fearing for her life as it was almost 48 hours since she had had anything, including water. At her lowest, Emily was just 6st 7lbs choosing to wear XS which would hang off her small frame. She now weight trains and takes care of her health, she is a happier 9st 2lbs, wearing size small.
To get through her recovery, Emily would write herself ‘I am’ notes each morning to remind herself what she wanted out of life and she would also write down what she was thankful for to encourage her to be positive and have hope in moving forward.
“My mum noticed weird eating habits of mine from a very young age,” said Emily.
“She mentioned this to my doctor when I was younger, but he just said that because my dad was thin that I was built like that naturally.
“At first my eating disorder started very innocently because I just wanted to be healthy and feel accepted by my peers.
“Anorexia gave me a sort of high and I felt like it solved my problems. It numbed me from my anxiety and later my depression.
“In 2013 I went skiing with my family and I was heavily restricting myself. Instead of going downhill skiing with them, I went cross country skiing because it burned more calories. While my family relaxed at the lodge at night, I would go to the gym. I had a routine of walking at least two miles on the treadmill before bed, regardless of what time it was.
“Throughout my time at school I had two admissions at an Eating Recovery Centre in Denver. When I left school, I was deemed mentally and physically stable, so I could go to university to study nursing.
“The first year of university was amazing and I was really thriving. However, I think the stress hit me hard and I had no life outside of my classes, so I had very little interaction.
“From October to April I went down to 6st 7lbs and when I was at the doctor’s office she determined me to be too unstable for her to assess, so she called the campus police to escort me to the hospital.
“The policeman dropped me off at the hospital and I walked inside, waited until he left and then walked back to campus.
“That night, I felt a sense of anxiety and dread that I’ll never forget. It was a Thursday night, I hadn’t eaten or drank anything in over 24 hours and I didn’t have any plans until the Monday.
“For the first time in my life, I was afraid I was going to die. I emailed my doctor to let her know I thought I’d made a mistake by leaving the hospital and she told me to get back there right away.
“When I got to the hospital, I remember crying over the bag of IV fluids because I saw the word ‘dextrose’ and I knew that meant sugar.
“They put me on heart monitors, a blood pressure cuff and an oxygen monitor. My circulation was so bad, and the numbers were below range that they would constantly set off alarms.
“I refused to let my dad see me eat but I had to have a sitter in my room for 24 hours a day. Somehow, I still managed to hide every single meal while in that hospital.
“I became so afraid of food and water that I couldn’t bring myself to put anything into my body. So, I’d go about 48 hours without eating anything.
“It would take my two to three hours to eat a meal as I’d cut my sandwiches into little pieces and stuff them into my napkin and put fruit up my sleeves.
“I was a danger to myself, so if I left the treatment centre they would call the police and I’d get sent back to the centre.”
After she was deemed medically stable, Emily was transferred to McCallum Place, a specialised eating disorder hospital where staff could better cope with Emily’s needs.
Three months later, Emily’s treatment became less intensive and she eventually faced her treatment as an outpatient. In order to start her next academic year at university, Emily had to gain 3st 2lbs in one summer.
“I was discharged from my treatment program the day before I started my second year of university. Over that summer I gained over three stone,” said Emily.
“Since that time, I’ve faced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I’ve made new friends and lost some too.
“I’ve fallen in love with nursing school and helped to deliver babies. I recently ate my first doughnut in eight years.
“I love growing my strength in the gym and I continue to share my story on Instagram to connect with others. I’m not ashamed of my scars but they don’t define who I am.
“I make a lot of mistakes and I try to learn from them and I trust myself to care of myself. My parents shouldn’t have to bury their daughter.
“It may take you years to find what works for you in your recovery, and you may be doing well and then relapse, but you don’t have to do it alone. Discover why you want to live and be healthy.”
Follow Emily’s journey on Instagram @em_thrives.