"Five Pounds Less is Perfection".

"Five pounds less, and you'd be perfect", started it all. When a professional dance trainer told me I'd be perfect for her school, just 5 pounds less, and I'd have it made for myself. So what do I do, I freak. First thought that races through my head, "You're disgusting, how'd you let yourself get like this, no one wants to watch the fat dancer." So I put myself on a diet, and exercised compulsively. I wasn't ever fat, not even average. I was your typical dancer. 5'8 and 125lbs, nowhere near fat. After I heard that though, all I could think about was food, how much went in, and it was always too much. I could eat a piece of a carrot for the whole day, but it was too much. I go for weeks and don't eat anything, but I'm still too fat. Obviously, I dropped the five pounds fast. Too fast. Then it was the comments I received, "Danica, you look amazing now", or "Danica you are such a good dancer, you look so great out there" So I start thinking, "If I look this much better just losing five pounds, what about ten, or twenty, or even thirty?" As you can see, this is where I lost control.

I pushed myself harder and harder until the point of exhaustion, just so I could be perfect. I have always wanted perfection, and for some reason, I seemed to think that starving myself to the brink of death was perfection. Nothing was perfect enough for me though; I could never be good enough and never be thin enough. By the time I dropped to 90 pounds, everyone was telling me to stop, that I had taken it way too far and it was out of my control. I thought they were crazy; couldn't they see all the fat I saw on me? Couldn't they see what I saw when I looked in the mirror? I was huge, and desperately needed to get thinner. I only ate what I absolutely HAD to. But that was too much for me. I needed to be empty, light, and airy. If there was a morsel of food in me, I was huge. To be perfect was to be empty, totally empty. I couldn't eat and be empty, so I couldn't be perfect; I HAD to be perfect, there aren't any options, just perfection.

I began throwing up what little food I ate. It didn't take long for me to hit 80, then 70, and at long last, 60. I had to dance, but it wasn't just dancing anymore; it was somehow different. I was dancing the anorexia, really. My turning got faster, then faster, and even faster, and as I got more out of control, I was spinning, spinning as fast as I was capable of, until one split moment when I couldn't hold myself up and crashed. My depression was out of control, anorexia was out of control, there wasn't anything left for me. So I decided I didn't have a reason to live anymore. I couldn't be perfect, couldn't be happy, why should I exist? I shouldn't. So I landed myself in the hospital with stitches in my arm. I got a little better, but as soon as I was out of the hospital, I was back in the exact same boat; starving myself, making myself throw up, and dancing myself dead. Next thing I know I'm being sent to every doctor in town, and mom's desperately trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. "Nothing", I would tell her. "Nothing is wrong with me. I am in control." However, I knew I had already lost control. I lost control after I kept losing weight past the first five pounds, but it felt like I was in control; and as long as I felt I was in control, for all I cared I was. I just needed control over something in my life, and I could control how much food was in my body. But if I was in control, would I be killing myself slowly? These thoughts plagued my mind. For hours I would lay and ponder why I need perfection, why I had to have control, if there even was control? In a life so crazy and with the world spinning so fast around me, I had to have something I could grasp my little fingers on; something to keep me sane, and that's what anorexia is for me. Anorexia is something I could hold on to; something I decided how far I would take it, or so I thought. I needed to know if I was in control, I just had to find out. I knew I was too thin because I wouldn't be threatened with hospitalization if I was actually fat. I wasn't perfect, but I have to be perfect.

Soon enough I found myself back in the hospital, with more stitches. I knew this time I had gone too far, no longer was I in control; I didn't even feel controlled. I never received compliments about the way I looked anymore, instead I was told that I needed to gain weight, needed to get fatter. I wouldn't do it, I couldn't do it. All of this work, all of the pain, all of the suffering, was it all for nothing? No! Never! I couldn't waste all that effort for nothing but how could I go on when I wasn't in control. I was so scared. Without the control, what am I? There wasn't anything left of me anymore, and I hated it. I had to gain some weight. They weren't going to let me dance anymore. They just couldn't understand, no one could. I had to do it, I had to be perfect, had to be thinner, but they were making me gain back the weight. I "had to" they said. So, with much resentment, I gained a little weight, enough to get them to stop harping on me. However, I wasn't empty anymore, I wasn't perfect anymore. Have you ever heard the saying, "A flat stomach is nice, but a concave one is perfect?" Well I lived by that saying. Anytime I thought I was hungry or I wanted something to munch on, I would remind myself of that quote and the hunger would go away. I could deal with my hunger then as long as I was always thinking about being perfect, and empty. I was always thinking about it, nothing consumed me more than my goal of perfection, and emptiness. I always knew I needed to get better, that I needed to recover but I just need to discover part of me that wanted to recover; it took a long time. I thought to myself, "How can I get better if I don't WANT to do it?" and then realized that if I didn't want to get better I wouldn't be able to.

With the help of a great friend, (you know who you are), I was able to uncover a small part of me that wanted to get better. Without her unconditional love and constant faith in me, I wouldn't be where I am today. She always told me that if I really thought hard about it I would see a part of me that wanted to get better, wanted to get out of this hell. I finally saw that part and I wouldn't have been able to do it without her. At first when I uncovered this part of me that wanted to get better, it was so small, but as I tried, thought about it, and cried about it, I KNEW I had to get better. I've still got days where I want nothing more than to go back to what I used to be, but with the help of my friends I can make it through those days, and onto better days, where I know I have to get better for my own sake, and everyone else's.

"You can't help someone else until you can help yourself."

I think I finally understand what this quote means now, and I'm working as hard as I can to get better. I will have my falls, but in the end, I know that I can make it, and I will someday be healthy again. Just remember, it all started with five small pounds, five pounds that led to a life threatening fifty. Now I'm at a very underweight 77 pounds, but I have gotten better. Even though I've fallen and sunk myself so low, I will pull out of it, because I know now that I don't have to be perfect, because I am who I am. I don't need to change that for anyone, or anything. I am perfect just being myself...