Approximately two years ago in September of 2014, my rapid descent towards death began. As a melodramatic teenager, I reasoned that it was the end of the world, although not in the manner that one would think. Unbeknownst to me, my life would actually begin to assume this form of reality. I have yet to spend two decades on the earth, though it feels as if centuries have passed. A recently discovered quote explains, “You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.” I intend to do just that.
As a competitive gymnast for eight years, it was devastating to be put in a back brace for six weeks in order to stabilize injured vertebral discs. I rationalized in my distress that the inability to work out my typical twenty hours per week would surely prompt exorbitant weight gain. Orthorexia is defined as an unhealthy obsession of healthy food and exercise to the point of weight loss, a notion to which I quickly found myself attached to. With time, the restriction of my caloric intake and exercising to “improve” my body utterly consumed every one of my thoughts. Anorexia has placed me in the hospital three times, a treatment center twice, and multiple outpatient providers, but it is undoubtedly the best teacher I have ever had.
The severity of an eating disorder is often not acknowledged by the affected individual. Neurobiological factors begin to take hold, with hormones such as dopamine being released in positive feedback loops while the person’s condition deteriorates, providing a sense that they must keep acting on the maladaptive behaviors. I can testify that, lying on a hospital bed, my heart rate in the low thirties and flanked by IV poles, I had no recognition of what was occurring. Though at the time my malnourished mind held contempt for the doctors ¨undoing” all of my work, they are the reason I am alive today.
An interest in the medical field has always been nurtured in my mind. With multiple nurses in my family, it was never difficult to access stories of life or death situations featuring doctors, the epitome of heros, resuscitating individuals on the brink of oblivion and successfully performing monumental operations. However, I was unable to fully comprehend their duties until my life was deposited in their hands. Doctors and medical professionals must sometimes act on behalf of their client’s best interest, even when they may not desire to be saved. Particularly when overseeing mental health situations, they have the responsibility of providing the appropriate care when that patient is unfit to do so for themselves. Many lives would be spent in pain, anguish, and futility without the authority and proficiency of these individuals.
Both hospital stays and eating disorder treatment centers are incredibly expensive, with inpatient care costing as much as $2,000 per day. Without insurance, my family would have been unable to provide me with proper care, and I may not have survived to tell the tale. My parents have met the deductible for medical expenses multiple years in a row, which allows the insurance company to cover the rest of the fees. Prior to my struggles, I had no comprehension of just how important insurance could be; it is not simply a “plan B,” for sometimes it becomes your only plan. If we didn’t have this safety net, it is very likely that we would have had to sell our house and readjust our living conditions in order to pay, or be unable to treat me. Instead, we are all living gratefully in our original two story home with overwhelming relief in our hearts.
I am applying to college in order to pursue my passion in the medical field, and give back towards the effort that saved my life. One of my core beliefs is that everything happens for a reason. Attending a school that will allow me to promote vitality in its most vulnerable state facilitates my acquisition of that reason.
Till death do me part, I intend to put forth every effort to restore the ill to the lives that they are destined for, much as doctors have done for me. Though my mountain has moved a great distance, there will always be pebbles left behind to keep in order, thus providing me with the vigilance to perform this task. In aiding others and working for the prosperity of all, this is not the last mountain I plan on moving.
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