Although as a baby, my mother tells me I was quiet and calm, in my teen years (before my eating disorder), I was everything but that. I was outgoing, vivacious, and energetic. Instead of walking, I danced everywhere, and instead of talking, I sang or shouted everything I had to say. However, as annoying as all that seems, most people loved me for my bubbly, always smiling personality.
Whoever I was during the years I spent battling my ED was none of these things. Throughout my anorexic years, smiling was painful so I only smiled when the spotlight was on me (literally). I only laughed when I needed to fake it in order to appear normal. I only laughed when I felt forced to imitate normalcy, and the only thing that really made me happy was achieving a new goal (usually weight related).
When I was thirteen (before my eating disorder), unless I was studying in the car, I was always telling stories to the driver or singing and dancing to the latest hit song. When my eating disorder (ED) crept up on me around the age of fifteen, the car turned quiet. I had no energy to sing or to tell my mother about every detail of the day. I was a new Lana. A very different Lana that I am sure my family dreamed of having time and time again, but when they finally got her, even my brother wanted the old Lana back.
While anorexic, I didn’t dance down the hallway or perform for my parents because I wasn’t a happy girl. Instead, the only time my obnoxiously loud self showed was when my anxiety and hunger took over my body and had me screaming and crying over the smallest issues. The anxiety felt like something I had no control over. Before I even knew it, my anxiety would have me yelling at my dad for having the TV on while I was studying or snapping food out of my sister’s hands because she was chewing to loud. I don’t know, nor really understand, how a mental illness like an ED can manage to change a person into someone even he or she doesn’t recognize. Even though I still don’t understand it, I know it does happen since I’ve lived through it.
Although smiling Lana began making appearances when I went from battling anorexia to binge eating, looking back now, it feels like it was still all for show. I was too insecure and depressed with my body and habits to be genuinely happy. However, unlike when I was anorexic, I now had the spare energy to at least fake it on a regular basis.
My mother and I are a lot alike; she talks too much, laughs too loud, and dances at the most embarrassing times. However, when I tell her how loud she is being or silly her dance moves are, she tells me,
“Lana, I will not apologize for who I am. I am aware I am loud, but that is who I am, and I accept it. So should you.”
The person I am today is that smiling, laughing girl that I was when I was fourteen. Who I am today is just like my mother. I talk too much and dance everywhere, but I am proud to be an Energizer Bunny. I know I am a bit much for some people (I am a lot of energy to keep up with), but I would not change who I am for the world.
I spent almost five years with hardly any energy at all. As far as I can see it, all that energy is bursting out now.
I will not apologize for smiling all day, laughing too loud, or dancing at the most random times. I accept who I am, and I treasure those friends who accept and love me as I am!