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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spilling Our Guts: Kristina


I met Kristina at CFC. She blew in like a breath of fresh air. At least to me. She sent herself there. She wanted to show her family and friends that she was committed to making a change in her life. When I first got to know her (over a game of Bananagrams) I thought to myself, "Seth (my little brother) would LOVE this girl..." She is so vibrant, honest, intelligent, interesting, beautiful, fun, funny, and lovable. Her smile is infectious. She is tough. She is a fighter. I'm so blessed to know her, and so thankful for her willingness to share her story, the good and the bad.

"Recovery is a process with no timeline. It is specific to the individual."

           So. I am at a total loss at how to begin writing a blog entry. I am not a blogger, I am not witty, and I am definitely no Camilla. I guess I’ll just begin with the most boring and predictable sentence I could possibly write: My name is Kristina Atsalis, I am 19, and I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I have taken a year off after graduating from Barnstable High School last year and plan on attending Syracuse University in New York next fall.
            My childhood was seemingly wonderful. I grew up directly on the beach with the best of friends and a love of books. However, I also walked in the shadows of three perfects brothers. And I mean perfect. They excel in academics, in sports, and now as adults.
            Ninth grade kicked off with the start of cross country. I ran already, but only two or three miles, and joined on a whim. The season turned out to be my first varsity letter, running faster than I had anticipated and breaking cross country records. I was interviewed, I was congratulated, and was proud for once in my life. I continued to run through the winter while fighting ruthlessly for A grades. I kept running and stopped sleeping so that I could study. Running was the one thing in my life I could be proud of; I wasn’t more intelligent than my brothers, but I sure was faster. I finally believed I was special, different, and worthy of being an Atsalis.
            Cue eating disorder. I ran. I remember nothing of this next summer except for running. Rain, wind, 6 am or 7 pm, I was outside. I returned for sophomore year and was followed by whispers. “Did you hear? Kristina can’t run on the team this year. She’s too thin. I mean, look at her.” I was crushed. Running and being thin was all that I had, it was my identity, and it was the only way I fit into my family. However, I was diagnosed anorexic and forced to gain weight.
At school, with friends, I was the loudest, I smiled from ear to ear, I was the girl who loved life. No one would second guess that I was on stage, performing to convince the world that I was “fine”. I went to school believing I could “fake it 'til I made it” and went to bed each night, crumbing and alone, even more defeated than when I woke up. For months, hardly a day went by without a screaming match between my parents and I. The words “I hate you” to my father became second nature. Disgust ran through my veins like poison and leaked into my words and into my relationships; my parents doubled over with sadness as I pushed aside their help without a second glance.
Fast forward to March of my junior year. After three years of avoiding food, depression knocked me on my ass and food becomes the bad boy I cannot stay away from. I binged. Everyday. I grew tired of being impressive, stopped running, and began to sleep my days away. Everyone has a fat friend, it might as well be me, right? I begin purging the food I binged on after gaining so much extra weight that I could not look in the mirror anymore.
I was officially diagnosed bulimic and severely depressed my senior year of high school and left for my first treatment center, Eating Recovery Center, in December. I re-entered treatment at Remuda Ranch in March, and admitted at Center for Change after spending a week in a psych ward this past November. I can honestly say that after three treatment centers, my eating disorder is still here. It screams at me and tells me purge. My family is furious. HOW could I possibly not be fully recovered yet? Their assumption is that I am lazy and not trying. Truthfully, I am trying the best that I can, but I am scared. I am scared that recovery I am not strong enough to recover. My family’s beliefs are seeping into my brain, convincing me that I am a failure for still having lapses and feeling sad.

This is my biggest obstacle: 
Acknowledging that I am doing my best regardless of my family’s unrealistic expectations.

I am learning to be patient with myself, knowing that recovery is a process with no timeline. It is specific to the individual. My path to happiness includes four very best friends and a therapist whom I love. They are my main support system and they keep me grounded and on track. They remind me that I am loved, that boys will be boys, that grades are not everything, and that I can do this
Because I can. 
And so can Camilla. 
And so can you...
The moment we begin to love who we are and forgive the past, the world is ours.

3 comments:

  1. This was a beautiful post! Thank you both!

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  2. You're a beautiful writer, Kristina. Thank you for sharing your experiences and heartaches. This is so real and raw but also so positive and inspiring. My heart and prayers are with you.

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  3. Thank you for sharing, remember one day at a time

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