Life Despite ED: My Name is Kristen
Here at The Pulse, I encourage exercise and nutrition that keeps you healthy in mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately, sometimes the drive to be healthy goes too far and pushes someone over the edge. Kristen Bouchard, 21, is a student at Albany College of Pharmacy who is struggling with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. With a competitive personality and a drive to live, she fights every day to beat the disease she calls ED. Read about her journey here and support her in the fight to regain control of her mind, body and spirit.
My name is Kristen and I have an eating disorder.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on more important things. Because I am more than just an eating disorder. He does not define me. If I let that happen, then he wins.
But like I said, on to more important things. Like me! My name is Kristen and I went to a very small school (think graduating class size of 26). I’m sure you have heard this before, but when you go to a small school and live in a smaller town, everyone knows everything. But that’s not always a bad thing.
I remember being known as the “most caring” in second grade. My teacher printed out a little certificate for me and I was so proud of that piece of paper. I hung it on my refrigerator and after it fulfilled its lifespan, I filed it away in my room, tucked into a box that I would rediscover from time to time.
The idea of being known as someone, being defined as something, stuck with me. After that day, I strived to please everyone around me so that I could always keep the title of “most caring.” To me, it was more than a few words strung together. It became my identity. And when that identity shifted to an association with weight, I shifted my focus. Suddenly, being caring meant more than striving to please people through my actions. It also meant taking care of people’s opinions. My thoughts, my actions and my body were all put under a microscope; I was scrutinized for everything because I had to live up to my identity.
I soon found myself resentful of my title; this identity I wasn’t sure I wanted to bear. People often expect too much out of one person and I was usually the victim. At the time though, I didn’t realize someone relying on me could be a bad thing. So I kept plugging away because I was the most caring.
I released stress through sports. I was in love with all forms of them. In high school, I played softball, volleyball and soccer (Of course, these were the only sports that my school offered). One of my best friends, Samantha, was a great goalie. I, on the other hand, was a back-up goalie and spent most games screaming for my life. I was a middle blocker in volleyball and I pitched in softball. I felt so good whenever I played. It became an escape from reality and a time when I didn’t have to focus on my thoughts, my schedule or numbers on a scale. I thrived on the burn of my muscles and the strength I had to dominate in a competition. It was about the love for the game, not a method of weight-loss.
But when I left the field, I found myself squirming under the microscope again. Eventually, the scrutiny consumed me. It entered my daily thoughts. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized I need the answer to one question.
When had I stopped caring about myself?
—Post written by Kristen Bouchard and edited by Samantha Shelton.