Down to the bones

Amaiya Kyles hard work allows her to compete on multiple lacrosse teams.

Mackenzie Lawler

Amaiya Kyles’ hard work allows her to compete on multiple lacrosse teams.

Amaiya Kyles

“If you don’t start eating, you are going to die.” 

   The room went silent after that. I could feel the doctor’s eyes from across the cold office. I reread the same three infographics on the wall about child obesity and smoking instead of listening to her.

   All of it began one small week during the summer of 2014. From that point on, I continued to struggle with anorexia for another seven years until the summer of 2021. I never received proper help until just a few weeks ago when I finally decided to open up to my doctor.

   That’s how long it took for me to open up. Every day it was the same thing. Check the scale. Visiting the small blue scale with white numbers in the bathroom became a daily habit. The bathroom was an especially silent place in the house. It was just me and my thoughts trapped inside of that small room.

   It would’ve been nice for someone to say it wasn’t my fault, but that wasn’t the case. Doctors, parents, even some of my friends told me I was purposely starving myself. 

   How does a 10-year-old even comprehend that?

The Reality of Struggling

   Along with anorexia, anxiety also began to develop.

   The situation didn’t matter. No matter where I was I felt the eyes of everyone on me. Were they watching me? Of course not, but that’s what anxiety does to you. Anxiety makes us think everyone cares about all of our actions even when they don’t.

   As I entered middle school, the anxiety only got worse. To everyone else, I gave off the impression of a smart person. My homework would get always done early, and I would always be on top of any assignment, especially science. 

   Advance science in 6th grade was a hard time. Every single week, I heard my name called for the vocabulary contest winner. It was the same routine; every Monday my name was called from the front of the room. Everyone in the class groaned and complained because a new person didn’t win. The weekly walk up to the teacher’s desk scared me the most. As soon as I would claim my prize, “friends” would almost immediately ask me for it. Did I give it to them? Without question. I don’t remember a single time I kept the prize I won.

   Trying to perfect every assignment became an obsession that I could no longer control. I was scared of teacher confrontation. In my eyes, pleasing everyone else other than myself would make me happy.

   This was a new level of anxiety. Everything became a fear. My assignments had to be nearly perfect or else I was a failure. At this point, my anxiety was still undiagnosed. 

   I was spiraling downhill without even knowing it.

   To everyone else, I was extremely obsessed with my grades, and I was always worried about what others would think about me.

   The anxiety continued to develop, and depression began to roll in. 

   At school, I was constantly thinking about my image. More than I already did before. At night I would go home and overthink every single little thing I did. 

   Even if nothing was wrong, I would spend my night with constant racing thoughts. Do my friends even like me? Was she talking about me? Are my A’s good enough? These same questions ran through my head. They were unavoidable.

   At this point, emotions, stress, and fear were all mixing together. Communication with my family was minimal. I began to eat dinner alone so they couldn’t see me eat, and I lost out on many opportunities to make memories with potential friends because of my racing thoughts. 

It was hard for my friends to invite me to events because they knew I wouldn’t talk during the event.

   My self-worth struggles came to actualization when I entered high school.

   Those same questions continuously ran through my mind.

High School

   The first semester of freshman year was easily the most difficult time. As a result of walking between buildings and not eating, I was losing so much weight. The four-minute walk from one building to another took all of my energy for the day.

    I was completely losing myself. 

   My only motivation was not wanting to let my family down, so I pushed through. Toxic friends, harder classwork, and little energy from not eating made freshman year seem impossible. 

   The unwanted thoughts increased almost every night. Falling asleep was the most difficult task of each day. 

   Before I knew it, my 4.0 GPA went down. That was when my mental health completely hit rock bottom. 

   I didn’t have the energy to maintain my idea of perfection anymore, and the rest of me was slipping away with it. I realized that perfecting everything wasn’t something that made me happy.

   Paying attention to anything other than my thoughts became a hard task. The nightly thoughts eventually followed me throughout the day and made it impossible to pay enough attention to complete even the simplest tasks.

   That’s when I finally found lacrosse. After the first few weeks, my teammates made me realize that this was what I wanted to do.

   It was late sophomore year when I decided to switch to one of the most difficult positions on the field. A goalie requires lots of energy and strength; I had neither.

  June 2021. It was the first practice for my new club team. Everything was fine until I got hit with a shot. Immediately, I felt a burning pain in my thigh. The shot wasn’t hard at all. It wasn’t even close to the speed someone would shoot in a game. I instantly stepped out of the goalie’s crease, “Can I really do this?”

    I was committed, but I couldn’t get the courage to fix the issue. After I realized I wanted to play in college, I knew I had to get the help I needed.

Another Beginning

   This past month, I finally got enough courage to put an end to this long battle. I was sick of anorexia, anxiety, and depression taking control of my life. 

   As I entered the doctor’s office again after my 16th birthday, I was nervous. I anticipated she would talk about my unhealthy weight again, which she did, but this time it was different. I opened up about not being able to properly eat, and that’s when the diagnosis began. 


   Even though it was a new doctor and not the same one I’ve been visiting for the past 15 years, I felt like I could feel safe for once. The cold office didn’t feel so cold anymore. 

   After a long conversation about the anxiety caused by anorexia, we finally decided to start an anti-depressant for the first time.

   To me, the medication was a gift from above. After continuing the medication for a few weeks, I was finally able to eat properly again, and my anxiety was suddenly calmer. There was one main thing I was worried about. The first day of junior year. Since I hadn’t been to in-person school since freshman year, I was worried that the same events from before would happen again. 

   As I walked into the school for the first time in over a year, the feeling wasn’t the same. I didn’t feel any eyes on me, there wasn’t a need to complete every single thing with perfection, and for once I wasn’t stressed. Finally, everything I was working at was at homeostasis.

Moving on

   Even though anorexia nervosa has hindered seven years of my life, I plan on moving on and never returning to that lifestyle again. 

   For the first time in years, I have seen a slight dramatic increase in my weight. The progress I’ve made in these past few weeks is greater than the progress I made in years. 

   Although developing is great, I will never fully escape that time of my life. The illnesses aren’t as severe as before, and I am finally able to sleep without my head racing, I am finally able to walk through the hallways of school without panic, I am finally able to enjoy eating meals with the people I love the most, and most importantly, I finally feel like me again.