five years, four days, and and 16 hours ago;

it was five years and four days and 16 hours ago.

i was this sad, underweight little girl. who was shaking in her too-small children’s size jeans. angry that she was on a rickety plane on her way to podunk, arizona. where she’d have to be under the watchful eyes of school-marm like nurses, who would be watching her eat three square meals and two snacks. go to chapel every day (except sunday, mind you). and go on bi-weekly rides on an old, cranky horse by the name of “shortstop” (his name suit him perfectly. he looked like a donkey and was a real ass, if i do say so myself).

for three months, count ’em, three months. add that to the long hospital stays with the feeding tubes and the short stay at a treatment center in boca raton, i’d spent most of my ninth grade year in high school having people stick tubes down my nose, ask about my bowel movements, and learning a lot of corny jingles about beating your eating disorder with an awesome set of girls i still consider to be my closest friends.

for months prior to that moment on the plane, i found myself being that girl. you know the one. i calculated calories like a champ, did sit-ups while watching “the biggest loser”, denied any sort of hunger. whether it be emotional or physical. i thought i was stronger than to eat any morsel. besides, i didn’t really feel like i was deserving of such a thing. there were kids starving in parts of  africa and haiti and bangladesh, and here i was eating. not eating was sort of a slapping myself on the wrists for being so selfish. not for the sake of vanity. oh no, please don’t get me started on that.

eating disorders aren’t about vanity. at least mine wasn’t. that was only secondary. you start chasing a number, hopefully in the double digits, but that’s always after the guilt and the suppression. always. please oh please don’t mistake such a awful disease with a cry for attention. i covered my sickly body in sweatshirts and never left my house, it’s hardly a cry for attention. i wanted the opposite, i wanted to take up as little space as possible both metaphorically and literally.


i referred to “him” as “ed”, short for “eating disorder”. they taught us this at treatment so we could put a face to our disorder, as it so clearly had a voice at times. a really loud, booming voice. he was a very stocky bald man, and he conveniently had a hitler mustache. very convenient.

what i’m getting down to is, i’m so glad that this little hitler is out of my life. no more do i worry about where the calories from my oreos are going to go, or whether my sweatshirt will cover up my “gigantic” thighs. no more. but then again, i don’t regret the appearance this little sickness either. it brought me to arizona where i met the most amazing girls, now women, that i have ever met. we could commiserate about having to go to chapel 6 days a week when we were so hopped up on meds that we couldn’t stay awake. we’d all simultaneously go to sleep and then get in trouble together. they’d thought we all planned our rebellious sleeping, but it was really because we were all on the same meds.

we spent hours listening to “veggie tales” at snack time, because we weren’t allowed to listen or watch anything without a g-rating (“gone with the wind” is my favorite movie because of this). my first night, a girl ran away from the treatment center as a joke, and then got a tranquilizer shot in the butt (okay, so maybe this is TMI, but this still makes me laugh to this day).

we all cried together when our clothes didn’t fit us anymore, or if we had to eat another snack. we laughed together when we heard about romances starting between the staff at the ranch (frank the snack guy and candy the counselor?! what?!) and how any guy looked cute to us because the only boys we saw for three months was the guy who did worship at church or our psychiatrists. this was our life. and  i wouldn’t take it back for anything. it was a big sleepover for girls with eating disorders. we were the only ones who could understand each other. and that meant more to me than a number on a scale.

this was me. this was my life. this was me when i was under the dictatorship of a nasty little sickness called an eating disorder. notice all of the past tenses i’m using. it’s gone now.



***if you ever find yourself struggling with any type of eating disorder, please oh please find help. and are wonderful resources. just tell someone. don’t feel ashamed and suffer through it. or, if you feel comfortable, please don’t hesitate to email me at mackenzie [dot] filson [at]gmail[dot]com for any questions or help.


8 thoughts on “five years, four days, and and 16 hours ago;

  1. This article explains “what I see in you (what you are about)” that I could not identify (even now, not fully identify – though)!
    Do you know what caused the eating disorder to START? (you don’t have to tell me, or anyone for that matter!)

    This [article], I see, is another step that you are making toward YOUR “Success”!… (…I see that very seldom in people!)
    However, I/’ve never been a cheerleader…. …so, I won’t start now…

    Did your read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, yet?

    Never become an actor/actress!
    Never get married!

  2. I just found you through Holly and I must say that this was such a coincidence! I know what treatment center you’re talking about in Florida 😀 I actually recognize the woman in the last picture too. Anyway, I can relate to this in some ways. For awhile I wanted to take up as little space as possible too. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way, and that idea took on a physical manifestation. I think it’s wonderful that you have regained your life, and have found freedom. Even though it was a difficult thing to go through, I think of how much more people who’ve gone through really great struggles appreciate life in all of its details and “the big picture” 🙂


    • holy moly! you knew valti?!?! that is so amazingly coincidental! and you said that so beautifully. i would never give up the experience for the world. when you come so close to losing your life, and actually learn how to regain it, you definitely appreciate it a lot more than you could ever imagine. definitely an experience i needed in the long run. thank you for your sweet comment! i love your blog by the way 🙂

  3. Hey Macdaddy,

    You know what’s cool?You’re so vivacious and effervescent now,so very full of life and happy about it,that I had no idea you’d gone through anything like that!You’ve definitely grown into a healthier person,and one I’m glad to know!And you got guts,grrlfran’,for posting this.You are quite the cool person,you know that?:-)

    • marisa, my dear. you are just too daggone sweet. i mean it. too sweet for one person. that was definitely my goal to not have anyone able to pinpoint that i went through this, that was my goal for a very long time, but i think it was time to bring some light to it, hopefully to help other people. or at least shed some awareness. girl, once again. you are too sweet. you are going to be the best librarian in the big city EVER ❤ love love love!

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