I was an anorexic for 17 years. Seventeen years of wanting something that seemed so unattainable yet so unbelievably rewarding at the same time. Like most things in life, I didn’t just one day wake up and decide, “you know, I think I am going to starve myself today.” It was a slow progression that began in the adolescent years, specifically in the 8th grade right up until my first-born son turned one.
It all began when I witnessed a friend implement a new diet regimen of making herself sick, working out, and only eating vegetables. This new-found diet of hers brought on lots of attention from both boys and girls. She was gaining even more popularity, and for some reason, I wanted what she had. So, I too decided to start restricting, and to hide it from my family. I used becoming a “vegetarian” as an excuse.
That one decision led me down a path of severe restricting throughout my high school, college, and post college years. I spent many hours in and out of out-patient programs, therapy sessions, and group therapy. I seemed to have created a pattern; eat enough to “get better” to appease my parents and friends and then quickly slip back into my old habits.
I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology and was very blessed to have worked for Ralph Lauren for many years. As you might imagine, working in the fashion industry only fueled my desire to be thin just like a Ralph Lauren runway model. I remember always wanting to be prettier and skinnier than all the girls that I worked with; I was obsessed with clothes and buying small sizes. I could never get enough of that feeling.
Fast-forward to the year 2009. My husband and I are newly married and quickly find out that we were having our first child. Instead of being excited, I panicked. That meant, that I needed to eat. So that’s what I did and ended up gaining over 65 pounds. The pregnancy overall was quite challenging, but it wasn’t until post delivery that the magnitude of my eating disorder began to rear its ugliness again.
I was having a hard time physically picking my son up. I was more exhausted than what’s typical for a new mom, and it had gotten so bad, that I would start snacking on baby food just to hold me over until dinner time (which is the only meal that I ate every day). My husband sat me down and told me, “we need to fix this.” I knew it was even more serious this time, and I too was ready; sort of.
I had made several calls to doctors, but only one doctor ended up calling me right back, Dr. Jinny. That first day, I politely sat down across from her in her small home office and said, “I do not want to be here.” She then looked at me and handed me a number to find on the Body Mass Index chart. I tried looking for this said number for at least a minute. I looked up and she said, “your number isn’t on the chart.” I knew from that day forward that I had finally found a doctor that could help me, that could get through to the disease. And so, my journey to recovery began.
I have been healed of this disease now for nearly ten years. My journey was long; it was hard, but with the help of Dr. Jinny, my husband, and my faith, I was able to understand the scale of how crippling my disease really was. Today, I am determined to use my struggles as a tool to help others. I hope that in sharing my story of recovery people can see how, with the proper help and support, they too can win the battle with this relentless disease.
Whitney Sabins spent many years working with one of fashion’s most iconic designers, Ralph Lauren. It was there that she developed her passion for helping individuals, large teams, and multiple Ralph Lauren stores reach their full potential. Fast forward to 2020, you can now find Whitney helping clients redefining what’s possible by leveraging cloud technologies at Slalom Consulting- a people first-organization made up of experts with global experiences with a hyper-local focus.
Outside of work you can find Whitney enjoying time with her husband, two kids, and their very fluffy dog. Whitney enjoys going for runs to clear her head and tapping into her lifelong love of fashion (and that FIT education) helping executive women and men refine their wardrobe to align with their ambitions.
Lastly, Whitney is available to speak and or share more about her personal experience with her life-long Anorexia battle. She believes that raising awareness is the first step to helping someone recover.
Recovery is possible and help is available, call 1-800-931-2237, or chat at nationaleatingdisorders.org/helplinechat. Prefer to text? Text NEDA to 741-741 for 24/7 crisis support. For more information about resources and treatment options, visit nationaleatingdisorders.org
If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “HOME” to 741-741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.