Amy Dittmer “I’m surviving”
“I am 23 years old. I live at home with my parents, I don’t have a job, and I have been on medical leave from my college for three years,” said Amy Dittmer, of her six year struggle with an eating disorder.
“I was originally diagnosed with ‘Eating Disorder Not Other Wise Specified,’ meaning I did not meet full criteria for bulimia or anorexia. 50-70 percent of diagnosed eating disorders are EDNOS,” said Dittmer. “EDNOS is especially dangerous because it so easy for the person with the illness to say, ‘well I don’t meet the criteria, therefore I’m not sick,’ and refuse treatment. I was diagnosed at the age of 16, which is when I sought treatment.”
Dittmer explained that she had experienced symptoms of an eating disorder as a young child, but it fully manifested itself when she was 16.
“By the time high school came, I was purging multiple times every single day and obsessively counting calories and working out,” said Dittmer. “When you purge, you are putting a lot of strain on your heart…My skin was grey, not just pale, I passed out on a couple of occasions. On Valentine’s Day when I was 17, a year after my parent’s discovered my eating disorder; I was sent to the emergency room because there was blood in my vomit. All the while I was exercising five hours a day.”
Dittmer’s disorder brought on a host of further complications, including a heart arrhythmia, vitamin deficiency, orthostatic blood pressure, and dangerously low cholesterol.
“When I was barely 18, I was given a month to live…A month after I turned 18, I was told I needed to go out of state to a different hospital due to all of the internal complications,” said Dittmer. “Treatment worked on and off for many years. I relapsed, a lot.
“It doesn’t matter how much treatment or what kind of treatment a person gets, at the end of the day, recovery is a choice,” continued Dittmer. “It is a choice you must make over and over, every single day. Accepting the love and support that I believed I didn’t deserve has helped immensely, knowing that no matter what, no matter how bad it gets, there are people that will be there and who won’t give up on me.”
Dittmer however, holds high hopes for her future, saying, “I’ve learned so much about life, recovery and myself this year. One of the most important things that I figured out is that I am really not a failure at all. On the contrary, I am quite successful. I mean, I’m really, really successful. The biggest and really only reason that I feel this way, is there mere fact that I am here, alive and breathing.
“Now, here I am. I am struggling and I am doing well. I am happy and I am sad. I am anxious and I am relieved. I am terrified and I am optimistic. I am a lto be a balancing act of the emotions I used to be so afraid of feeling. I am adapting and I am learning and I am coping. Somewhere along the line, I realized that allowing myself to give in to my demons and stop fighting when I had fought so hard for so long would be like treason, to myself and to all of the wonderful people who have helped me along the way. And giving in and giving up, that would the most indisputable definition of failure.”