How I Feel at 108

Worth Living Ambassador Katherine Anne McCain

My name is Katherine Anne McCain, and I was born with one arm. I am a freelance model and a
student getting my degree in Psychology. When I was 16, I started my ongoing battle with
Anorexia and my constant battle with poor self-destructive tendencies. When I was about 19
(I’m 21 now,) I made the decision to go into therapy and to begin my journey of finding health
and to loving myself again. Throughout my recovery I’ve learned a lot more about myself and
my passions, and have found a deep love for helping others and spending time with my friends,
family, and sorority sisters.

How I Feel at 108

108 pounds is the most I’ve weighed in over 5 years. The least amount has been 89 pounds. A
person not considered underweight at my height of 5’ 5” is at least 115 at minimum. I reached
108 during the summer of 2016. It had been a good summer that year. I stayed at my parents’
house in the Chicago suburbs and spent a lot of time with my family.

When I’m at my highest weight, I notice at least 10 positive differences about myself. These are
positive differences I try to remind myself of when I find myself slipping. When I’m there, my
mood improves significantly. I have more energy or a normal amount of energy that you have
when you’re healthy I guess I should say. I look less pale, fragile, and sad. I have thicker hair
which is honestly my favorite thing (besides having color in my face) because with anorexia, for
me at least, comes losing ridiculous amounts of hair to the shower drain. It’s normal to have hair
fall out but mine is way thinner and it’s very annoying and a tell-tale sign that I’m not at my best
right now. The most important difference that most people wouldn’t even think of is my ability
to be present where I am. Without food, protein specifically, your overall cognition is affected by
a lot. Sometimes when I eat very little, I find it 10 times harder to pay attention and absorb
what’s being taught in the classroom. The only reason I do well in school is because I value my
life enough to maintain my weight most of the time rather than lose and therefore I haven’t been
hospitalized. I’m lucky that I’m someone that learns content very quickly because for so long
now I’ve lacked the ability to focus on anything in my classes because of eating so little. It’s like
feeling as if you’re constantly hungover yet I didn’t need to drink to feel that way. I can be
sitting in a classroom and I’ll be in a constant state where the lights in the room are so bright and
where I feel like I’m on the brink of fainting.

When I’m at 108, I feel aware of my surroundings and love being around people and being social
just like everyone else. I love when it’s easy to do this. I went back down from 108 to 100 in
August of that same summer and stayed around 100 for a long while. I also haven’t seen that
number (108) since. It’s shitty luck that I had really because in August of that year my disorder
spiked because I caught stomach flu for the first time and for 7 days the only thing I could hold
down was a few popsicles a day. As you can imagine the weight loss was very triggering for me.
Anytime I lose weight it reminds me how easy it is to lose. I honestly can’t remember the last
time I felt the feeling of hunger itself. Most people have their stomach growl and they feel
hungry and that reminds them to eat. I’ve had my disorder for so long that I don’t feel anything if
I don’t eat. Every single day I have to force myself to eat and most of the time I’m successful at
that. Successful in the sense of eating in general because although I’ve seen a nutritionist, I really
can’t grasp eating all of the food groups or reaching X amount of calories a day; I already have
to spend the majority of the day deciding to eat or not, I really don’t like to stress about what
exactly it is that I’m eating. It’s funny, honestly, because most of the time I know what triggers
me. I know myself very well because I study psychology. When I drink too much I know exactly
why I do it. Last week I drank almost every day because something was bothering me. A friend
of mine tried to force himself on me, and while he failed to do so it was pretty scary almost
getting raped.

I cannot, however, for the life of me, find the underlying reason as to why I don’t love myself
enough to not self- harm. I mean yes, it’s all the normal reasons that someone is anorexic they
have other underlying issues like mine is being bullied and feeling disabled and feeling like I’m
completely out of control because I graduate in two months exactly and from there have very little
idea of what to do and where to go but I cannot figure out what need of mine isn’t being met that
is causing my disorder to take over. I say take over because again, it’s not me. Mentally I know
that I’m not fat and need to eat and am not beautiful when my bones protrude, but my disorder
tells me the exact opposite. It’s almost like I’m back in high school and feeling better when I can
see my bones more and more. It’s honestly funny because when you’re anorexic there are so
many strange ways to accomplish easy weight loss. One is sometimes when I feel cold I ignore it
because being cold burns calories. It’s all so stupid to me that I let this rule my life but that’s
why it’s a disorder which I can’t just shut it off overnight. I have to work on it. I will work on it.
I will state though that the one good thing I’m doing is not going on my tumblr. That website
will completely destroy your mental health if you (very easily) end up on the wrong page. Hell I
almost started a thinspo page when I was seventeen to be cool and I’m thankful I’m not that
unstable now because teaching others to be anorexic or anything is fucked up and there’s a huge
community that does that.

The most important thing for me is the community I have built. It really means a lot to have
people be there for you that actually know what you’re going through. I always feel alone but
there are things that help. One is a girl that I went to high school with reached out to me and I
find a lot of comfort knowing she actually understands what an ED is. The difference between us
is that she’s gotten help and I’m honestly so jealous of that. I want to get help and for now I’m
just glad I found someone to connect with, it was really nice of her to reach out. I’ve probably
shared more with her than any of my best friends, either because I have intimacy issues or
because she actually gets me. I really think it’s because she gets me.

My other comfort is very controversial. I absolutely love the Netflix movie “To The Bone”
starring Lily Collins. It’s controversial because, like “13 Reasons Why” it is a movie about a
taboo subject. I saw the movie in July when it came out and I found so much comfort in it. It has
parts that depict some of my biggest fears but it makes me feel like I’m not crazy. It’s something
that finally validates me. And for me it wasn’t triggering, it just made me feel an overwhelming
sense of joy to see so much about her that I could relate to. I think everyone wants to find
something they can relate to. My favorite part of the movie is when Keanu Reeves (the doctor in
the movie) tells the group of inpatients “every time you hear that voice I want you to tell it to
fuck off.” That was the best thing ever because most days I do have to do that. After all, food is
what gets you places. It’s what gives you energy to accomplish all your goals. I have no idea
when I’ll stop being obsessed with the way that I look but I’m trying my best to focus on the

Last week went from amazing to shit in the span of 24 hours because I allowed myself to sit in
my self- pity following my almost rape and self-hatred and feed off of it. The weekend after was
amazing, my sorority sisters and I went on a retreat where we stayed in cabins and had no cell
reception. We did activities where we wrote each other notes that were anonymous to share how
much we love and admire each other. I was genuinely happy at the retreat. I felt alive, I felt like
myself. It even happened that it was easy to eat. I even got seconds. It’s a rarity that I don’t have
a panic attack before eating in public but I guess I felt safe because I know my sisters don’t judge
and I was in comfy clothes. And I know they want me to get better. Following that came
Monday, the first day I started drinking and starving myself more so than usual. I actually threw
up after having two margaritas that night because I didn’t eat all day. I haven’t thrown up since
sophomore year because I only throw up when I eat absolutely nothing.

The thing besides graduating and relocating that triggered me is date night. It was on the Friday
of the week I started drinking more. Date night is always my favorite event because we pre-game
and do a really cool activity with our sisters and their dates. Seeing everyone with someone
though that’s what screws me up. In the past I’ve brought guy friends or have been set up but
right now I’m trying to date seriously again but I hate talking about myself. Who even wants to
date a mess? Sure no one’s perfect but it’s hard for me to feel beautiful and it’s hard to talk about
how I want to advocate for mental health because of all that I struggle with. This leads to
starving and drinking alcohol. For some odd reason I can drink 10 times my bodyweight in
alcohol and not get sick. Not a good thing but I’m kind of proud of that. Another thing- I don’t
even know if I’m restaurant ready either. The last date I really went on I wanted to eat so bad but
even with a drink I could barely eat one hot dog. I think he commented on that too. Not eating
that much is embarrassing, eating more slowly than everyone is embarrassing, and people
commenting on my lack of eating is embarrassing. I really don’t know how to win with that one.
I also don’t know what it is I’m “supposed” to look like. Society is too weird….first thin was the
ideal but now women are expected to have an ass with their too thin waist? I think my problem is
that my disorder tells me that extreme dieting and exercising (to be thick or whatever it is that’s
expected now) will make me look and feel beautiful.

Despite all of this surfacing right now for me, I do see hope for myself. Hope of bettering myself
I mean. I think it’s an important step to be very self- aware. I know that starving myself and
exercising more won’t make me more attractive or successful…I just have to shut out my
disorder telling me otherwise.

This week had been especially challenging but after seeing my therapist she reminded me how I
felt at retreat. She reminded me of all the good in my life right now and that I have so much I am
grateful for. And even if I forget that, I have hope that I can keep bettering my thoughts about
myself and celebrate all my accomplishments. I’ve come a long way these past 3.5 years in
college. I really like centering myself in things that are healthy coping mechanisms like reading.
My friend Alexis recommended I read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. She’s someone I don’t
talk to often but that I know is there for me and I really appreciate her. I like the book so far. I also
really like “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson, it’s hilarious, witty, and
insanely true. Definitely an amazing read if you’re finding yourself stressed.

My favorite author though who’s written several books that I’ve loved is Colleen Hoover. In her
Books, there’s always something “wrong” with her characters. I put wrong in quotes because
there isn’t something wrong with the character, I just mean that the main character always has
some sort of thing going on with them. Her books are romance- my favorite oddly enough but in
each there is hope and triumph. In one book titled “November 9” a girl is a burn victim and she
thinks she’s not beautiful because of this but finds love anyway. I can relate to that because of
my arm. In another, titled “It Ends With Us” she has the strength to get out of an abusive
relationship that mimicked that of her own parents when she was a child. In “Maybe Someday”,
the guy in the book is deaf and it’s beautiful to read about how he expresses his love to the main
character. She has so many relatable books I’m so lucky to have found her. Books, movies, and
friends really give me hope and strength.

Instagram: @katherineeanne
Twitter: @katherineeanne_
Facebook: Katherine McCain

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