A Wake Up Call

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The story continues... While she desperately tries to control so many aspects of her world, Sam encounters something completely out of her control, that shakes her very core.

Sam's Story: Part 3

At school I was talking to Elissa and another friend about the fact that I hadn’t had my period in over a year and I asking if they thought I needed to be worried. Elissa suggested that I take a pregnancy test. So that day, after school, Elissa bought one for me and we went back to my place. I knew that I wasn’t pregnant and I think she did too. Sure enough the test was negative and I think that gave Elissa the push to talk to me about the reality of what was happening to me. She told me that I wasn’t getting my period because I was too thin. I tried to brush off her concerns in a light hearted manner but deep down I knew she was right. There was no way I was about to admit that though. I know that she kept a close watch on me from that day onwards and eventually, after my hair started falling out, after I developed insomnia and after I experienced the cold in such a way that my bones literally ached for months on end, I started to confide in Elissa. But a few months later, Elissa passed away. 

It was the 18th August 2006, the last day of our trial HSC exams. We had made plans to go into the city that night to celebrate one of our friend’s birthdays.  I had finished my exams the day earlier and I was at home cleaning up my room and trying to figure out how I could escape from eating out in the city that night. My phone rang and on the other end of the line was my friend Justine, in hysterics and making no sense at all. All I knew was that something was very very wrong.

Someone else, who I later discovered was one of my teachers, took the phone off Justine and started to explain to me what had happened. Elissa had done her exam that day, as normal, but when she stepped out of the school hall at the end of the exam she had fainted and fell to the ground. The ambulance was called and she was rushed to the hospital, with nobody having any idea what was wrong with her. We were later told that when she fell she died instantly. It was some time before we knew what had happened and still to this day it’s all a little bit cloudy. Elissa was a very athletic girl and she had injured one of her gluts. But what she thought was just a sports injury had formed into a blood clot and had travelled to her lungs... so she had stopped breathing instantly. 

We were 18 years old and we thought we were invincible. Hearing those words “Elissa is dead” literally punched what little life was left inside of me out. Surely it couldn’t be true? She was one of my best friends and she was gone; I couldn’t wrap my head around it at all. 

I had grown up going to church and when I was in primary school I had faith in a God who loved me and cared for me. But when I got to high school my perception of who God was and how he thought of me changed considerably. I hated myself and there was no way that God could love somebody like me. I was mad at him as I didn’t understand why I struggled with body image the way that I did and I blamed God for allowing me to get to the point that I was at... underweight, depressed and trapped in a body full of self hatred. Why couldn’t he have stopped it?  When Elissa passed away I found myself at a crossroads. I think I wanted to hate God for taking her away and to turn my back on him for good. But I found that try as I might I just couldn’t do that. Being at church the Sunday after Elissa had passed away, standing up the back of the service with so many people standing around me supporting me as a cried, I felt God’s presence and his reassurance that everything would be ok. I didn’t understand why things happened the way that they did but in that moment I felt hopeful; not only that he would be with me as I grieved the loss of my friend, but hope that I could overcome my eating disorder. 

The hardest words that I have ever had to hear were spoken to me at the end of Elissa’s funeral. They came from the mouth of Elissa’s Mum and they were “Elissa used to come home every day from school worried about you Sam. Please go and take care of yourself and get better for her.” I held strong, despite wanting to just crumple to the floor, and promised her that I would do that for Elissa. I would go and I would get better.   

he final piece to the puzzle that is Sam's story will be posted tomorrow. You don't want to miss it! X

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Heidi Lakin

Heidi Lakin is a new mum to the beautiful Emera (born June 2012) and wife to best friend, Chad Lakin. Her story is not uncommon, having struggled for over 10 years with self-image issues that developed into eating disorders, depression, obsessive compulsive behaviour and anxiety. Her success in overcoming such perplexing battles is less common, which is why she founded Blussh - an online initiative that focuses on equipping women to find their sense of worth and committing to a life of freedom. Heidi has a vision to help women through such issues, but more importantly to help prevent poor body-image, self-doubt and everything that follows, in our young girls.