Mike and Carol speak out against something that could have ended her life forever. I do not own Growing Pains, despite my enormous crush on Mike/Kirk.
"When I first began my "diet" I never wanted it to get out of hand the way it did. I never planned to be skipping that many meals or only munching on rice cakes whenever I felt like passing out. I never dreamt that I would be putting myself in the danger that I was. I had always been a chunky kid while Mike and Ben were slender and active. I would rather be reading a book and eating a chocolate bar than running bases or scoring touchdowns like they always did. But of course, their metabolisms were higher and I started realizing when I went prom dress shopping, that it was time that I tried to lose weight.
At first, I was just going to skip lunch. Who needs lunch anyways? If I ate a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and an apple, I could skip lunch and make it to dinner. If I skimped the mashed potatoes and desert, I figured I would be fine. But I became obsessive with losing weight. Skipping meals soon became an addiction and I realized that I was not only missing lunch but also breakfast and dinner. I'd have a few bites but if anyone asked, my excuse would always be homework or stress. No one really noticed; I never really expected anyone to. I was always the good child and never a problem. Knowing my parents, they'd be too concerned with Mike actually graduating high school and trying to keep Ben out of as much trouble as possible. I was usually the one they skipped over. But I hadn't planned well enough I suppose. I had expected my parents to be the ones to notice if anyone did. I just didn't plan on someone other than my parents taking notice.
Mike and I were walking home from school one day and I had gone without a single meal for the past three days. I would grab a cube of cheese or a Triscuit if worse came to worse. Anyways, we were walking home from school and I had my backpack swung over my shoulder. We were rounding a corner when I stumbled a bit. Mike caught me and made some snide remark about me being clumsy before really noticing me. I guess when he caught me, he must have noticed how changed I looked.
"Carol," I remember him saying, "Are you sure you're alright? You don't look so good." I had insisted that I was fine and that he didn't need to worry about me. He didn't seem convinced. "When did you last eat, huh?" He asked, "I don't remember seeing you eat anything for the past few weeks. Carol, talk to me." I had shrugged it off as stress and swore up and down that when we got home I'd get something to eat. Of course, I didn't. I excused myself to go and start homework before he could bug me anymore about my dieting. But knowing Mike, he just couldn't leave well enough alone. He came into my room with a tray of scrambled eggs, bacon, and a bagel.
"Isn't it a tad late for breakfast?" I asked, un-amused by his futile attempt at getting me to eat.
"It's protein and it used to be your favorite."
"I'm not hungry."
"You almost passed out today, Carol," he looked concerned, "And you're going to eat this."
I couldn't very well argue with him. Besides, I knew he wasn't going to leave me be until I took a bite. When the first bite of egg hit my stomach, I suddenly realized just how starved I was.
"Hungry, huh?" Mike grinned as he watched me shovel food into my mouth.
"Thanks, Mike," I had said as he sat down at the foot of my bed.
"Why haven't you been eating?" He asked.
"Mike…" I blushed, not wanting to discuss this with my older brother of all people.
"Talk to me, Carol."
"It's embarrassing! You'll laugh!"
"Carol, you're just such an easy target to make fun of, I just can't help it. I mean, just look at you!" He had smirked, shoving my shoulder with his fist, "But I do know one thing, I know when to make fun of you, and I know when you just need someone to talk to. Someone who won't make you hurt worse. I can be that person…when I want to be. And right now, I want to."
I remember smiling at that. It was really sweet. Wow – Mike being sweet? Maybe my lack of food was making me delirious. But I sighed and told him. I told him everything.
"Alright. About a month ago, Mom took me prom dress shopping. I was trying on dresses and nothing looked good on me. Everywhere I look, Mike, there are girls skinnier than me, prettier than me. Those dresses would have looked fantastic on them! I just decided to go on a diet…"
"Starving yourself isn't a diet, Carol Seaver," Mike had scolded.
"Besides, remember Paige Patters?"
"The girl you dated a few weeks ago? Yeah, I remember her."
"She was super tiny and thought she was fat. I think all girls have body issues, no matter how beautiful they are."
"Mike," I smiled, "Did you just call me beautiful?"
"No," Mike had shaken his head, "Of course not! Yuck, you? No way!"
"You did! You totally did!"
"I deny everything."
"Mike," I rolled my eyes.
"Alright, you're decent lookin', happy? After all, you are my baby sister. You must have some of the same genes as me!"
"So conceited," I had laughed.
"With a face like this? Who wouldn't be? Look, I have to go meet Diana for a movie tonight but when Mom fixes dinner, you eat every bite on your plate, got me?"
"I mean it, Carol. Eat something! I don't want you killing yourself."
"I wasn't going to…"
"Carol, if you don't eat, you die. Even I know that! And if you died because you were starving yourself, I swear I would kill you!"
"Hey, you're my sister. I might not like you all the time but I do love you."
"Love you too," I smiled as he gave me a quick hug.
"This…never happened, alright?"
"What never happened?" I grinned.
He smirked at me before going to get ready for his date. Mike might not be the brightest crayon in the box but he is a good brother. He was the only one who noticed how sick I was making myself. He was the only one that really cared. Without him, who knows where I would be right now.
It's been almost five years since that day, and I haven't forgotten it. I haven't forgotten how, when no one was there to catch me, Mike was. But I guess that's his job. It was that day that I knew I had to stop hurting myself. I knew that I had to put an end to it. And because of Mike, I can be here in front of you today, encouraging you to love yourself. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. So don't consent. Stand up for yourself and don't be ashamed.
Now, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the person that I know saved my life: Mike Seaver."
"Hi there. I'm Mike Seaver, like Carol said. When Mr. Waller asked Carol to return to her old high school and speak on the dangers of anorexia, I never thought she'd force me to drag along; but here I am. Five years ago, I realized something. I realized I could have lost my only sister all because she didn't feel she was good enough. Know, I know I wasn't the best brother. I made fun of her and teased her constantly. I knew I could probably go over the edge but that never stopped me. I just never thought much of it.
When Carol first told me what she had been doing to herself, I knew that I hadn't been much help. After all, I had been known to call her Porky the Pig. Knowing how bad she felt about herself, I would have never said those things. To me, Carol was just fine. Sure, she was annoying and I'd never admit it to her at the time, but she was pretty. She thought she was too ugly or too fat but the truth was, she wasn't.
Now, I don't credit myself for saving her life. I don't think I deserve that kind of honor but I will tell you, hurting yourself doesn't solve anything. I am a teacher now and I see kids to cut, kids who do drugs, and kids who just want it all to end and these kids are only in high school! High school is only four years out of your life and no matter how bad those four years are, it will get better. So don't hurt yourself because of four years. There is so much of your life left to live. Look at Carol!
Carol speaks out against anorexia and is studying journalism. I know high school wasn't easy on her but she's going to be something great soon – she already is something great! Four years may have been tough but she knows now that she has her whole life to live.
So don't try to end yourself because of a short time of pain. Everything always gets better. Look at Carol over here. Now, I'm her brother so I can say she's annoying and heck but she's also successful, smart, and beautiful. I am just glad she learned that about herself before it was too late. It's not too late for you all either."
"Thank you, Mike, for coming with me," Carol smiled as she and Mike walked out of the auditorium together, "I feel better about telling this to people with you there."
"Sure thing. Hey, maybe we have a future in this."
"Maybe," Carol nodded, "Do you think we made a difference in their lives?"
"I hope so. Even if it's just one person, I hope we made a difference."
"Well you made a difference to me," Carol admitted, "And I can't thank you enough."
"Sure, sure," Mike shrugged, "Besides, Ben just isn't as easy to make fun of as you are so where'd I find my entertainment if you went and killed yourself."
"You're impossible!" Carol rolled her eyes, laughing.
"True," Mike grinned, "Thanks for asking me to come today."
"You're welcome. We said something everyone needs to hear today. I just hope they get the message."