As you know from my “about me” page, Sarah, I am happily married, working a job I love, and have a big family that is full of love and lots of laughter.
Something you may not know is that I’ve struggled with an eating disorder. In fact, I don’t think it’s correct to say struggled, but rather, that I currently struggle with an eating disorder. I believe that the fight is an ever-present one. Sure, I may be better than I was when this journey began, but it’s still a constant daily fight, with both good days and bad ones.
Let’s begin this story at the beginning…
The summer before my senior year in high school I decided to really get serious about dieting and lose some weight. I certainly wasn’t extremely overweight, but I was a little bigger. Combine that with being 5’10”, and it’s easy to see why I felt out of place. My mom, the constant encourager, hopped on board with me and we began Weight Watchers.
Being the oldest child, and having a very Type-A, perfectionist mentality, I “excelled” in the program. I lost a good deal of weight and got positive feedback. This further encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing. In fact, if I was supposed to eat “20 points” in a day, how much better was it that I would only eat 15, or 12?! In my book, I was nailing this weight loss thing. And when I combined this dieting with playing 2 varsity sports, I was nailing the weight loss! I lost a good deal of weight, and by the time high school graduation rolled around, I was happy with my body.
In the fall, I went to college, pledged a sorority, and experienced lots of firsts. I’ve since come to learn that when things become unsteady, unpredictable, or I feel off-balance or uneasy, I turn to restriction as a way to cope. Needless to say, there was a good amount of restriction going on. But, I had a blast my freshman year and was still at a healthy weight.
During this time, my family also went through some challenging things with one of my brothers. Being away from home during this time and not fully understanding or begin able to be there was very hard on me – just another reason to restrict or place very rigid rules around food.
My sophomore year I met my future husband, fell in love, and was very happy. The restriction hid it’s ugly head for a while because I was too happy and having too much fun. Stress was still there of course, but it was on the back burner, which, in turn, put my “need” to restrict there as well.
Fast forward to the summer before my senior year in college. My parents noticed my rigidity around food and my constant exercising, and thought I was at too low of a weight. Since school had become more stressful, I was at a low weight. I moved home that summer, went to therapy and nutrition counseling, and got things under control. My senior year was all kinds of fun and stress, but I was too busy to maintain too much restriction – although I was still pretty rigid around food.
The following year is where things took a turn for the worse.
John and I got engaged right before college graduation. I was over the moon excited!
I also got a teaching job that summer, and moved to a new town about an hour and a half from family.
Planning a wedding, figuring out how to run a classroom by myself, and living in a new city proved to be more than I could handle. John and I were married in March, and the following June went to the beach with my family. It was here that my mom confronted me about my weight, health, rigid eating habits, exercise habits, and told me how worried she and my dad were. John seconded their concern.
I then began weekly sessions – driving back and forth an hour+ each day – with a therapist and nutritionist that I love. It has been a HARD journey with lots tears, lots of hard conversations, and an abundance of patience on the part of John and my family.
While I’m happy to say I’m in a much better place now, I also know I still have lots of work to do. I now go to see my therapist and nutritionist every other week. I still work with my nutritionist to develop a weekly meal plan that will meet all my nutritional needs, as I still need to put on weight to be in a healthy weight range for my height and age. I still have lots of challenges – it’s hard for me to eat certain foods because I know they’re higher in calories; I often times don’t believe I need to eat all the food on my meal plan; I’m still scared to gain crazy amounts of weight.
While I know these fears may seem irrational to the average person, to the person who’s mind has been/is still at times under the control of the eating disorder “voice” they are very real.
I’m working hard to gain the weight I need to gain. A big sign that I’m not where I need to be is the fact that “Aunt Flo” still hasn’t been back for a visit (if ya know what I mean. 😉 ) I know that my body is still not functioning fully and needs to repair damage done in the past.
It’s still a journey I’m on and one I anticipate to continue, although I know it will get easier, and at times, disappear. As hard as it may get, I realize that I MUST continue in order to live the full, happy, free, joyful life I’ve been given and deserve to live.
Thanks for reading my story! It got a little lengthy on me. I’d love to hear any input, feedback, or stories you may have.