What better way to start out 2013 than with a really honest post? Today’s blog is on a topic that has had a huge impact on my life. It won’t be funny or witty and you may think very differently of me after reading it. I’m ok with that. It will help you understand a little bit more about where I’m coming from on a road to wellness. The reason I even started blogging was because I feel like I have learned life changing lessons on my journey and I’m hoping to help others who may be struggling. I plan on making 2013 the best year yet.
Many of you may already know this, some may not, but I began struggling with disordered eating in high school. It got worse in college, when I had a ton of freedom and little accountability. Add to the fact that I was a collegiate distance runner and there was a recipe for disaster. It seemed like the more weight I lost the faster and more successful my running was. Wrong. After peaking my junior year in cross country and qualifying for nationals, I couldn’t hang on during track and was constantly battling injuries and fatigue.
My disorder peaked in nursing school in 2009 when I was completely overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. I didn’t know how or have the time to learn to cope with stress in a healthy way so I used food an exercise as a way to handle my emotions. Although I was never severely underweight, my eating habits were far from “normal”. Looking back, all I really did was make a challenging situation exponentially more challenging… Add not fueling your brain and waking up at ungodly hours to exercise to a rigorous nursing curriculum and clinical hours and you. get. disaster. Emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Fast forward to the first year of our marriage. Although I was under a lot less stress since graduating nursing school, I was still living by the rules around food that had made me feel safe for so long. I was having trouble finding a nursing job at the time, so I began some seeing a therapist in my free time.
To our surprise on April 3, 2011, we found out we were expecting a baby! Along with the joy we felt, there were also the feelings of shock and anxiety. I told myself I could handle it. After all, what mother can’t do simple things like eat right and exercise moderately for her baby? I couldn’t. My mind was in a bad place and I was really struggling. I knew all the “control” I thought I had over my weight and body were pretty much going out the window and there was nothing I could do. Looking back I can see how selfish it was and I feel sad about that. When I didn’t gain weight the first trimester, something in me knew I couldn’t do it alone. I was very lost and very sick, but at my core I knew I loved this unborn child and my husband and ultimately myself enough to do something differently.
Joe and I flew to Denver, CO on June 28 so that I could begin my journey to a healthier life at a place called the Eating Recovery Center. I checked in the next day, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. Boy did I find out! The second day there I begged to come home. I bargained and pleaded and cried and screamed and even went so far as to pack my bags and walk out of there vowing never to come back. Through it all Joe and my family didn’t give up on me. I can’t thank them enough and I tear up just thinking about it. Remembering myself at that place really saddens me, and it also empowers me to keep moving forward and work harder each day to better myself. Not only for my family but for myself and ultimately for a God who created me to live, have, and be so much more.
I stayed at ERC until the end of August. Was it the hardest, most painful two months of my life? Yes. Would I do it again in a heartbeat for Noah or another baby if I had to. Absolutely. After coming home I began doing some intensive outpatient treatment in Houston at a place called the Sentido Center. It’s been life changing in more ways than I can begin to tell you and I still go there twice a week. I’ve learned what eating disorders (and most addictions and compulsive behaviors to be honest) are really about… the need for control, trauma that hasn’t been processed, not feeling seen or heard for who you really are, boundaries with yourself and others, a way that unexpressed emotions find their way out… just to name a few.
I am actually thankful for my eating disorder because it gave me a way to cope during hard times in my life when I didn’t know another way how. But it wasn’t serving me to continue to live in that way and I am learning how to do life differently. Am I perfect at it? Goodness NO. I don’t want to be, Am I growing? Yes. And that’s all we as humans can strive for, right?
One of the major things I have learned through this process is how to surrender. Why do I have the thought that I need to CONTROL everything in order for things to turn out ok? It’s not true! When I accept that something greater than me is at work in my life (and that His plan has ALWAYS proved to be more awesome than whatever I thought I needed/had planned for myself) things are so much easier! I don’t know about you but I like easy…
So anyway, this is getting lengthy and is really just a glimpse of the past few years. I can get really down on myself and feel like a terrible person for the struggles I’ve had but I know that EVERYONE has their strengths and weaknesses and we all go through tough stuff. Tough stuff builds character. Some things I really value though are honesty and living with an open heart, so by sharing this with you I feel that I am living out those values and not hiding it with shame and embarrassment (although I definitely have those, too.)
It’s always hard for me to publish this kind of personal information because even though I’m working on not caring what people think, I still do… a little bit. So here it goes 3. 2. 1. enter.