Eating Disorder Awareness: My Journey

I went back and forth on topics this week- I have had such a desire to write, but was struggling with which topic I wanted to go with. There are so many great recipes I want to share along with my desire to write about fitness. I feel like I have a million thoughts going on in my head and my thoughts always came back to it being Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I have read from a few other bloggers including beautybeyondbones and discoveringsooz about there journey with having an eating disorder and have admired their strength to tell their story. However, I have always been more selective of who I have told where even some people super close to me don’t even know the struggles that I went through. Honestly there are things I am not too proud of and sometimes embarrassed by. In the end, I felt like if I ever want to speak about my love for fitness I have to tell my story of where it stems from and how I got to such a great place in my life now.

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Do you see that picture above? That is me at 12 years old can you believe I actually thought I was getting fat and needed to exercise to stop the process? I can’t- when I look back on this photo or any around that time period I can’t believe I had those thoughts going through my head it makes me sad when I think about it and wish I could’ve seen that I wasn’t. My problems began a year before this picture, when I was 11 years old, that September is when my grandpa passed away and our whole family went into a depression. I was going through puberty where I didn’t understand the bodily changes I was experiencing and unfortunately I didn’t have anyone to help me through it. I didn’t feel fully comfortable about the changes I was going through or talking about them- they literally made me sick I passed out during the movie on getting your period and missed the rest. So not only was I uneducated at the time, but the only person I felt like I could talk to was my mom who was no longer present due to depression after losing her dad.

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At the time I wish we could rewind and go back to being kids where we were all happy, but unfortunately things continued to get worse. I remember the day I got scared that I was getting fat- I was in homeroom and looked down at my thighs and thought they were getting bigger I freaked out and got super self conscious. The next time I talked to my mom,  I told her my concern and she said to use the work out tapes she had, so I did. I began working out- at first I kept it secretive because I was almost embarrassed that I was doing it, it almost didn’t feel normal to use those as an 11 year old. Eventually, I became more open with it at home and didn’t care if my parents and brother knew. However, I eventually developed a new secret. I was starting to be left a lone a lot more often, which led to feelings of being scared and worried that began causing a problem with food.

At my parents house I never knew when they would be home from the bars. I would come home starving and they would tell me to have a snack (which of course was junk food) and that they would be home to make dinner soon. I would have a small snack, but eventually I would feel starved where I either had to fend dinner for myself or would fill up on junk food that we had. At my grandparents house, they always had way too much junk food and when they left after dinner I would overeat way too much- it almost became my new comforting technique when I felt so alone. Of course, afterwards I would over exercise for hours usually about 3 and try to work off the damage that had been done. I thought I was preventing an eating disorder because every day in the beginning I would try to starve myself, but couldn’t go through with it and would eat. However, later on I did find out that this was an eating disorder and was considered bulimia even though I wasn’t forcing myself to throw up.

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As I got into high school everything got worse I would miss my period for months at a time and was super self-conscious- my working out became a priority where I had to work out in the morning and night. I couldn’t control myself when I was alone with candy and junk food-as much as I wanted to especially when I started to feel sick- I grew a hate for dessert that I once loved and never thought I was going to be happy again. I became very depressed and thought about suicide a lot, but thoughts of my family prevented me. My parents were concerned about my exercise, but I felt like they didn’t understand especially when they didn’t see all the reasons why I needed to do it.

One of my first big turning points was my senior year of high school, when I had to do a report on an addiction and I found exercise addiction. As I did research I became very scared for my own health and decided that I needed to do something. I went to my mom and told her what I had discovered, and her and my dad seemed very relieved and right away got me the help I needed. Of course, we kept all of this a secret about me getting the help I needed- even to this day my grandparents don’t know. I went to a doctor that then recommended me to a counselor and dietitian. At the time I don’t think I was as ready to get the help I needed. I remember going to the dietitian hoping that she would tell me that I couldn’t eat sweets and that my life problems would be solved, but that wasn’t the case. I wanted help very badly, but I didn’t know how to fix any of it. The counselor was good, but I was scared to open up about things at home because I didn’t want my parents to get in trouble. I only got the help I needed for a couple of months before I went off to college- I felt somewhat better but there was still so much unsaid.

When I went off to college, I became more social again and was putting myself out there more than I ever had since the eating disorder began. I had a lot of hope that maybe things were changing for me, but they didn’t. Not having my bedroom to workout in everyday was putting weight on me especially with all of the unhealthy choices I had. I still used the fitness center as much as possible, but now trying to fit a social life with school and exercise was a lot more challenging.

I finally got my first boyfriend that gave me a confidence boost, but unfortunately he wasn’t as understanding about the problems I had and how to fix them the healthy way- he thought I should restrict and starve myself along with working out. I kept saying no to the idea until that summer started. I got desperate and I wanted the support so I decided to do it his way.

I would restrict the amount of food I ate and measure everything- I ate super clean I wouldn’t even put salad dressing or anything on my lettuce. I would starve myself up to 4 days at the most and then give myself a day or so to eat. I worked with my dad that summer and would pretend to eat on my lunch breaks or tell people in my life that I ate when I really didn’t. I became so miserable and weak- I wanted someone so bad to notice but no one did. They were concerned, but I had to tell them for them to find out, which wasn’t till later on. At the time the only person I told was my brother, but I told him to keep it a secret.

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I lost 20 pounds that summer! Within just a couple of months- I would get frustrated with the fluctuating of weight going up and down on the scale. Once I went back to college that next year I kept restricting and felt super unhappy. I felt alive with getting skinnier and gaining confidence from that, but I wasn’t truly happy and felt restricted in life. After 6 months of not getting my period, I decided to get some help I went to a doctor on campus told her my situation she gave me a pill that I took for 10 days and got my period back. She recommended me to a dietitian and counselor on campus.

I saw the dietitian for a year, which was one of the best things that ever happened to me, she helped me get back to healthier eating and helped me overcome the binging that I had experienced. I am proud to say I have stayed strong since and don’t even have those urges anymore, but I know a big reason why- my counselor.

She was the true hero of it all I saw her the rest of my time at college. I needed the multiple years of counseling because I was going through things both in the present and past that had caused and continued the eating disorder. She helped me see where my eating disorder stemmed from along with allowing me to deal with my past like helping me forgive people and help the younger version of myself that felt abandoned and alone. Learning how to soothe and help the 11 year old me was such an important part in my recovery along with dealing with my past issues and helping me figure out how to solve my current ones. I even had a conversation with my mom later on about everything that I found very helpful and was able to forgive a lot of the past hurt.

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You may be wondering why I chose this picture- I chose it because I am proud of how far I have come. To be a RECOVERER something I never thought was possible after struggling with eating disorders and an exercise addiction for so many years I am proud to look at this picture. I think about the strength and perseverance I needed to get to this- to no longer have the eating disorder voices in my head, to exercise a healthy amount everyday, to look at my body and think that I am in good shape, to make sure I eat mainly healthy but can have sweet treats if I want but don’t have to worry about not being able to control myself, and finally to feel happy and confident again with my body that allows me to be myself again and not hide from everyone is a gift in its self.

Of course, I know that with having those issues it caused a lot of damage to my body that I am very aware of and try my best to take care of myself now to prevent future problems. Also I still have days where I look at my thighs and think I could do better, but I always take another look and remember that I still look good and that we all have those days because of what society portrays we should look like.

I hope my story helps any one out there struggling or knows someone struggling with an eating disorder.

Thank you for reading along with any comments or likes ❤

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Danielle, You are an amazing woman! You fought a hard battle and you won, and you are aware that society dictates what we should look like. You are beautiful inside and out….and don’t forget that! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awwww thanks Mary I appreciate that means a lot to me 🙂 ❤ I definitely learned a lot and became a stronger person from it all 🙂 Can only hope that we can prevent this for future generations and help others through it 🙂

    Like

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