Saturday, February 6, 2016

NEDA 2016

 Seven year olds shouldn't think they're fat.
But I did. 

Seven year olds shouldn't pray to God, begging him to make them skinny.
But I did. 

Seven.
Years.
Old.

I've always had an unhealthy relationship with food, from wanting to eat all of the time to hating to even look at food.

Somewhere around the time when I turned 14, I started to minimize my struggle with my body and would get frustrated with myself for not doing anything about it!

I cracked down. I made daily plans and rigid routines. No one could deter me from my control.

I thought it was a good control. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought this was what strength looked like.

I was finally going to be worthy, good enough, beautiful, etc.

My name is Suzanne and I have an eating disorder. 

Sometimes when I say that out loud, it sounds foreign. It sounds shameful. I mean, I'm overweight so I must be overreacting, right?

When you're overweight, eating disorders are ok, right?

The truth is that this is wrong but I don't always believe this fact.
The truth is that eating disorders are dangerous no matter how much you weigh or what your BMI is.

And the real truth? The real truth is that my struggle is still completely real right now, today, this very minute.
I don't feel out of control. In fact, I feel very much in control. But there's this part of my brain, the part that is healthy, that tells me this isn't real control. It tells me I'm being deceived by my eating disorder.

A few years ago, as I was going through a divorce, I decided to stop fighting for my recovery. What was the point? I felt worthless anyway. No man was going to look at me and my body and my two children and say, "That! I want all of that!". I couldn't stand the thought of being alone forever. I literally couldn't stand it.

And so I tried to make myself more worthy. I gave in to my eating disorder. I was obsessive and secretive. I was creating a new monster, a monster that included more than just Bulimia and obsessive exercising. I had created something much worse---some regimen of eating disorder hell that I could not control.

In fact, the very thing that I thought was giving me control had completely taken my control away. 

It has taken me much of the past year and a half to somewhat recover from that hell. And it has been the exact opposite of easy. In fact, it hasn't completely happened. There have been highs and lows, days where I'm strong and days where I believe everything my eating disorder tells me.

It has been extremely painful to try and recover, only to realize I'm more overweight than I've been in years. Sometimes I question what recovery really is because if it's just weight gain, I want no part of it. 

Sometimes, ED feels like my biggest supporter, my number one fan. Sometimes I believe my eating disorder. Sometimes I am so ashamed of what I look like that I think about never leaving my house again. Sometimes it is completely unbearable.

My eating disorder is a living nightmare. I'm not kidding. It is an all-consuming struggle that can take over in a split second and throw me into a downward spiral of shame and despair.

This isn't something that's cute or trendy. It isn't something that I've done for attention. It isn't something I chose.
The actions I chose, the disorder I did not. 

Friends, I was seven the first time I realized I was fat.

Seven. 

I want that to sink in for you.

It surely sinks in for me.

I have a seven year old daughter. I have a seven year old who looks to me for guidance and I'll be damned if I'm going to ignore the issue of teaching her about healthy body image.

Somehow, someway, I believe I've managed to teach her while also dealing with my personal hell but it isn't easy. It isn't easy to preach about healthy body image when there is a voice inside of my head that tells me healthy body image is a load of crap.

I know it isn't.
I know I can teach her.

But I also need to teach me. 

Sometimes I feel so scared, wondering how I'm ever going to conquer this giant monster. I know I've done it before. I know I've had some really strong moments in the past year.

But if we're being truthful, and I do want to be truthful with you, right now isn't one of those strong times.
It isn't.
And the best thing you can do for someone in a situation like this is love them because there is literally nothing you can do.

I have to fight this. have to change it.

And I can.
I can do it.

I've gone through so much hard stuff in the past few years---I know I can conquer anything.

But knowing that doesn't make the fight seem easier. Knowing that doesn't make the next few weeks, months, or years look super bright and hopeful.

I know there are still going to be some pretty dark days---days where I curl up in a ball and hate myself and cry because all I want is to be skinny and beautiful.
I literally did all of that last night.

But the biggest thing for me, the best hope I have in beating this, is reaching out to my people. Because addiction thrives in secrecy. And my eating disorder is absolutely, positively an addiction.

And I'm sorry if this is uncomfortable for you to read---it sure as hell isn't a walk in the park for me either---but I do it, I open up about my struggle because there are people who are struggling silently. They are your friends, your family members, you.

I plan on winning my fight. Somehow. Some way.
Right now, I take it one day at a time and I fall short every single day. But I get back up and try again the next day. That's just how life works. Failure, to me, doesn't mean I throw in the towel. Failure means I'm still living and breathing and trying. Surely I can't fail if I don't try so that has to mean something.

And I'll get there. I. Will. Get. There. 

A few days ago, I posted an extremely brave video on Facebook with pieces of my story in it. If you'd like to watch it, here it is. Toward the end, it shares some information on eating disorders and how you can help yourself or your loved ones.

I have so much hope for our world. I really, really do.



This month is National Eating Disorder Awareness month. 

This awareness is important to me. I spend a lot of the month of February talking about it because I am passionate about helping others going through similar things as I've gone through and am going through.

So if you'd like to support me, you can wear purple and tag me in your photos on Facebook or send me the pictures throughout the month. Or please contact me to join our team as we walk through the Phoenix Zoo to support NEDA on March 6th, 2016 at SIX AM! It'll surely be worth it and everyone is welcome to join our NEDA team and walk with us. And you're even welcome to come over the weekend before for a t-shirt making party.

I fight because my children need me. 
I fight because I am a child of God. 
And I fight because I have worth.