Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Eating Disorder Awareness 2017


I kind of cannot believe that it is 2017---that I am now participating in National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week for the FOURTH time.

I remember the first year I spoke about NEDA week in 2014, it wasn't the full story. I wasn't yet ready for that. I wrote about my past history with an eating disorder here but I wasn't ready to speak up about how my struggle had not only come back but, this time, with a vengeance.

I was so afraid of what people would think about me.

Eating disorders seemed like a taboo subject if you were talking about current life events. 

In July of 2014, I started to open up a little more about my eating disorder struggle being a current event and not just a past life event. You can read about that here.

But one of my favorites, one of my most cherished memories is the night I hit my rock bottom. Instead of being in control, my eating disorder was now controlling me. 
And that night, while sobbing on my kitchen floor, my little red-headed boy poked his head around the corner and brought me a pillow and a blanket and just laid there, stroking my hair while I cried.
You can read that beautiful post here.


The thing is, I've talked about this subject a lot since then. I've been up and I've been down. I've felt like a fraud and I've felt like a warrior.

And this year is a time where I genuinely don't feel like a fraud. 

I have fought so hard for this. 

I don't need to retell my story. You can read that post here.
Instead, we are going to go back in time, back to when things weren't always so rosy.

And I made this decision to share some personal journal entries with you because I want you to be aware of the power of eating disorders.

These words are all mine from various times throughout the past three and a half years. 

Oh, also, I swear a lot in my journals and I didn't change any of the words here so...you know...you've been warned in advance.


"I broke down yesterday.
It was one of those moments were, on the inside, I had completely lost my shit, but on the outside, I was acting totally fine.
I was fighting within myself---eating disorders are good, no they're bad, no they're good, no, no, no, no, no---*brain explodes*.
And I'm pissed. Because I have so many reasons to be happy. In fact, there are so many reasons why I AM happy.
But on the inside, when I allow my thoughts to turn to body image, I lose control. I cannot handle it. I fail at every recovery measure I've tried. I hate my body. I get angry at it for not being perfect.
Recovery tells me that my body has birthed two children, that it can dance and still do incredible things.
Ed tells me none of those things are good enough, that I'd be worth something if I'd just stop eating.
Stop. Eating.
I tell myself this daily. And then when I do eat, I hate myself for making such a bad life decision.
Because even though my life is so beautiful, it'd be even better if I was beautiful. My body doesn't match the life I'm living. It isn't beautiful.
I want to be beautiful.
And the only reason I'm still fighting is because I've heard stories of the damage and the heartache. In fact, I've been those stories. I've been ruined before. But if it weren't for journals, I wouldn't remember those broken stories because right now, when I look back, all I remember is feeling so strong and accomplished and worthy.
And I want to feel those things all of the time.
A part of me still feels like fighting is the right choice. And the other part of me feels like fighting isn't worth it.
So badly, I wish this wasn't my life. You have no idea how much I wish this wasn't my life.
To feel happy with your life while fighting or not fighting inner demons, that just doesn't seem fair.
I want to feel happy without hearing so many hurtful things being said about me inside of my brain.That girl in there, she is mean. She is cruel. She has extreme standards. Not for everyone, just for me.
Sometimes I don't get how I can be her, how I can be so concerned with loving and accepting others without being that way with myself.
Sometimes I feel absolutely crazy." 

"Fighting is hard.
I feel this sense of pressure that I'm supposed to be fighting for myself every day and a lot of times, it's too much. It is too damn much.
People say I'm strong. I even say I'm strong. But at night, when I think back on the day and the amount of times I gave in to my eating disorder, I realize just how weak I am.
I don't know if the trauma from the past month has made it worse but I feel like crap all of the time these days---obsessing over my food intake, purging many times a day, looking in the mirror and seeing fat fat fat fat fat fat fat and a whole lot of ugliness, weighing myself in the morning and wanting to throw the scale out the effing window.
I act like I'm fine. Am I fine? I feel fine. I feel like this is who I'm supposed to be. I feel like if I can just lose weight, I'll be happier than ever before. I believe that. I remember last March/April when I was going to the gym daily and starving myself or obsessively purging. I was beginning to look better. I was beginning to feel in control while simultaneously getting out of control---irony? Sure.
I think that's the thing I hate most about eating disorders. I crave the control but after a while, I lose control. But in a weird twisted way, the loss of control also feels good because my brain is saying, "This is what you've wanted! This is total commitment and you will love yourself soon.".
Soon?
When does "soon" happen? Does it end with the specific amount of weight I've dubbed as "worthy" of my approval? Or will the number just get lower each time I reach a goal?"

"There is so much fear involved with an eating disorder. Recovery and addiction both involve fear. Neither seems 100% free of it.  
I was sick this weekend and unwillingly threw up a few times. I went to church today still feeling a bit nauseous so I didn't eat beforehand and I slept in and missed an hour of church.
As I walked the halls, I was getting stopped over and over again by women asking me how I've lost so much weight. At first, I felt awkward. Would they like to know what my real secret has been? But after the first two stops, I started to feel good. I felt a little more confident and a lot more beautiful. I felt the attention and I soaked it in. 
And I couldn't bring myself to keep food down the rest of the day. 
So tonight I tried to reel in my safety nets by reading my journal and as I read a few key entries, I remembered.
I remembered the night I blacked out in my own bathroom and all I could do was crawl into my bed and hope I'd be awake the next morning. 
I remembered the times I would be running at the gym and my vision would blur as I pushed my body beyond what it should've been capable of doing." 

"Ed tells me a lot of heavy things when I compare myself to the people around me. He tells me that if I lose 20 more pounds, I'll suddenly feel "good enough". He tells me that I am a horrible mother and that I am the reason my spouse was addicted to pornography. He tells me that I should be more self-conscious than I currently am. When I start to feel any amount of confidence in myself, he laughs in my face and tells me the people who say nice things about me are doing so because they feel sorry for me. It's so hard to believe that people say things because they truly mean them. It is so scary to trust people.
At church today, a woman asked me how I'm getting so skinny. I looked at her with bewilderment. Me? Skinny? Ha! But I told her a friend had referred to this as the "divorce diet" because I just don't have an appetite right now because of stress. It was a lie. I hate lying. I wanted to tell her how I'm struggling with an eating disorder---and not just "an eating disorder" but bulimia, an eating disorder that doesn't come with loss of appetite very often. I wanted to tell her how I hate the girl I see in the mirror. But I have no idea what to say in these situations. I am not ready to just be "the girl with the eating disorder" or "the girl with the eating disorder because her husband left her". I want more of an identity than that and I'm afraid if I tell my real story in the middle of my struggle, I will get lost somewhere in there. When I'm stronger and have the confidence to help others with all of this, I know I will be able to tell my story and still be me."

"Today I tried hard. I mapped out my safe foods and put each of them around a meal time and I've been doing good so far. Only a few times have I had to talk myself out of unhealthy habits. 
I've been putting off this fight because I was afraid of it. I was afraid of weight gain and I was afraid I would feel more out of control again. 
All morning, I've had visions of taking a hammer to my scale. Seriously. I haven't been brave enough to do it because I cannot fathom NOT having my scale. 
But I ate breakfast and lunch. They were very small meals but they felt ok. I wasn't afraid. I didn't panic. I wanted so badly to fight. And I did it.
And then tonight I did it. I knew it needed to be done. I grabbed a hammer and my scale and I smashed it on my back porch. I smashed it over and over with the hammer and when that didn't do the job well enough, I grabbed the shovel and annihilated it. I'm sure my neighbors think I've lost my mind. It felt so completely liberating and scary and amazing, all at the same time. Now that I'm sitting here, without a scale in my bathroom, I feel like maybe I can fight this. I feel a lot of anxiety but mixed in, there is a sense of peace."

The majority of these are from 2014, back when I was pretty engulfed in my eating disorder.

How thankful I am to NOT be in that place today---but instead to be in a place where I choose recovery every single day of my life now.


And the truth is that it is a constant effort and choice on my part. I could go back there at any time---but I don't want to.

I like where I'm at right now. 

And the fact that I have been able to eat healthier lately without restricting or eating everything in my kitchen late in the evenings is a testament to how well my brain is doing.

You guys, my brain is healing! 

I haven't felt this way in a very long time and it is worth every moment where I've fought and failed and gotten back up again.

Friends, eating disorders are real and they're not all that fun to talk about. But they're also not all that fun to live with.

Because of that, I tell my story.
Because of that, every February/March I support eating disorder awareness week.

It's time to talk about it. 

It's time to stop ignoring the signs because it feels too uncomfortable to talk about it.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of an eating disorder, please reach out for help.

Please.