Yesterday was a pretty big deal for me. I didn’t make it known on Facebook (surprised, right? Ha) because I wanted to write a length blog about what happened twelve long years ago (yesterday – 11/11/04) – I was admitted into my final residential eating disorder treatment center for anorexia nervosa with purging tendencies – Avalon Hills Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Facility.
The first time I can remember engaging in my eating disorder, I was five years old. My best friend and I had just come back from gymnastics. I kept looking at her body, and then I’d look at mine. Why was mine different? Why was mine fluffier and bigger than hers? Why couldn’t I be small like her, too? Why was I so different? Those thoughts lingered (and still do, but obviously not in a five-year old’s mindset) for a very long time before I actually “did” something about it. I can remember being very young and my parents saying, “if you don’t eat your vegetables, no ice cream for you”. Typical parents, right? What my parents didn’t know, is that even as a very young child, my brain was wired completely different from any other kid my age. Things happened (that don’t need to be discussed – maybe that’s for a different blog post at a different time) that they had no idea about, and my brain, my thought process and my ability to handle stress, anxiety and pain became vastly different. So, when my parents told me that if I didn’t eat my veggies and I got no ice cream as a result, I was okay with that. I was perfectly fine, because guess what? I was winning. I was in control and I didn’t have to do anything they told me, if I didn’t want.
Eating disorders are so different for everyone. It’s especially different for those that are younger. For an extremely long while, I’ve always had it in the back of my head that I wanted to help children and young people with eating disorders and mental illness, especially. I personally feel that if you get to those that are young, and help shape their behaviors and their ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, they’re less apt to choosing drugs, self-harm or eating disordered ways to deal with things that others have an easier time dealing with. I feel like those that are young are so easily influenced and if you influence them in a positive way, if you let them know that you’re there for them and they’re not alone and especially, the way they FEEL and interpret life isn’t WRONG, they’re more willing to deal with everyday stressors in a more positive way.
Eating disorders, contrary to popular belief, aren’t based solely on looking like a supermodel or being extremely skinny – they are a way of dealing with life. They are a way of dealing with stress and they are a way of making things that are too hard to deal with, easy. They’re manipulative and safe and strong when the voices are the only ones you want to listen to. Especially when that’s all you’ve known for so many years. Having to essentially change your entire way of thinking is hard, and dealing with things as you’ve always dealt with them is so much easier.
I look back and think of how disappointing I must have been to my parents growing up. Putting them through the things I did, no child should put their parents through. Those are the things I think about when I go back down the terrible rabbit hole that is ED. Looking back, and feeling the same way I did then, now, helps reel me back in and helps me deal with issues in a more healthy manner. I am able to realize when I need help. I am able to figure out what I need to do, to not go any further than I had been going.
It’s taken me a few days to write this and be okay with what I was writing because I’m not extremely public about my struggle with my eating disorder. Those that are close to me know that I’ve struggled for year with one, but, those that weren’t around when I was younger really don’t know the lengths I went to, and how badly I was deep into my eating disorder. Leading up to this ‘anniversary’, I noticed an extremely large change with my eating habits. I kept questioning myself, was I eating too much? Could I eat a little less with no one noticing? Could I eat a little less and make my mind and body feel better? The answer to both of those questions, was no. The other day, I mentioned to my husband that I hadn’t been doing a great job keeping up with my containers, and eating what I should be eating to maintain the calories I needed for my work outs I was doing daily for the 21 Day Fix. He asked if he should have mentioned something, and I said no. I KNEW I was doing the wrong thing, but, because my personality is the way it is, I needed to change for myself. I needed to hold myself accountable and figure it out. I love that my husband is aware and is there if and when I need him (because, I do, often – everyone needs their spouse’s loyalty and support), but I also love that my husband lets me do my own thing and lets me come to him. I also noticed, that when I’d do my work outs and I hadn’t eaten properly the day before, I was dragging. I wasn’t able to have the stamina I needed to sustain the 60 second intervals for the exercises. I knew I needed to change if I wanted to continue to do what I was putting out, so-to-speak.
Again, this is a big thing for me – putting out there that I am struggling and this is helping keep me accountable. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s Monday – a new week – when people are waking up complaining it’s another day, another work week – I’m going to go in without that mentality. I will go in with a mentality that I need to change my habits. I was doing SO WELL for a VERY long time. The important thing to realize is, everyone has a lazy day – everyone has a screw up – the difference is how you deal with that screw up – how you deal with that set-back.
If you, or anyone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, whether that be EDNOS (eating disorders not other wise specified), anorexia, bulimia, over-eating, BDD . . . know that you ARE NOT alone, and that you ARE safe, if you need someone to talk to. I am here. Eating disorders make you feel so lonely – but know, you are NOT alone. With all the hate in this world, there are those that have been there, and are willing to be there for you when you need help. ((HUGS))