If there’s one thing I want this blog to be, it’s open and honest. Among the posts of product reviews for items I use on a daily basis, fun adventures, recipes, there also lies my story and the incredible journey that brought me to where I am today. I’ve discussed parts of my eating disorder here and there, but I didn’t delve into the biggest part of it, and that was recovery.
The one thing I can say about recovery is it isn’t easy. It’s that simple and that complicated. It’s scary. It’s hard. And it’s literally an uphill battle the entire way. But, each day it gets a little easier. And those small positive steps that you are making start to build upon each other. You find yourself stronger with each passing day. You find yourself making progress that you never thought was possible. And in that journey, you find yourself and you see just how incredible recovery can be.
But, through the journey towards recovery you do find yourself sometimes taking two steps forward and one step back. I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me in my journey and I think that’s important to talk about. Recovery isn’t just a path forward, it’s also falling backwards into old habits, into old ways of thinking, and having to have the strength to pick yourself up and push yourself forward again. It’s having to reach out to your support system when you find yourself stumbling. But, because you know how great recovery is you keep making those small steps forward, even if it feels like you are walking through mud. At the end of the day you know recovery is worth it.
I’ve always had a control issue. I’ve always felt the need to be able to control my situations. My eating disorder was another form of control. I couldn’t control my surroundings or my home-life situation, but I could control what I put in my body. I could control how much I exercised. But you know what? All that control got me nowhere except feeling weak, dizzy, sick, and still not “good enough”. I’d exercise for hours at a time. I’d hurt myself. My entire back along my spine would be black and blue. And yet, I couldn’t admit that I had a problem. I couldn’t see what I was doing to myself.
I remember the first time I really realized that I had a problem. I had just met the man who would become my husband. I was 20 years old. By this point I had been struggling with my eating disorder for six years. He had taken me to his family’s annual July 4th BBQ. It was the first time meeting a lot of his family. And here I am at a BBQ, where I should be having fun, where there’s food everywhere, and there was not a single thing I “could” eat.
As my eating disorder had progressed over the years, I had deemed many foods “bad” and would not eat them. The list of “bad” foods was long. Chicken was my “safe” food and there was no chicken at the BBQ. The pastas, salads, steak, burgers, hot dogs… none of that I “could” touch. I needed chicken. I ended up sending my husband down the road to Wendy’s to get me a chicken sandwich. And that’s the first time I honestly realized I had a problem.
My husband started working with me, reintroducing me to foods, getting me to try different things. And slowly he started making progress. Slowly I started eating steak and burgers again and other foods that I hadn’t touched for years. But, with every step forward, I’d slide backwards. I started putting on weight which triggered me, so I’d stop eating or I’d start restricting. There were so many nights that ended in tears because I hated what I looked like. And yet, I still wasn’t ready to get help at that point and time. I was still “safe” living with my eating disorder and all the struggles that went along with it.
I was used to making myself sick because of my eating disorder. I was used to restricting so much that I’d feel weak; that I’d physically make myself sick. When I was 29 I finally made myself sick for the last time. I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to get better. I wanted to feel better. I was ready. 15 years was enough.
I started working with a family friend who was a health coach. It was scary. But, we started from square one and built upon my successes, and talked about my struggles. I remember the first time my health coach gave me a food plan. It wasn’t a strict food plan, but it was something for me to start with.
At first, my husband was making all my food to make sure I was eating. He was a HUGE support through this entire process. My husband would make me breakfast according to the food plan and I’d say it was too much food, that I couldn’t eat it, but I ultimately would because I committed to this. He’d make me lunch to take to work. At lunchtime I would find myself struggling to eat what he had prepared me, with tears running down my face, absolutely hysterical because it was “too much” food. At that point I would call my husband to help me through the internal battle I was fighting.
Through every step of the way I had my husband and my health coach and that was a HUGE part of my success. I had support. When my brain was telling me one thing, I had two other people telling me another. I wanted to get well, I was tired of fighting, so I kept listening to them. And slowly it got easier and easier.
July marks 3 years. That just dawned on me. 3 years since I started this journey. It’s been incredible! But, I do have my struggles. Sometimes I find myself starting to restrict. When I see that, or someone points it out to me, I have to recommit to get back on track and that’s when I need the most support. My body image is warped, and sometimes I find myself crying in-front of a mirror because I hate what I look like. But for every time I take a step backwards, I now know that I am strong enough to pull myself out and that recovery is worth it. And I know to reach out to my support system.
The past 3 years have been an amazing journey. I have learned so much, and it’s because of what I went through that I am where I am now. I think it’s important to look back and remember where you started, and celebrate where you ended up. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments. I know that I will always struggle. I know that I will always have to stay accountable to myself and to my commitment. Those voices will always be there. Those doubts will always be there. That need for control will always be there. But, I’m stronger than those voices. And I now know how wonderful life can be!
Recovery isn’t easy, but it’s amazing!
Struggling? Need Help? Reach Out To One Of These Resources Below. You Are Not Alone.
NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association):
The Alliance For Eating Disorders Awareness:
Lantern App (Recommended by NEDA):