Thank God we’ve had some warmer days… I know I haven’t written in a while, but of course, as predicted, I’ve been struggling- with winter. In a previous blog entry I said I was going to make this winter the best winter ever! That indeed did not happen… and unfortunately winter isn’t over-yet. So I have to try to get on with it, and still try to turn things around. Last year I made a long list of activities to do in the winter and then I divided into three categories: low energy, moderate energy and high energy. When one struggles with depression or an eating disorder, there are many days when opening a book is too taxing. I pray this list will help you find ways to get through winter. Keep your chin up, it eventually has to end!
- Workout: Bike and Read, Hot Tub, or Steam Room
- Plan Dream Vacations (Pinterest For Inspiration)
- Research New Exciting Places in the World
- Pinterest a New Craft, Recipe, or Fashion
- Read By a Fire
- Light Candles and Read
- Light Candles and Listen to Music
- Find New Music
- Window Shop Online
- Catch up With Friends Via Text/Facebook
- Make a Wish List/Shopping List
- Phone Games
- Computer Games
- Look on Twitter/Instagram
- You Tube Different Exercises (NOT Diets)
- You Tube Jenna Marbles (She’s Hilarious!)
- You Tube Motivational Clips (“The Ultimate Motivational Clip- Rise and Shine!”)
- Read Your Daily Bible Verses
- Listen to the Bible Via YouVersion
- Look Up Neat Restaurants by Reviews or Open Table App
- Check Out StumbleUpon App
- Look at Etsy
- Make Plans with Friends
- Dream Up Tattoo
- 30-50 Minutes Cardio or Weights
- Catch Up on Work/Homework
- Do Etsy or Pinterest Craft
- Shop My Closet: Put Together Cute Outfits
- Listen to a Sermon
- Build a Blog or Website
- Bake or Cook
- Pedicure/Manicure/Facial Masks
- Play With Hair and Find New Hair Dos
- Foam Roll Your Tight Muscles
- Window Shop for Dream House
- Learn New Language
- Go to a Coffee Shop
- See a Movie With a Friend
- Go to Dinner with Family or Friend
- Luxurious Bath-Bubbles, Candles, Music, Book, Drink
- Girls Night Movie In
- Listen to a TED Talk
- Workout With A Friend
- Bake for Friends/Coworkers/Family
- Organize Something
- Home Improvement
- Dance In Your Living Room/Bedroom
- Watch a Local High School Game or College Game With Company
- Go to a Professional Sports Team Game
- Read About Finances/Investing
- Rock Climbing w/ Friends
- Play Sport Indoors
- Bible Study
- Volunteer at Church
- Stretch Until You Can Do the Splits
- Get Dressed Up and Go Out to Eat or a Play
- Happy Hour With Friends
- Museums/Art Galleries
- Snow Tubing
- Cross Country Ski
- Stay In a Cabin
- Visit Family
- Put Things Online For Sale
- Host Board Game Night
- Mentor a Teenager
- Host a Dinner Party
These are just a few ideas! Print it off and hang it up on your refridgerater or the back of your bedroom door. Make it seen, because what is unseen is forgotten. Explore new areas and reignite old passions!
What helps you get through the blues?
To 2016 and keeping our New Years Resolution! Yes, I’m choosing to remain positive! I don’t care about the statistics of failure to uphold new year’s resolutions because this is about me, an individual, who is going to try to continue to better herself in 2016. To everyone who can look back from 2014 to 2015 and see a slight change for the better- you succeeded! You did not fail!
Starting fresh is an option. It is always an option. It’s biblical! It doesn’t matter how impossible others think it is (many people doubted my ability to climb all the 14ers), it doesn’t matter how old you are or how young or how inexperienced you are! You can change; and for that matter, it doesn’t have to be a new year. You can start fresh, every day of the year. But for any goal and if you want to see change, you need hope. Even if it’s small, it can blossom into a fierce flame. For me, the tiniest, most faint sense of hope got me out of the tight grasp of ED and now I have climbed mountains and have made it my mission to help others with this disease! Talk about a 180+!
I think it’s also important to look at all aspects of your life, every piece of your pie. It’s typical to think about our weight, and it’s typical to think about money, but don’t forget about improving your spiritual, leisure and fun, career, physical wellness, friendships, family relationships, character, and whatever else you find important.
It’s also important to make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. This stands for specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and timely. I used this acronym all the time with my clients when I was a personal trainer. It helped me be a better trainer, and it helped goals actualize.
- Example of being specific: I want to fit into my size 6 jeans. Not specific: I want to lose weight.
- Example of measurable: I want to run a 5k. Not measurable: I want to start running.
- Attractive: This refers to the WHY and it has to be extremely motivating.
- Realistic: Do you have the finances, support, time etc to make this happen?
- Timely: Put a time limit on it. If it’s a 2016 goal, you are already giving yourself a year, but try to be more specific then that. Example: I want to run a 5k in June.
After you’ve done this, it’s important to break your goals down into smaller steps so you have an exact plan on how you will achieve your goal. If you wanted to run a race, you would need to figure out how often you would be running during the week and how you would ensure that you had the time to do so.
With that being said, here are my “goals” for the “New Year of 2016”:
- I want to grow closer in my relationship with God because I know that when I am close with him, I have a better sense of overall well-being and can offer those around me the fruits of the spirit which is important because my sole goal on earth is to bring others to know the Love of Christ. I will do this by:
- Pray every day.
- Listen to one chapter a night of the bible before I sleep.
- Read Jesus Calling every day.
- Go to church most Sundays (2-3 times a month).
- Go to fellowship group every week (outside of school).
- Continue my efforts against my Eating Disorder (ED).
- Continue to blog at least once a month.
- Watch for red flags.
- Get help when help is needed.
- Talk openly with family and friends.
- Consider options that arise for advocacy.
- Enjoy winter so that I can make it here in Minnesota and stay close to my family and friends and avoid depression.
- Go snowshoeing at least 3 times.
- Go ice-skating at least once.
- Go cross-country skiing at least 3 times.
- Go snowboarding once this year.
- Get all A’s in school, especially this spring semester so that I can easily be accepted into nursing school.
- Prioritize school over social activities and even family activities.
- Run a half marathon at the Grandma’s event in June because it will keep me on track with getting regular exercise which ultimately helps my mood and confidence.
- Stick to the schedule I have made on the fridge.
- Run Across Colorado with Venture.org in June because I want to do something that serves a greater purpose than myself.
- Stick to the schedule I have made on the fridge.
- Run the Twin Cities Marathon in October to check off another item on my bucket list and keep me focused on regular exercise.
- Stick to the schedule I have made on the fridge.
- Get a budget so that I can get an SUV so that I can do the things that I love with this type of vehicle.
- Stick to the budget made and encourage free forms of entertainment.
- Develop a closer relationship with my niece and nephew because I want my niece and nephew to know how loved they are by me.
- Create a night/day for just Avery and I.
- Offer to babysit at least once a month outside of Avery and I’s day.
I’m sure I’ll develop more goals as I go- especially once the summer hits and then I’ll have all kinds of fun activities I’ll want to do! It’s also important to remember to strive for perfection, but not to get down on yourself when things don’t go according to plan. It’s the forward movement and the character that’s built during the process that’s far more important than the actual achievement of the goal! It’s about the journey, not the destination!
Taking my trip this summer made me realize, that much more, how important my family is to me; how much I want to be a part of their lives and it doesn’t seem possible if I move… the internal conflict to move continues…
I decided within weeks of being home that I was going to give this winter my best effort. I was going to take this next year as a test to whether or not I could thrive while living in Minnesota. I was going to make the most of Christmas time with the traditions and lights, cooking and family time. I was going to celebrate the snow and embrace it with the same warmth and wonder as a child. I was going to ensure that all aspects of what makes me happy were given attention.
Well, the holidays are over, and I find myself struggling to fight off depression. New Years Eve seems to be an annual problem and low for me and this year I was in isolation.
I had been trying to do everything right: take your meds, take vitamin D and flaxseed oil (vs. fish oil), sit in front of your mood light, and not for only 15 minutes, but for an HOUR. But I couldn’t help the feelings of hopelessness and depression settling in New Years Eve. I had a full night of plans with friends, and it all went to shit. So I went home, and caved not only to depression but ED.
ED has only had few appearances in my time since I’ve been home, but he’s still there. That plan of continuing with my outpatient care with Melrose also went out the window. It was wonderful news that all my providers only wanted to see me once a month, but for some reason in my brain even once a month was too much of an inconvenience. The distance, gas money, and time had me come to the conclusion that it would be more stressful to continue the care while I continue to live so far away.
I know what you’re thinking, and I’m aware, but I’m trying to do everything I can to stay healthy; exercising 5 days a week for only an hour, eating regular meals and not restricting myself even on Christmas treats, and voicing the times when I did feel overwhelmed.
The only other time that I caved to ED was while I was in a accelerated class at the American Red Cross to become a Certified Nurse Assistant. It was intense to say the least. Seven hours of class, six days a week, and always at least 3 to 4 hours of homework each night. Thank God I had Megan to help me get through it, but even then, one night I became overwhelmed by my emotions and found myself in the numbing arms of ED. I am fortunate that the very next day I am back on board to not giving into ED, but recently it’s been harder to do with these feelings of overwhelming depression.
I found myself in a panic last night, “How do I change this? What else can I do??” I started to assess my days and where I was lagging. For one, I realized that I needed to STOP wearing sweatpants all day. While I was wearing them out of comfort and warmth, I was constantly subconsciously thinking about how they covered my body, how that used to be the reason I wore them and the deep depression I felt during those times of my past. So on the first of 2016, I knew that I could no longer wear them all day. I also knew, that I had to put more effort into my appearance and not because that’s what women should do, but because not doing it, was always closely tied to deep depression for me. When I feel well, I want to wear makeup and do my hair and dress cute because it’s fun for me. Now if you love going natural and that’s you, I encourage you to continue to be you!
I worked with Cassie that day and this time I got dressed in jeans, did my hair and my makeup and begged Cassie to see a funny movie to lift my spirits. She agreed, and we saw Sisters. Which really did start to lift my spirits, as did the real sunshine and after the movie, we went shopping! I know it isn’t necessarily healthy, but theirs a phrase shop therapy and it exists for a reason- because it works! By the end of the day I was feeling better, a lot better. I have Cassie and my own assessments to thank for that.
What I’m saying is, know your red flags. It has taken me a couple of years to realize what all of them are, and I might find new ones, but know them, tell others what they are, and take action.
It’s now Tuesday, and the depression has somehow miraculously lifted. I know that I will be okay, and I can confirm to myself that these feelings will pass. Sometimes all on their own, but sometimes you have to take action. I know that I need to help myself in other ways too. I need to remind myself that while I may not be exactly where I’d like to be financially, I am making progress! I am taking action to seeing a change.
College, that’s right, college at Century starts next week and I couldn’t be more excited!
So proud of you Atlee! I met this incredible lady while I was in treatment at Emily Program. Atlee I am so amazed and proud of you! We will fight for ourselves, but also in means to fight for others!
After writing my list of annoyances, it only seems natural to follow up with a list of things that I am grateful for!
1) Quieting the World: It has been so amazing to shut away some of the craziness of the world. I can finally hear myself think! Although, it’s been a little hard for me to be okay with the quietness because I feel like I should be doing something productive when it comes along. But at least for a while, no one’s telling me I should be doing this, or I should be doing that. I do enough of that on my own and it’s the thief of contentment.
2) Connecting with God: Again, with all the demands of us Americans and the constant expectations and need for calculations and strategy, it’s hard to slow down and make time for God. It’s the one thing he wants from us more than anything: A relationship. But so far in life, like most, I’ve been too busy worrying and trying to survive this uptight world. When I get brief moments of connection with God, I know he’s asking me to seek him more, and to worry less. On this trip, I will make an honest effort to building a stronger foundation so I’ll have it when I go back into the real world.
3) The People I’ve Met Along the Way: I have been so blessed on this trip by wonderful strangers. Out of the goodness of their heart, they have helped me several times out of a bad situation. They’ve offered me a window into their personal space and wisdom for my own life. They have freely given encouragement and some have offered their companionship which I have been so grateful for!
4) The People in My Life: I am so grateful for my friends and my parents that have made a continuous effort to reach out to me and offer me encouragement. Not to mention all the support I receive on Facebook. People give Facebook a lot of crap, but I am so thankful for it and for the tidbits of my friends and family’s lives that I get to see from afar.
5) The Revelations: While I’m out here I have found some amazing books to help me process my past. This trip is to also allow myself space for self-forgiveness and to find self-love and I only pray that my insights I gain can help someone else.
6) Strength Against ED: My friends, my family, and my treatment team weren’t so sure that this trip would offer me good help against my eating disorder. While I haven’t been perfect, I know that my symptom use is down considerably, as well as my body checking. Food has once again become fuel vs. an enemy. The thoughts are still there, but they aren’t as strong. Having a strong, able body is of so much more importance.
7) Strength in Coping: I have had a lot of things go wrong along this trip, but I am coping with them better than I would have in the past. Being out in the country doesn’t afford me the opportunity to rush to a grocery store to numb bad feelings. I have to work through them, and I have to deal with them in a different way. I cry, I pray, I process, I blog, I accept and when needed, I figure it out. If I had better phone service, I’d probably reach out more too.
8) My Blog: I am so grateful for this blog. Sometimes it can cause me stress because I get behind, but what it really allows me to do is slow down, and process things. I get to enjoy my accomplishments of the mountains I have climbed and reflect back on all my blessings and the obstacles I have overcome. What I’m most thankful for, is that it’s offered some people hope and inspiration; which was my main purpose of doing this! May it be all for your Glory, Abba!
Already after writing this, I’m in a better mood. I’ve been told many times by therapists to write down lists of gratitude at the end of each day. It really takes commitment, but I think it would be well worth it. First things first though. First, I will work on praying every night, then I’ll take on something new.
P.S. and #9) I’m really happy that my tent has remained waterproof and has kept me dry from this weather this week!
I wouldn’t be real and authentic if I didn’t confess that I was having some major frustrations on the trip so far. They are getting in the way of my full enlightenment process (sarcasm, kind of). This is more for me being able to vent, honestly. Plus, if you ever get the crazy idea of doing something like this, here are some insights.
1) The cold and rainy weather: This has been the biggy. The huge biggy. Arrrrrgggg! This entire week has been highs of 60 degrees and lows of mid 30’s and rainy. Lots and lots of rain and storms and little windows for hiking. Thus sleeping in my tent has not been enjoyable. It’s been really hard to stay motivated to climb when I wake up because I know the summit will be wintery, freezing conditions. Have I mentioned I hate snow and the cold??? Not to mention my climbs got delayed by three weeks upon arrival because of all the snow on the mountains. It’ll be a miracle if I can get them all done by the end of summer.
2) Pessimistic People: I can’t tell you how many people look at me like I’m crazy and feel the need to list off every danger they can think of as if I haven’t thought of it before. I can’t help but wonder if they’d be less concerned, and more “That-a-boy” if I were a man. Seriously. So annoying. As if after they list everything off, I’m going to be like, “Wow, you’re right George. I guess I’ll just go back home now.”
3) Hiking by myself: It gets lonely! Thank God I have Spotify to keep me company and that I’ve met others to hike with me along the way. Not to mention, hiking by myself means I have no one to confirm or deny that I’m taking the correct trail or making good decisions. As you all know, there have been quite a few trial and errors thus far.
4) Having T-Mobile: I rarely ever have service or 4G which means I’m always having to dish out a pretty penny for lattes so I can use their “free” Wi-Fi. I also can’t get directions to anywhere unless I have 4G. So I’m often trying to read maps and figure it out myself- a good skill to have, but again, annoying.
5) My GPS Dying: Had to turn back once already because I couldn’t figure out the trail without it. That was a very frustrating day.
6) Not Having an SUV: My car has done okay, but so far I’ve broke a serpentine belt, nearly got stuck in a pot hole that ruined my front bike tire, and I’ve popped my front car tire because of the rough terrain to get to the trailhead.
7) Not Being Able to Shower: It’s been quite the adventure to get in a shower while on the road. I’d be fine with streams, lakes and my portable shower (dripping on me at best), but the weather has been too cold!
That’s all I can think of right now… and I don’t want to dwell on them. I suppose that’s the beauty of blogging. I can let it out and then move on! I know I also have a lot to be grateful for!
Yesterday I climbed Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross tallying my total to 9, and 7 of those 9, in 4 days. At first glance, it would seem like I’m kicking some serious butt! I was relaxing in my tent near the Quandary Peak Trailhead and almost falling asleep at 7:30pm. But my thoughts about wanting to plan my next week before I would leave for my bi-annual Bushman family Montana trip wouldn’t let me drift off to dream world. Tomorrow, I decided, would be a rest day. “Maybe I could knock off three more mountains before I leave this Saturday,” I thought.
I had no idea what the weather was going to be like this week, so out of bed I grudgingly arose and luckily only had to drive 5 miles down the winding road until I had 4G (have I mentioned how aweful T-Mobile’s service has been?). Rain, rain and more rain. A little dramatic, but I thought angerly, “No climbing at all this week for me. F*$#, how am I going to get them all done this summer with having to go to Montana for two weeks during prime time climbing?” I started doing the math and I have a total of 47 hiking days in order to climb 55 mountains. I’ve only climbed 5 days! That’s it! I counted them out on the calendar and I would have to do one hike every single day to be done by the beginning of September. The original time frame I would have liked to be done.
I was devastated… “I’ve been telling everyone in one summer”. I was completely deflated, thinking of what everyone had already assumed, “There’s no way she can do that”. “They’re right… another expectation I’m setting for myself that I can’t keep.” The failures just won’t stop coming…
I crawled back into my tent with a sense of defeat. “This can’t be the final outcome. Not yet. It’s too early to say anything. I have to at least try”. I rethought my week and said with determination to myself, “I’ll do five this week. I’ll work around the weather the best I can.” I set my alarm for 2am in the morning. It said there would only be 20% chance rain from 2am until 8am. My new routine will have to be to wake up at 4am and hike, go into town to blog, then move to the next peak that same night and repeat the process until the end of August.
Earlier that day I ran into a lady and her mother at a local coffee shop in Alma. I was telling them about my journey. Somehow whenever I stop and start typing, a conversation arises. I was telling them what I was doing this summer and as our conversation continued, I shared my faith and how I wanted to spend time with God.
Where was my time with God going to fit in with this new routine? I prayed to God to help me not to get caught up in meeting expectations. I begged him, “Please Abba, I want to put you first. Help me stay focused on you. You are my prize. You are greater and more precious than any accomplishment, and I might not get the time like I do now, again. Help me spend time with you”.
2am came and my alarms started going off. Snooze-snooze-snooze- shut off! I decided only half awake, I’m not going to rush this process. When I get done, I get done. I wouldn’t even enjoy this hike. I’d be too afraid of mountain lions and I’d be frozen and possibly stuck in the rain. I will keep my original plan and this will be an off day.
I ended up waking up at 10am! Of course I thought, “Wow, lazy bum”, but immediately gave myself grace. Well you climbed 7 mountains in 4 days! Maybe you needed it! After all, I said I was going to work on being kinder to myself. I reached to my “bedside” and grabbed my “Jesus Calling” book. It shocked and awed me. This is what it said:
“I AM YOUR FATHER-GOD. Listen to Me! Learn what it means to be a child of the everlasting King. Your richest duty is devotion to Me. This duty is such a joyous privilege that it feels like a luxury. You tend to feel guilty about pushing back the boundaries of your life to make space for time alone with Me. The world is waiting to squeeze you into its mold and to crowd out time devoted to Me. The ways of the world have also warped your conscience, which punishes you for doing the very thing that pleases Me most: seeking My Face. Listen to Me above the clamor of voices trying to distract you. Ask for My Spirit to calm your mind, for He and I work in perfect harmony. Be still and attentive in My Presence. You are on holy ground.”
Romans 8:15-16; Exodus 3:5
I knew I had come to the right decision today to slow down. I have faith that one way or another, it will happen, but when it does, it will be for the glory of God in His perfect timing. Today, was a beautiful day of letting go and of surrender, and it felt so good to do so!!
On this occasion, I think it’s important to stop and give praise and gratitude for the freedoms we have in this country. But I can’t help but think about the very freedom I’m fighting for in my own life. Freedom from my eating disorder.
Climbing the 14ers is a bucket list item, a way for me to add adventure into my life. But it also forces me to look at food from a different perspective; as fuel. It pushes me to do something extraordinary that not many people can do, it declares to the devil that he will not take my life, and that I have the strength and the will to fight.
I know thus far, I haven’t really explained how my eating disorder came to be. I think it’s time to share that story. Maybe it’ll help give others who are headed down my path a reason to change directions. Maybe it’ll help other people understand eating disorders a little more.
It wasn’t until 6th grade that I struggled with my weight. Even before then, around 4th grade I can remember seeing my reflection in my elementary school windows and being embarrassed by my figure.
My unhealthy relationship with food started with a bad habit of coming home from school and eating too large of snacks before dinner, and indulging in front of the television at night. In 6th grade, I remember crying in the living room to my mother because none of my clothes fit. I already felt uncomfortable in my own skin being that I was always so much larger than the other kids. I was 5’6 in 6th grade, and stuck out like a sore thumb. My mom had done Weight Watchers in the past and it worked for her and so she invited me to start going to the groups and following the program in hopes that I would learn portion control.
I know now that this was her intention, but starting a dieting program also fed me the believable, twisted lies that I was unacceptable. The program worked for me and I lost weight. At family gatherings I can remember getting compliments. Compliments are supposed to be a good thing, but for me it meant affirmation that I wasn’t acceptable, affirmation that I was prettier and would get more attention and praise when I was thinner.
Unfortunately, on my dad’s side of the family, looks were of too much importance. I had always felt inferior to my beautiful cousins. I was always striving to fit in and keep up with them. Before every family gathering, I always went on a diet. It wasn’t so much that my cousins, or aunts fed me the thought that I wasn’t attractive; it was actually my grandpa. He was and is for the most part, a grumpy old man. But when he would see my other female cousins, his face would absolutely light-up and I couldn’t get his face to do the same with me. He was always snapping photographs, but mostly of my beautiful cousins and aunts. On one occasion, he actually told me not to smile in order to hide my braces.
All through junior high and high school it was a battle with my weight. Always fluctuating, and always using food to soothe, and exercise to undo the damage. Foods had categories of either “good” or “bad”, and heavy feelings of either success or failure. Every attempt of restricting was soon followed by times of overeating. The only thing that saved me from these patterns turning into a full blown eating disorder was my success and hard work in school and volleyball.
I had never felt attractive anywhere. I was the girl that was never asked out in junior high or high school and I was afraid of boys and their rejection. Sadly, feelings of rejection have been around as long as I can remember, even as a little girl with pigtails and ribbons in her hair. I never made eye contact with boys; too afraid that I would see the look of disgust on their faces, or laughter for me even thinking that I could gaze upon their handsome faces.
It didn’t help that I got picked on. This proves my stubbornness and need to rebel against the norm, but I remember when I was in early elementary school, I noticed that all the big, cool kids sat in the back of the bus. So I tried to sit in the back. The whole ride home I was picked on by the big kids. Leaving the bus, one of the boys pushed me down into the ground and laughed at me.
My brother, like all brothers, beat on me and called me names like “Pig Nose” and other impressionable names. His friends were typical boys and I always felt like they were laughing at me behind my back. “What a dork. I can’t believe she’s your sister”. My brother was actually popular. I wasn’t. I was friends with everyone, but was never invited, nor did I want to be invited to the drinking and hook up parties. I was far more interested in achieving good grades and making my way to the top of the volleyball team and everyone knew it. I was a “goody-two-shoes” who wasn’t even capable of swearing in their eyes. Being my true self wasn’t even an option. Every time I’d let a little bit of my silliness show, people would write me off as a dumb blonde- even my mother for heaven sakes. I only had two friends in high school who saw the real me and I’m grateful for them.
Once in college I was determined to leave that slate behind me. I made the college volleyball team at UW-Stout as a walk on. A huge boost to my self-esteem. While my teammates got drunk together, I was more concerned with getting good grades and staying in good graces with my coach. I was pretty much disregarded by most of my teammates after that. Looking back, I realize I missed the opportunity to bond with them, but in the same breath, I wasn’t willing to bend my integrity.
College was also the first time I had felt attractive in my life. Between volleyball and getting my wisdom teeth pulled, I had lost a lot of weight my freshman year contrary to the popular belief that students would gain the freshman fifteen. Every time I lost weight, I was afforded the attention from men. Every time I gained it back, it was painful.
My sophomore year of college the most devastating blow happened. I was cut from the volleyball team. I had completely lost my identity and at the same time was coming to the realization that studio art wasn’t going to take me anywhere in life. I was so lost, not to mention isolated from all my friends, who I also strived to fit in with. That year, right before Thanksgiving break, I had my first breakdown and came home early before the end of the semester. Luckily, my professors allowed me to finish the semester from home. Ever since, I have struggled with my identity, feeling accepted, and the darkness of depression.
Once I had lost purpose for working out, I began using it only as a means to control my weight. I would eat emotionally, and workout for 3 hours the next day, sometimes in the middle of the night. My body was falling apart. I had so many injuries and my body just hurt everywhere.
Between 2006 and 2008, I dropped out and re-entered UW-Stout. I was now 24 and already feeling behind in life. Most of my friends had graduated and moved on. My roommates at the time were anti-social and I felt utterly alone. One of these roommates was anorexic and bulimic. She was thin, pretty, had a boyfriend, and from what I could see from the pantry, ate whatever she wanted. It was like I had finally found the answer to all my struggles with dieting, my weight and finally being attractive to men. Occasionally vomiting up my food felt like a big middle finger to dieting. “F*%& you! Now I can eat whatever I want!”
I’ll never forget the first time I vomited my food. I was terrified and at the same time on a high. I told myself I would only use it occasionally to counteract the times I overate. At the time I was dating Dan and I confessed to him what I had done. He didn’t make a big deal about it at all. With annoyance he said his ex had done the same, rolled over and went to bed.
It was as if my mom knew right away. She noticed that I would go to the bathroom soon after meals and one day on the way into a grocery store, I asked her if I looked like I had lost weight. She said in shock, “Are you getting rid of your food?” I couldn’t help but answer back in nervous laughter. I said it wasn’t a big deal.
Not even a year into using these symptoms, it became more of a problem. I was still in denial. I didn’t “look” anorexic, therefore it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t need to be hospitalized, therefore I was in control. What first started as a way to control my consumption soon turned into a way to escape and numb any kind of stress in my life. Food had become my drug.
While living in Denver, I had the thirst to do more with my life than just drink and party. I wanted to help people and personal training felt like the natural fit. I loved fitness, I had coached 5 years, I loved the science of the human body and nutrition, and I could relate to people because of my own struggles.
I had some success with training. I was rookie of the year at 24 Hour Fitness, and when I moved back from Colorado and started training with LifeTime Fitness I reached 10k and became a level 4 trainer within a year. But it was hard, and extremely stressful. The pay was 100% commission and people came and went whenever they wanted. There was zero stability but I stuck with it for 5 years because I knew there were trainers who had made it out of poverty and into earning close to 70k.
When I tasted it, I was working 70 hours a week, and didn’t have a life. A lot of people make that sacrifice, but the free spirit in me couldn’t handle it. I was so sick during that time while I trained. I could barely make it through a shift without needing to sleep. My body was so completely messed up from all the bingeing and purging. I actually reached out to get help, but my insurance would only cover treatment if I was under 18 years old. I knew the eating disorder was going to cost me my job, and eventually it did.
I started my own personal training business called “Ideal” and it was great! I was earning the same amount of income with only 11 client hours a week. That left a lot of free time for me, and the only way I knew how to spend it was by bingeing and purging, working or hanging out with friends, which I didn’t have time to do. I was constantly plagued with the worry of clients leaving, and how I needed to find more, but too trapped by the familiar fear of rejection to even try.
That winter, I was suicidal. I finally couldn’t live with myself anymore. I felt like such a hypocrite. I was dishing out advice to clients all the time about their health and fitness and I couldn’t follow it myself. I couldn’t stop bingeing and purging, and I was finally at a place where I wanted to. I hated myself.
No one knew except my parents, and three of my best friends. I couldn’t let anyone else know. My identity was a trainer. The picture of health. I didn’t want people to look at me differently. Without my permission, my mom started telling her close friends about my current condition. I was pissed. I felt so betrayed and couldn’t see that my mom was hurting and felt so alone and helpless and needed someone to talk to. I started missing holidays because I was so sick and depressed. Finally she ended up telling all my relatives about my struggle. I was so angry. I couldn’t believe her level of betrayal. I wanted to tell them on my own watch, which would have probably been never. I couldn’t see at the time that telling people would eventually be the most liberating action of my life.
I started to look at places to I could go to for help, but first I needed insurance. Having my own personal training business meant I didn’t have any. The hoops that I had to jump through need to be saved for an entirely different blog entry. I had never pushed myself so hard, and wouldn’t accept any help. In the meantime, my binges got worse and there were even times where I was terrified my stomach would burst.
Finally, I received insurance and because I was so secretive, they couldn’t nail me as having a preexisting condition. I had tried both the Emily Program and Melrose Institute but they were full, and would be full for months. But at the rate I was going, I only had enough hope for days.
April 29th, 2013, a day before my mom’s birthday, I flew out to Belleview, Washington for residential treatment. It was actually a gift to her that I was going to be under 24 hour watch and care. She could finally sleep at night. The next 60 days were amazing. For the first time was dealing with my eating disorder and all the hurts that came with it and before it. It was a time of constant revelation. I had found people who understood me for the first time and formed friendships that would last for a life time.
The average time for a person to become “free” of an eating disorder is five years. But this also depends on how long a person has been dealing with this devastating disease. I’ve been in and out of treatment since my time in Washington. It’s quite normal to have slip ups and to even need to go back into short term treatment to interrupt symptom use. But every time I’ve had to, it’s definitely another round of self-loathing and questioning if I’ll ever get anywhere in life.
I’m at a point where I want to be done with this so badly. I’ve cried out to God to bind me while my head was hanging over the edge of the toilet. I’ve kicked, I’ve screamed. So many tears have been shed begging God to free me from this disease. Why can’t I be one of those people that just wake up changed? Why does this have to be so hard?
It very well may be the cross I carry for the rest of my life. It may be God’s will that I fight with this because it makes me fight that much harder for others’ freedom and the dream of there being a support system available that is as strong as AA and NA.
As contrary as it is, I thank God for my eating disorder. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, but I’m not quite sure I would know who God truly is without this struggle. I might still be searching for my identity. The truth is, I know who I am in Christ now, and it is stronger than any achievement life can offer. He is my Rock and Strength, and my constant source of Love and Security and that knowing that, has afforded me the freedom I possess.
This brought me to tears. What an inspiring woman. I also hope to be the change I want to see in this world.