As I sit here and type out this post I am in awe of what I have been through, both physically and mentally. Literally, I am thinking to myself, “Eating Disorder? Well that was out of the blue.” The last week in February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. For the past 5 years I have created an Instagram post to talk about my eating disorder and recovery. And for the past 5 years I have erased that content before publishing.
Although I felt compelled to share my story, I always had a voice in the back of my head that was telling me; “People are going to think you are looking for attention”, “Close friends and family are going to judge”, or “I am going to trigger someone else’s eating disorder”.
The past few months I have been doing a lot of research on finding my passion and what good I can offer the world. So this February I am saying “Screw it”. I am not looking for attention, my close friends and family love me no matter what, and I will be empowering others and showing they are not alone with their struggles. Quite honestly I am proud of my mind & body and I want to help others by sharing my story.
Even though I have been recovered for years, I feel highly vulnerable as I type this out. To be completely honest, the disease never truly goes away. I will never go back to how I was. But it manifests in other ways. It is like a cat scratching a chalk board when other people prepare my plate. My heart races as anxiety tries to wash over me. I recognize this feeling and I have developed the strength to tell it to leave. And I will continue to work on opening up this part of me.
My plan is to tell my story within a few blog posts. Then I want to provide more education on the disease and recovery in the posts following the conclusion of my story. I hope to spread light to others who are suffering, recovering, and/or to those who know someone experiencing this.
If you are here reading this, I am hugging you right now.
In the beginning of 2010 I was a lot like the person I still am today. However, a little switch flipped in my head and an insignificant diet of avoiding too many tater tots and pizza enveloped my life. Obsession of counting and studying numbers took over my mind and my gut. Each day was a new game of numbers and waiting. Breaking each meal into less than 300 calories and then waiting to see how long I could go before I took my first bite of food. Low calorie, fake peanut butter, popcorn, rice cakes, and chocolate flavored tea became my staples.
During this time I was an average runner. Half marathons and 10k races were my jam but at the end of 2010 I decided to sign up for my first marathon. Training for this race came easy for me. But I did it completely wrong. My long runs were 20-22 miles. However, I would do these long runs twice a week for several consistent weeks! I was insane! The other days of the week I would cross train and lift weights. Throughout those few months of training, some of my professors expressed concerned. But I would always tell them that I just could not figure out why I couldn’t keep weight on and that I ate like a horse! Those simple, little lies kept people from digging any further. To be quite honest I have no memory of my close friends or family ever questioning me.
I ended up qualifying for Boston at my first marathon. Can you believe that? I put my body through such restrictions and it still awarded me with a marathoner’s dream. With no marathon planned for a few months I went on running for fun without a training plan. And with the decrease in total weekly miles in between training blocks, I was scared that the number on the scale would climb. My obsession with numbers, more than my body image, could not let that happen. So I started to fidget. A lot. I constantly tapped my foot in class. As a passenger in the car I would dance non-stop in my seat. I would park as far away as I could from any entrance or bike to any place that I could. Any movement I could squeeze in I would. All because those movements equaled a higher number of calories used for the day.
The 2012 Boston Marathon saved my life. I was 82 pounds the day I ran that marathon. The temperature rose to 89 degrees and I still ran fast enough to qualify for the next Boston Marathon. Tears flooded my eyes and I began to hyperventilate as the finish line was in sight. “Did I really just accomplish this?” I asked myself. How could my mind and body be so good to me even though I was so horrible to it? My mind let me continue to have the mentality to train, to have fun with friends and family, and to excel in school even when I didn’t give it the nutrients to thrive. My body let me physically push it to the limits, literally running on empty. And what did I do? I starved it and when I ate, I ate absolute crap.