I once heard on a podcast a woman describing her life with an eating disorder as like being a passenger on the Titanic. She described the helplessness and frustration of her relentless effort to find out why the ship was sinking.
It was only in her recovery that she found out it didn’t matter. She just needed to get off the ship. I couldn’t describe my recovery efforts better.
I had no history of trauma. I was smart, funny, charismatic, and beautiful. But even at the early age of two, my mother described me as incredibly sensitive and spiritual.
Throughout my entire life, I can’t think of a time I couldn’t sense what people were feeling, even in their best efforts to hide it. I was incredibly in tune with emotions, both mine and others. Because of this, I experienced them in extremities.
I also can’t remember when I wasn’t obsessed with food. Every memory, occasion, even person in my young life was linked to food. For a reason, I will never know for certain, but for what I believe to be a perfect storm of genetics, personality, and destiny, I used food in a way that was different from normal eaters.
I have early memories of hiding food in my room, eating until I made myself sick, and starving myself because I didn’t like the way I looked or felt. I remember thinking I was fat and being terrified to be weighed in school in second grade.
When September 11th happened, only months after the untimely and tragic death of my uncle, I found myself experiencing my first of many anxiety attacks. Anxiety for me was the absence of God. “God”-not referring to any specific religion- was just my sense of what I held on to; where I was from, “the layout” if you will. The reason things made sense and the belief that Love and Good are the powers that drive.
Controlling food became my existence from that time onward. Dieting led to severe restriction. When the hunger overcame me, I began bingeing, and my weight fluctuated noticeably. I learned how to make myself purge to try and regulate my now out of control bingeing. From the time I woke up until the time I went to bed and sometimes in my dreams, I was tortured by thoughts of food and my body.
At 18, I sought help. Therapists tried different techniques to try and decrease the damaging thoughts and behaviors with no avail. I entered an eating disorder treatment center for the first time at 23 and finally found some relief. Within those walls, I was safe. I could talk openly with other patients who “got it.”
I couldn’t engage in the disorder eating behaviors because I was watched. Sadly, I relapsed every time within days after being released. This cycle tore at my heart and spirit and damaged my family and interpersonal relationships. So I did the only thing I could at the time; I learned how to shut my feelings off.
I’m not even sure if it was a conscious choice. But I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop. And no one else could understand either. To them, I was selfish. I wasn’t trying hard enough. To me, I wanted more than anything to stop and couldn’t. It was hell.
In 2013, I left Boston with a one-way plane ticket to Florida which is where my spiritual journey began. On my own, I learned about addiction. The 12-steps were introduced to me there. Although, I was not ready to accept they were my solution. My obsessed mind still thought food was the problem, so food was where I needed to focus.
I fell in love with someone who understood me there, and together we tried so hard to fix ourselves. We moved to San Diego to start a life together, and fortunately, it didn’t work out between us.
However, things did work out for me because in San Diego I found magic. I learned about time and the mind and love. I learned about fear and truth and self-will and energy. I learned about being able to bring yourself to different frequencies by focusing on different things and changing your perspective.
Still, I was in over my head in the binging and purging and was very sick. At the advice of the treatment center that had pulled me from my full-time job, I moved home for more treatment and to be near family.
In November of 2016, I met Patrick, and for the first time in my life, I was ready to take an honest look at myself. For almost two decades, I had allowed myself to be a victim of this illness, to fall prey to my own mind that I had to do what it told me to do.
Meeting Patrick changed things for me. I became open-minded. I was ready to do ANYTHING to get better because I knew if I didn’t, I would be running- ALONE- for the rest of my life. Searching for something that had been inside of me all along.
When I found Overeaters Anonymous, I began hearing the messages I know in my heart to be true. I found a sponsor named Denise who shared her experience with me and gave me hope. If she was once in my place once and recovered, then I could too.
She loved me from the beginning and taught me through the 12-step method. She re-connected me to the God of my understanding and gave me back my grip to hold on to so I could let go of the food.
Do I considered myself “recovered”? Hell no. I never will be. But today, I know how to MANAGE my disease, one day at a time.
I live in the moment, at least I try to. I focus on positive energy and serving others. Self-love is key, and I know I can’t do this alone.
This is why I wrote this. We need each other.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on October 30, 2018.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 30, 2018.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com