Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bite of Life (aka my story)

Hey everyone! Welcome to my blog. I am hoping this will honestly be a blog from God, not from me. One to bring hope to those suffering from or helping someone suffering from an eating disorder. To bring hope to those bound up in the shackles of the self-defeating fear it brings. Girls who are fighting, or looking for the strength to fight a disease that is so crippling.

So I don't want to bog people down in the details of my life, but I thought it would be nice to know why the heck I am even talking about this. Well....I am in the fight right now. My eating disorder, or ED as I call it, has been with me for 14 years. I am 20 now, so yes that does mean I have had it since I was 6 years old. So I am going to try and take you all from there to now in the shortest way possible. So buckle in...it's a bumpy ride.

Basically my ED started as binge eating disorder at the age of 6 due to abuse outside of my home and neglect in my home. I couldn't find comfort in healing from the abuse I endured at the hands of a family friend, and everyone thought that since the abused stop, my feelings should to. A scared 6 year old usually goes running to their parents, but my parents were dealing with illnesses of their own (alcohol dependence) that kept them from being available. So I ran to the next best thing...food. I won't go into details or anything, but it wasn't a preety time. I had so much comforting that I needed that I would eat to the point of pain or illness. It was a secretive action that would occur mostly at night and it was full of shame and guilt.

At first nobody noticed, but then I began to gain weight. Not only did my peers in school begin to notice and point it out in horrible, cruel ways but my mom began to notice too. Her whole family struggles with eating issues so her mind was skewed, and all she saw was her daughter gaining weight. She didn't see the cry for help that my secretive eating was. So she did the only thing she knew...at the age of 8 she began to put me on diets. This started a cycle of dieting and being "good" and then binging and feeling the guilt and shame that brought. My mom would celebrate when I lost weight and condemn me when she found my secret stashes or trash from one of my binges. My binge eating continued to get worse as I endured more abuse, became the parent for my mom as she coped with divorce and the loss of her twin sister, and tried to soothe myself from the bullying I endured and the feelings brought up by several cases of abuse.

All of this continued until I was 14 and obese. The bullying was at an all time high and I just wanted to escape. So I begged, pleaded, and cried to my mom to buy me a very expensive extreme diet for my birthday. She did and I committed myself to this plan. Looking back it was basically anorexia in a box, but I didn't know that then. Soon the pounds were flying off and I was being praised. I was still bullied in school, but at least when I came home I was supported for once. I felt successful, I felt accomplished, I felt loved. I still remember the look on my mom's face when I got to my goal weight, we went into American Eagle, and I was able to fit in their jeans for the first time. You would have thought I won the gold medal at the Olympics.

Sadly though, diets are short term fixes.The next year when I started high school (at a new school away from the bullying) I was determined to make a name for myself. Well, my binge eating came back and with that so did the weight. The self-hatred reached a peak and then a boy broke my heart (basically wouldn't date me because of the way I looked) and so the summer after freshmen year my plan became to lose weight and get him to like me. This all started innocently with just "eating healthier."

If only I had known then what those words meant. At first it was great, I was eating fresh fruits and veggies and only having desserts occasionally. But then that wasn't enough. Then the meals got too big so I cut out the side of pretzels or rolls and made b-fast just enough to get by. I started weighing everything and myself. These results weren't what i wanted so more had to go. First no desserts. Then no condiments or extras. Then no fats. Then certain fruits were too much. Then out went proteins. Then I exercised off anything I ate until slowly but surely I was only eating a tiny amount (no numbers because don't want to trigger). The pounds were flying off and my family was supportive until the end. When I reached an all time low at that point (actually still in healthy range) the guy decided to date me but that only lasted two weeks because we were both too busy.

Then in Decemeber my friend told the guidance counselour at school what I was doing and she told my parents and before I knew it I was in treatment. I bs-ed my way through treatment and was released two weeks later and everything started again except worse.

The guy started dating me again in January and turned out to be abusive, but I thought it was love. Inside I was tormented and hated myself which fed into my restricting. I was driven in a way I had never been before. Life was passing me by but I was blinded by the drive to be thin, to overcome the natural desire to eat. I tied the hunger in my stomach to strength. This drive didn't make me strong though and by April I was underweight and my body was shutting down so I was put inpatient and then sent to residential treatment facility which saved my life. This was the first time I was ever told to gain weight and it was a hard thing to cope with. You would think someone who was once obese would marvel at the idea of having to gain, but it only made the fear worse as the thoughts of how fat I was or was going to be swirled in my head. Still, when I returned home from Florida (where the center was) I did outpatient and did quite well. I left the abusive boyfriend and found one who really loved me.

Problem was I didn't do well because I was in recovery, I did well because I was allowed to start running track and cross country.  Cross country justified me eating whatever I wanted. This led to my love of running becoming an enslavement to running. Of course now, my lovely nutritionist has worked with me to see running as a goal and privelege and my love for it has been sparked again...it's a goal for me to gain weight.I want that freedom running down trails can bring...that peace and serenity to be on one of my runs with God. But back in that time....well...it was just enslavement.

Also I did well because my self-esteem was built on my relationship with this guy. My value became tied once again to how others viewed me. But cross country didn't last and neither did the relationship.
Come senior year I was faced with leaving home for college and clung to the fear of the Freshmen 15. So the summer before college I began to eat healthy with this thought that if I lost the Freshmen 15 before college (seeing as I was at a healthy weight this would put me underweight) then I could gain it and not fear. Seemed logical at the time, but it was just ED trying to tell me to be his form of reasonable. Before I knew it was was back in ED's arms being controlled by calories, weights, cycling, and living in utter misery. As I became thinner and thinner I broke my families hearts and they begged me to get help. That December I was back inpatient and at a new low for me weight wise. It was strange to be underweight  again and to have people tell me to gain, my mind couldn't wrap around it, but I was at least trying to recover this time. I wanted to recover, but didn't want the weight gain associated with it.

Well, by January I was discharged AMA (against medical advice) to return to school. One week into school I had to have my gallbladder removed and the surgery didn't go well due to my low weight so I was put on a low-fat diet. This was like giving crack to a crack addict and next thing I knew, I was again back in ED's clutches. As I spiraled out of control I convinced myself I was doing everything right. I altered portions in my head and twisted my meal plan to have my meager intake somehow fit into the guidelines of my team. Come April I was at an extremely low BMI and my heart was failing. I was over 18 so it was up to me to decide to go to residential again. Luckily, I made that decision.
I remember weighing in at residential and not believing how low my weight had gotten. I hadn't weighed at school (another way to convince myself I wasn't relapsing) and now this low number blinked at me. Of course a few minutes layer ED was yelling how that weight wasn't low enough and for the first two weeks (which are really a blur) or residential I kept trying to leave the center and go home so I could get "sick enough" and then return. Sick enough wasn't my heart failing or having over 200 foods I refused to eat or having dehydration so bad the docs couldn't fix it. Sick enough wasn't the racing thoughts that kept me from thinking straight in school, or having flashbacks that woke me up from sleep, or being so tired I would fall asleep sitting up. Sick enough for ED was some weight.
I was residential for 10 weeks (a long time for this facility given most people leave in 4-6 weeks) and it definitely saved my life. They wanted to keep me longer but once I reached a healthy weight insurance wouldn't let them. I came home still scared of eating fats and already thinking how I would eat so much healthier when I got home. Still, I did okay when I got back home, but then it was back to college and ED snuck back in. Not full blown but with portion distortion, obsessive weighing, and fear foods coming back, I somehow ended up where I am today. I am at my lowest weight ever and have tons of fears to overcome. I now fear sugar and sodium (newest additions to my fear list that came over the summer) and not only count fat but saturated fat as well. I recently separated from my food and person scale and it has been a rough break-up let me tell you. But I am fighting. And that's where this blog begins. That's where my future begins.

I yearn for freedom. I am scared of it but I desire it. I want to not have my life controlled by food, weight, or any other numbers. You see here I have started this blog with the chapters of my past. With the horror story it has been and luckily I have spared the details of abuse, trauma, and the true nightmare of ED details because I figured people would want to skim those chapters anyway. But you see I am starting a new chapter and each day, each moment, and each bite writes a new word in the book that is my life.It is up to me how my story will unfold and I can't wait to share it with you readers.

Send me any questions you have or topics you want to see, but other than that I will just share from my heart and I will be honest. I will let you know of possible triggers, but really for me people being open and honest has been key to my healing. People admitting this road is tough, but showing me it is possible is what pushes me on. I hope to be that light to others. So ready or not...let's go.


  1. Amazing Jess, really. A great "synopsis" of the whole damn thing. I am so proud of the progress you have made. I am so looking forward to reading more of these and you may have inspired me to keep my blog going! <3

  2. Thank you for sharing...I can relate on SO many levels to your story...you have no idea. Keep going. We're both on the same path, but I think we can get there. Hang in there. if you want to talk, etc. you can email me at elise_faust@yahoo.com

  3. Hi,
    I hope that you can find the help that you need. I would recommend not avoiding the help that you can give to yourself. We are strong, and while we cannot do "it all," we can have a positive outlook on life, which makes a world of difference.