Hi Everyone! Happy Wednesday. This week’s guest post is courtesy of Adrien from Confessions of a Health Nut. She opens up about her struggles in achieving the balanced, happy life that she now shares with us through her (awesome) blog. Adrien is an amazingly strong and lovely person and I'm very thankful to host her!
This story is on my blog; this story is edited down for simplicity, and for safety on my blog. But like the time I stepped out on a limb and asked for help, here I am once again stepping out and lending it the best way I know how.
“In her story lies her survival.”
It’s tattooed down my spine. It says everything and nothing all at the same time. This was the last quote of the first book I was able to read from start to finish after my spiral out of control.
I was always happy. I was always outgoing. I was never bullied and always liked. I played sports all through high school, and I succeeded. I was offered a scholarship at an NCAA school to go play field hockey, and I took it.
I was 17 when I left home, filled with dreams, and sure that I knew everything about the world and had few life lessons to learn. I thought I knew how to handle difficult situations, that I would be able to shake off whatever issue came my way. I thought I was strong, that was until I was stripped down to the point where I had no idea about who I was, with no idea of how to put myself back together again.
My story wasn’t about weight, or the media, it morphed to being about it at some point along the way, but it never started there. I never learned it was OK to have feelings. I was never encouraged to express what I was feeling, or to go deeper and look at why I was feeling that way. Often when I cried, I was told just to shake it off, or even worse, not to cry. Crying is not a bad thing, it’s how your body expresses itself, I never knew that (or believed that), and not being able to properly identify my feelings is exactly where my eating disorder stems from.
I was taken advantage of in my relationships at school. I had never had any large amount of attention from guys before, but with my cute Canadian accent and new blonde highlights, not to mention “fresh meat” stamped on my head, I was about to get some. There are several defining incidents that happened while at school- and I don’t want to get into the details, because it wasn’t the incident, it was how it was handled. I didn’t like what had happened to me, nor did I want to acknowledge it, I had no power, and no comprehension of how to deal with my feelings around it.
What I knew how to do in those moments was to run. I knew that if felt good to be in control of something. I knew that I needed to be disciplined, and I gained a wicked drive to be the best at my sport. After those events, I knew I had to be better, whatever I did was not good enough, there was always room for improvement, and before I knew it my entire focus had shifted. Practice for an hour and a half each day, training in the weight room for an hour, plus an hour long run, fed all on a bowl of green beans.
I was out of control, and unhappy. My friends all noticed a change in me, I knew the switch had been hit, but I wasn’t willing to admit it. I came home after a year and a half. I said I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and instead of wasting my time I would figure it out. Not only did I not know what I wanted to do, I’d lost site of who I was. I came home angry, so angry. Not at anyone in particular.
What I didn’t know then, that I know now is that my anger was just the tip of the iceberg. I hadn’t felt real feelings about anything, including my grandma’s death (which were transferred into shitty relationship after shitty relationship)- I had just buried them with exercise and parties, and ignored them to the point I couldn’t identify feelings other then happy or angry, I was numb.
After coming home I started living my life in fast forward. I ran a marathon, I got a boyfriend, worked a five jobs at once; it still didn’t make me happy. I got to the point where I’d rather workout at the gym than hang out with a perfectly lovely man, who genuinely cared for me.
I then found myself backpacking a week after my marathon; a booze filled trip across Australia and Fiji. When I came home, I found my 5’9 frame standing not as tall as it once had weighing only 110 pounds. I knew I was sick. I also knew that I needed help, and I also knew that I was screwed.
I was lost, so lost, but also aware that I wouldn’t be the one to get myself out of this mess. I could no longer eat apples because I thought they’d make me fat, me trying to get better was having a third of a 240 calorie protein bar. There would be days where I’d consume nothing but sugar-free jell-o and pickles, and liters upon liters of water (probably close to 8 or 9 each day).
It wasn’t the magazines that had made me this way; it was simply a fear of getting fat that took over every cell in my body. Being as active as I’d been my whole life, I had missed an important piece of information; I never learned about proper nutrition and energy needs. After I got home from Australia, I ended up losing another 16lbs and found myself hospitalized for 3months.
Gaining that first pound was agony, it took me ten full months to gain enough weight to be at a healthy BMI and another 6months in intensive therapy to be somewhat ok being at that BMI. I had a lot of learning to do, I had to learn that there were layers to my feelings, I was never allowed to say in group therapy that I was happy or angry- I learned about the depth of human feelings and how important it is to recognize them when you feel them. By burying what had happened to me and running away from it all, I never fixed anything. I only damaged myself further.
Today, I’m at a healthy weight of 135lbs, and have been for a full year. My struggle was not an easy one to overcome. It’s still not an easy one to overcome, but each day I make the same choice to be kind to myself. There are way more important things that I want in my life than to simply “not be fat”. I want children, I want my university degree, I want normal relationships not tainted by an eating disorder. I want drinks on a patio for that matter with conversations that don’t revolve around calories and workouts we did or did not do. I want to live, and I’ve made that choice; each day I make that choice. Each time I talk about my eating disorder it gets easier to deal with. For so many years, I didn’t feel, and I didn’t even know it was ok to feel human, so for me, by being able to verbalize what had happened, and how I felt was huge. In my story, lies my survival.
Reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. If you have more questions about my story or need help finding resources to help please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will do my best to answer your questions or guide you in the direction of support.