At 18 years old, I was a freshman at college. I can remember coming home for a long weekend after being at school for six months or so. My campus was really hilly and big, so I walked a lot to get to classes. I also didn’t like most of the food that was served and had been eating a lot of salads for lunch and dinner. When I walked in the door, my mom exclaimed at how thin I was. I remember that moment because it was like something clicked in my head. I’d never been thin. I’d never been fat either–I was always your average girl. I had thicker thighs and a booty though, so I never felt skinny. Hearing those words sparked something in me. Something I wanted to maintain, maybe even challenge, to see if I could get thinner. It was the beginning of my battle with food, an eating disorder, and body image issues (to be insanely clear, in absolutely no way am I even insinuating that my mom had something to do with my eating disorder. College had been tough for me in the beginning, and I didn’t know how important control was to me, yet. That comment was just the catalyst I needed for something that was already brewing. I alone am the root of my eating disorder.).
I started this blog with the intent to write about my battle through anorexia, and where I am now. I had the initial thought because I always wondered what happened to others like me, who battled the same beast, once they came through the thick of it all. I’ve seen the success stories, the stories where anorexia doesn’t hover around the edges of the girls who have successfully rehabilitated. Who’ve beat anorexia. I’ve beat it in that I no longer restrict (in the ‘no more than 500 calories per day’ way), and haven’t for many, many years. I’ve beat it in that I’m a healthy weight, and I’m strong, and I workout to grow stronger. But I haven’t beat it in that I still am very conscious of what I eat. That I still monitor a scale if there is one around. I am insanely critical of my body and any weight that I deem to be too much. I still have foods that never came off the restricted list. I wondered if there were others out there like me, fully functioning, mostly healthy adults in a world that often makes them feel misunderstood, trying to find a place to be, and who to be. For so long, anorexia and eating disordered thinking ruled my life. I didn’t know how to be me without it. It’s my fall back when life gets out of control, like a security blanket (just not as cuddly). I’ve changed some things in my life and handle it much better, and have grown a lot, just even in the past couple years. But I still wondered if what it was like for others. I don’t know many people that have been through anorexia. I don’t know many people that know how to respond to it. Many people in my life don’t even know I went through it, as it isn’t exactly ‘meeting new people’ conversation. To anyone who met me, they’d never know about those years. I don’t often offer it up. But it lingers inside of me. Every time someone asks me why I don’t eat red meat, I always want to say, ‘Well because I battled anorexia for some time, and it was on the ‘to not eat’ list even before that started, and I’ve never let myself eat it since.’ Instead I say, ‘Oh, I gave it up 15 years ago, and just haven’t felt a need to return to it!’ Surely there were others out there who by all purposes were ‘fine’, but who still felt the effects years later of having an eating disorder. Do you feel as lost as I sometimes felt? I want to know.
When I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), I wanted to write about that, because it sucks. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have a higher risk for eating disorders and depression. Well, well. Additionally, a number of foods have been shown to have a negative impact on PCOS. Things like sugar, dairy, gluten, and soy. This means having a somewhat restricted diet, which at times proves to be difficult for someone who has spent many, many years being restrictive in diet. To be required to follow one (if you don’t want to gain a shit ton of weight, which, no) can be tricky at times. It’s a bit of a tightrope I walk between being healthy and restrictive and being restrictive because of the eating disordered thinking in my brain.
Then my husband and I started trying for a baby. Guess what? That’s hard as well. PCOS can make women anovulatory, among so many other fun things, and that’s true for me. I also have what my doctor lovingly calls ‘lazy ovaries’. I take fertility medicine now to help us with this journey, which has it’s own barrage of side effects. So, that led to me then wanting to write about it all. My eating disorder, my diagnosis of PCOS, a syndrome that causes weight gain and how that’s affected my eating disordered brain, and then trying to have a baby, something I can’t control, that is affected by my PCOS, and if I’m not at a healthy weight, affected by that too. What a tangled little web!
These are my stories (dun dun).