Full Disclosure: Thoughts on my eating disorder

It’s 1am and that’s the only reason why I’m even posting this. Tomorrow I’m going to regret it. I don’t like talking about my eating disorder. I would love to ignore the fact this is happening to me. But I really can’t ignore it because it’s staring me in the face and I feel like it’s winning and I’m terrified.

A lot of people believe that eating disorders are a cry for attention. That might be true for some people, but there comes a point when everyone suffering from an eating disorder hides it. I hide it. I have hidden it. When I started at 10 I hid it. Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment or maybe this is the next step in my self-constructed recovery plan, but either way I feel like I need to put my story out there. Like in its entirety, not just the parts I’m more comfortable with sharing. This is on my blog because nobody reads my blog anyway. It can still be a secret, right? I’m not so sure that’s what I really want….

At a girls conference in 2006 when Natalie Grant put a name to the thing I’d been doing I cried. I knew that I wasn’t glorifying God with my choices and at the age of 12 I was already in so deep I had no idea how to get out. I talked to my mom after puking my guts out on a bus. On the trip they didn’t allow us to skip meals. By the end of the long weekend I felt so stuffed and sick and I felt so hopeless about my eating disorder I couldn’t fight it. What followed was severe depression and thoughts of suicide. I hid that as well. I hid in my room, even though that’s where my demons were. I hid from my family. I didn’t have any friends. Not one. I was completely alone. Except I wasn’t.

I read the Psalms through multiple times. God pulled me out. God showed me I was worth more than my self-esteem. He captured my attention. He took my mind off the excruciating pain in my stomach. He took my mind off of myself. He conquered the disorder.(For more about this time see my previous blog posts. I surprisingly have an easier time talking about how I almost killed myself.)

I shared my testimony at church and the result was a woman in her 20s shared her own story with me. For the first time in my life I felt like it wasn’t just me (and only recently my mom) fighting a hidden war.

In the 8th grade I wore a size zero. I have been the same height since before then, yet I was probably 110 pounds and a size zero.

By the time I hit freshman year I’d put on 15 more pounds, but that was mostly in the womanly areas. With the stress of school and the lack of motivation to pack a lunch I slipped into a really sucky pattern of only eating once a day: when getting home from school. I remember Rebekah making comments about how our (my two next oldest brothers and my’s) eating patterns were indicative of eating disorders but I thought in my head “I eat a lot more than I used to, I’m doing fine.”

I wasn’t doing fine and when we did BMI’s in my gym class I scored a 19. Which is technically normal. but barely. And for me, my BMI is always going to be a little higher than it should be. My teacher didn’t even blink. I ached. I burned. I screamed. I wanted someone to take me aside and help me. But I was too afraid, too ashamed to ask for help. Towards the end of the year life started normalizing(what does that even mean? Life hasn’t been normal since I started down this road….) and I gained 10 more pounds.

One day my sophomore year I had a panic attack and ended up spending half of the day in the counselors office. My period was late and I was terrified that I was losing it. Again. The only reason I went to the counselor was because my former detasseling bus driver(who also teaches biology) saw me crying in the hall during lunch break and practically dragged me there. I lucked out in the counselors office.

The woman who I ended up talking to was subbing for another counselor. After talking for a little while she did a huge public school no-no, one that probably saved me life. She said “I’m guessing your faith is very important to you. Well, Grace…” And she proceeded to speak the word of God into my life. It turns out she was home fundraising to return to the mission field and had picked up the sub job as a favor to a former coworker. We talked. My mom showed up. We talked some more. I went home early. My mom called and set me up an appointment with the doctor. We went. We talked. We were referred to the psychiatrists office across the hall. We scheduled an appointment. We canceled a week later. We decided to do our own recovery.

Now I’m wondering if we should’ve kept the appointment.

Seven years and 40 pounds later and I haven’t changed at all. I feel like my mind is broken.

I hate the feeling of constant starvation. I hate the feeling of being stuffed beyond anything because of a piece of toast. I hate the fluctuation between pigging out one day and spending the next curled up in the fetal position. I hate getting dizzy when I stand up. I hate the stretch marks that line my hips and thighs. I hate that little pooch that sticks out over my jeans. I hate the lanugo. I hate seeing little droplets of water getting caught in it when I shower. I hate that glaring 145 whenever I step on the scale. I hate thinspiration. I hate the eating disorder section in every nutrition and psychology class I’ve ever been in. I hate that I have big hands. I hate fat jokes. I hate thin jokes. I hate our societies fixation on weight. I hate that it isn’t another philosophical discussion that I can get impersonally angry about. I hate that my ribs, sternum and collar bone stick out. I hate that I’ve never thought of myself as thin. I hate that I’m terrified of being bigger than I am now. I hate that I can’t trust what I see in the mirror. I hate that I gain weight when I exercise. I hate that at any given moment I could vomit. I hate that I’ve hurt everyone that’s important to me. I hate that I isolate myself. I hate that I like the isolation. I hate when people ask “how are you” and all I can think is “I can’t tell you.” I hate how vulnerable I am. I hate that I can’t do this on my own. I hate that this ever happened in the first place. I hate that my coworkers make sharp comments about the disease. I hate that they don’t know. I hate that one of my residents guessed it and called me out on it. I hate that I can’t go a single day without being reminded. I hate that I cry at church every week because I’m reminded that I am completely wretched and God is completely forgiving. I hate that I’ve lost sight of the victory I have in Christ.

I hate that I feel like I did this to myself. I hate that I feel like God isn’t bigger than my problem.

I need Jesus. Desperately.

And for whoever is reading this(ugh I’m so pathetic) I need you to be vocal. I need you to text me, call me, message me, do whatever you have to do to tell me that I’m not alone and that I can do it. Even when I’m crabby and get angry I need you to do it. Don’t ask me what I ate. Don’t tell me to eat. Tell me I can survive. Remind me that God is bigger.

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2 Responses to Full Disclosure: Thoughts on my eating disorder

  1. Richard Bockwinkel says:

    Grace…be patient…and keep your devotion. You are a blessing to others for your honesty and integrity. My son, whom you met, Ollie, gave me a book for Christmas. It is “St. Augustine, Day by Day”. I will send you a copy… Sincere regards, Richard Bockwinkel

  2. Helen says:

    I wish I was as brave as you are, truly. Hang in there.

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