So, today is National I Want You to be Happy Day! What a perfect way to wrap-up last week’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, because I am lucky enough to be an incredibly happy person now and want everyone fighting an eating disorder to know they can have that as well. If you missed last week’s series, you can go back to read day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4 before continuing below if you like.
I had my ups and downs once I went back to school in the fall of 1996. I did feel weird having to sit out of gym class for the first month or so because I wasn’t at my goal weight yet. Once I had gained more weight and was allowed to gradually get back to exercise, I had some struggles again. I had a lot of close calls my first year post-hospitalization in terms of needing to be hospitalized again due to bradycardia, or low heart rate (my official reason for being hospitalized). I was taken off exercise for weeks at a time throughout that first year, leading to many emotional highs and lows, not to mention those teenage hormonal swings!
What got me through the entire experience and everything that followed was the incredible support from my parents and brother. Sure, we fought plenty. I did a good job of (unintentionally) making things difficult. I can’t imagine the pain and heartache I put them through and hope I never have to experience anything like it with my children. I am so lucky to have such a loving, supportive family.
Making it to eight grade graduation felt like such an accomplishment for all of us so many reasons.
I especially can’t imagine how hard it was for my brother, to have all the attention on me for such a long time. But he stuck by me and never judged. On the positive side, I think the experience brought us closer and led us to be extremely supportive of each other as teens and now as adults.
Once I got to high school, I flourished. I was surrounded by a great group of fellow dorks who got me. I was even more motivated to keep up my weight in order to be able to participate in sports.
Sure, there was the usual teenage stuff, but I was able to take it all in stride because it was nothing compared to what I had been through in middle school and with anorexia. In a good way, having anorexia allowed me to have better perspective in life. Things that would be a big deal to some of my peers didn’t faze me.
Unfortunately, I was hospitalized again toward the end of my sophomore year (spring 1999) due to bradycardia. To put it simply, I had gained a bit more weight than I was comfortable with in the winter of 1999 due to being inactive because of a Mononucleosis-like virus. Apparently, an 8-10 pound weight loss over the course of about a month was too much for my body. I was devastated to be hospitalized because I knew I was nowhere near the same place mentally as I was during my original hospitalization. Lab tests showed that my thyroid had slowed to a near halt, which is what led my doctor do an EKG. Resting heart rate: 37!
My medical history necessitated meeting with a few psychologists while inpatient, but they quickly realized I didn’t have much need of their services and that it was a purely medical admission. I was discharged from the medical unit after about five days and returned to normal life. I spoke with my doctor about this hospitalization only a few years ago and she says she still questions whether I needed to be admitted or whether I could have been managed outpatient. Seeing how my heart rate monitor went off multiple times in the night while hospitalized, I think she made the right call and it was a good wake-up call for me to be cautious with weight loss in the future.
As you may have seen on my about page, I did have some struggles with my relationship with food at some points in my life following my battle with anorexia, mostly in my late college and early working years. It’s only been in the past few years that I feel I’ve finally developed what I feel is my healthiest relationship ever in my life with food.
I see food as nourishment. It nourishes my body so I can feel the best and do what I ask of my body. It nourishes my soul when I share a meal with family or friends. It nourishes my senses. Food is fuel and it is fun and it is fabulous. I eat as healthfully as I can afford to and I still enjoy indulging from time to time. And when I feel I’ve gotten off track, I’m able to rein myself back in. To me, that is a healthy relationship with food.
And if I ever get way off track, I have an amazing support system to help get me back to where I should be. Not only do I have my family that has stuck through it with me from the start, but I have Whole Health Husband and his amazing family who has supported me through other difficulties. I am such a lucky girl and continue to be incredibly grateful for this blessed life that I have.
So that concludes my week-long dive into my past struggles with anorexia in conjunction with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Thank you for coming along for the ride! The rest of the week will be back to regular ol’ WHD. 🙂