Mirrors show us what we look like, not who we are. - Aaron Ferguson
This is a post I have been thinking about doing for a long time, but I guess I haven’t had the courage to pen the words I’m about to share with you.
So why am I sharing now? I had a revelation around the time my daughter, Willow, was born; things that are kept a secret, hold their power.
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with an eating disorder.
You probably wouldn’t have ever noticed, maybe now that you’ve read these words you may think you could have seen the signs, but the truth is secrets and lies share the same DNA and for a long time, I have been very good at both.
“Oh sorry I took so long, there was a massive line at the bathroom.”
“I ate a massive lunch before I got here so I’m not hungry right now, I’ll just have a coffee.”
These are some of the lies that have escaped my mouth in the past, and if you’re someone I love and spend time with – I’m sorry, you’ve probably been a victim to one of them.
I was a chubby little child growing up and have had a soft spot for anything sweet my whole life. My mother said I gave her gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with me, because all she craved was cake.
My eating disorder didn’t start however until I was 12. I turned to food for comfort because I experienced bullying, a traumatic experience and a whole lot of self hate, and after having Willow these things absolutely TERRIFY me.
In my 27 years of life, I have been overweight, bulimic and at one point, anorexic. I was obsessed with weighing myself and seeing those numbers decline.
I have been admitted to hospital with dangerously low levels of potassium and visited multiple doctors and specialists.
At times, I would get on the treadmill at 3am because I was fearful that the hot chocolate I had with a friend would mean weight gain. Or spend hours and hours at the gym trying to burn as many calories as I could before I left.
It was never about food, it was about control and at times being out of control. Being obsessed with achieving the ‘perfect weight’ or ‘perfect size’, yet these goals were never actually achievable because nothing was ever good enough.
So why am I sharing this? Because I don’t think it’s talked about enough.
It’s a topic that’s a little bit uncomfortable and a little bit embarrassing to admit, yet it’s absolutely life draining. It’s exhausting, it’s tiring, it’s confusing, it’s damaging, it’s painful and you are worth so much more.
There have been multiple (and when I say multiple, I mean like hundreds) occasions where I committed to getting better. Telling myself repeatedly that this would be the last time I throw up, count my calories or weigh myself and yet I know that the follow through of this is so hard when you’re trying to do it on your own.
For a long time I believed I wasn’t ‘sick’ enough to need help, or that I didn’t really have an eating disorder because I didn’t throw up every day.
But it wasn’t until I admitted to myself that I had a problem and sought out to get professional help that things started to shift in my life.
To anyone struggling with an eating disorder, please know that there is help available. I’m in no way a medical professional, but I know the help I received from both a psychologist and life coach was quite literally life changing. (Please see the end of this post for a list of where you can seek help.)
So, am I better? In all honesty, I still have bad days. I’m so much better than I was a few years ago, but I guess I am still recovering. I realised that I didn't want to look back on my life and think about how I spent all this time trying to achieve this fantasy of being perfect, I wanted to live and experience my life. Embrace its wonder and be present in each of its moments.
The road to recovery looks different for everyone, for some it's a smooth road with ocean views and for others its bumpy, windy and has detours along the way.
In all honesty, it may take months or years for that voice in my head to go down – but having people around me to keep me accountable has been the best thing I have ever done.
I’ve read about alcoholics who are 20 years sober and continue to go to AA meetings to ensure they stay on that path of sobriety.
There’s something about being accountable that empowers you – when secrets come out, they lose their power.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please know that you are not alone. You are a beautiful and incredible individual and your life is worth so much.
There is help available, if you're in Australia the following is available to you:
- National Eating Disorder Collaboration, they even have a hotline you can call (1800 33 4673).
- Your local GP can provide you with a mental health plan which you can use to see a psychologist with the assistance of Medicare.
My life coach/mentor/amazing friend/life saver Bethany Lentz Murdock has been instrumental in my recovery and I am so incredibly grateful for her voice in my life. If you would like to go down the path of life coaching, please feel free to contact her via her website.