I never imagined it would happen to me. And if I am being perfectly honest it was never on my radar. I never even knew what an eating disorder was. But when it happened to me during my freshman year of college, I was shocked. All I could think was how could this have happened to me of all people.
I grew up playing every sport under the sun. You name it, I played it. I never once thought about how all this activity would change my body, help me burn calories or lose weight. Literally NEVER thought about it. It didn’t even dawn on me. I played to win, to have fun, to enjoy the competition and the friends that came along with it. And I certainly never thought about the food I was eating. NEVER! I would eat McDonalds or pizza on alternating Fridays because that was what our family did. I would drink Dr. Pepper and eat Doritos as I studied at 2am. Chips, ice cream, candy, pasta, bread, bagels, none of it was off limits. I did obviously eat other foods because of course my parents provided that as well but there were literally no rules or restrictions around food in my house. It just was not a thing.
So, when I went away to college to play Division I field hockey I never imagined that I would have to give up field hockey and leave college because of an eating disorder. NEVER! It is still truly hard to believe because I never saw it coming. But when it did happen, it happened hard. I was fully committed to it. It became the biggest part of my world. Every day revolved around what I was eating, rather not eating, what I was going to do for a workout and how else I could lose weight. My eating disorder completely took over and changed my life. I could no longer focus in class so my grades starting to suffer. I had no energy to practice or play in my field hockey games so my performance started to suffer and my spot on the team was in jeopardy. All my friendships were strained. No one wanted to be around me. Everything that was once important to me no longer mattered. And even with all this happening I still continued. My eating disorder became the most important thing to me. How I went from being fully engaged in my life, focused on school, friends, field hockey etc. to solely focused on eating as little as I could and shrinking my body, still to this day blows my mind.
But it goes to show that eating disorders DO NOT discriminate. Even the people with the healthiest relationship with food and their body are in jeopardy of experiencing this. Even if you have never been exposed to eating disorders or disordered it can happen to you. I am the perfect example of this. I was healthy. I never thought about food. I never thought about my body. But there I was with a full-blown eating disorder that took over my life. So, you are not alone if this is something you are experiencing but you don’t deserve to continue to struggle.
I thankfully was able to fully recover from my eating disorder, but it took a long time. I initially didn’t face what was really driving these behaviors. I just, without professional help (I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS) started returning to healthier habits of eating and exercising. But because I didn’t do the deeper work to understand what was driving these behaviors, the unhealthy habits would return when things in my life got very stressful or felt out of control. And so, for years very disordered behaviors would resurface.
What I know now is eating disorders and disordered eating stem from emotional issues. And it wasn’t until I faced my own issues (with help this time!) that I finally fully recovered. Looking back, it still surprises me that I struggled with this, but I can now say that I am completely grateful for my experience. It has led me to the work that I do now. Helping other people move away from the obsessive all consuming, life altering struggle with food and body is something that myself and my practice are passionate about. And as you know it happens to so many people, even the ones that least expect it.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating please reach out and schedule a call with us!