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Mom With An Eating Disorder: Turning Struggles Into Strengths

I have an eating disorder.  Typing those words makes me cringe.  Those words are embarrassing.  I have been ashamed for so long.  Bulimia came from feelings of never believing that I was enough.  Always trying to be something I was not and trying to have the body I was not meant to have.

Usually when you think of someone with an eating disorder you think of a teenage or college age girl.  So what happens when that girl grows up and becomes a mom?  The eating disorder does not care, it is not just going to say goodbye.

My parents divorced when I was 8 years old.  As a kid, you don’t understand the complexity of relationships and why things don’t work out.  You’re just hopeful – hopeful that things will just be normal again.

Fast forward a few years to age 14.  This is when my mom remarried and I moved with her to a new town, a new house, a new school, a new family.  I felt like I could never love this man she married because that would seem like I was betraying my Dad.  So I put up a wall.  The biggest wall I could ever build.  It was ugly.  It was my own self hate and loss of control.

Enter eating disorder and depression.  I somehow decided that controlling what I ate and the number on the scale was something I could focus on.  The scale was like a game to me.  I would weigh myself in the morning and see if I could weigh less by the end of the day.

Next thing I know I’m being treated in a hospital for depression, bulimia and anorexia.  I stayed in that hospital for two weeks before they released me to go home and continue treatment with outside counseling.

I relapsed throughout high school.  For the most part I was able to keep in under control but I always struggled with my body image.  I compared myself to other girls and never thought I was pretty enough or thin enough.

Any time something in my life became stressful or was out of my control, I would turn to my eating disorder for comfort.  I had this constant internal struggle.  I didn’t want anyone to see my imperfections.  Hiding this secret caused me to have an overwhelming feeling of guilt and self-hate.  Especially after becoming a mom.  I was so disappointed that I could not overcome this on my own and I didn’t know how to ask for help.  I felt like a hypocrite.  I was the one always giving advice to people on how to eat healthy, yet, I continued to struggle with this eating disorder.

The biggest relapse happened fairly recent.  It started when we found out that my husband got a promotion at work that would relocate us to Arizona which is 1,800 miles away from where we lived in South Dakota.  I was excited for the move but unfortunately things did not happen smoothly.  I ended up staying with the kids while the house was for sale and my husband left right away for work.  The house did not sell for a long time and our family was separated for 15 months.

I was working my job as an insurance agent, taking nutrition classes online so that I could pursue a new career after the move, taking care of two toddlers and keeping the entire house clean for showings.  I became extremely overwhelmed very quickly.  I was staying up late to clean the house and listen to online lectures for school.  I was on a roller coaster of emotions and the depression started to set in.  Before I knew it, I was in a full-blown bulimia relapse.

So here I was, married with two healthy and vibrant children and I was studying nutrition, yet, I couldn’t let go of this dark thing in my life.  I always thought I would grow up and grow out of this, but until I decided to address it and get the help I really needed, it was always going to be there.

I eventually made the decision to start talking.  I first told my mom and my husband.  I then decided to see a doctor who prescribed an antidepressant for the depression and to help with the bulimia.  I started to notice a change in my mood.  I changed my diet and was eating clean foods again.  I was able to discontinue the medication.  I was no longer exercising just to burn calories.  I was working out because it felt good and was making me stronger.  I focused on fueling my body so that I could have more energy and be nourished.

I share my story so that I can help women who have gone through issues in their own life that made them struggle with food, their weight or their body image.  I want people to see that they too can overcome these things with proper nutrition, exercise and a good support system.

I want my children to see me as a role model and lead by example to give them the best chance at a long and healthy life.  In order for me to give them that gift, I have to take care of myself and love myself.  I had to forgive myself for the way that I treated my body.  I had to let go of the guilt that I carried from taking time away from my children and giving that time to my eating disorder.

Living a healthy life isn’t always easy and obstacles will always arise.  It’s how we choose to navigate those obstacles that is important.

I have now discovered that I am enough – exactly as I am.  I am no longer ashamed and I am proud of the woman I have become.  I have learned that an eating disorder does not define who I am, it is simply a piece of my journey and a story I am meant to share in order to help others.

Hiking landscape

I would love to hear from you!  Reach out to me on FaceBook or Instagram.





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4 Responses to Mom With An Eating Disorder: Turning Struggles Into Strengths

  1. Melissa
    Melissa August 6, 2016 at 1:56 am #

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. It gives me insight into a different and painful world. I am happy to hear your recovery is going well!

  2. sarah August 8, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    thanks for sharing this! your courage and bravery to share is a huge thing as most of the world doesn’t talk about it, let alone recognize it in “moms” as you say! i struggled for 20+ years and am so thankful for other mamas who are willing to share their story so we can decrease the stigmas and create awareness for our friends, sisters, and daughters!

  3. Krystal August 8, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! I personally struggled with these same issues and being a parent makes it twise as scary!!

  4. Krystal August 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! I personally struggled with these same issues and being a parent makes it twice as scary!!

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