When I was 16 years old, I was hospitalized with an eating disorder. I had been struggling for a while before then, but it had gotten to the point where this disease controlled my life. From sleeping patterns to daily activities, everything in my life revolved around this disease. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was unhappy and unhealthy.
Fast forward 10 years, and this disease is still a reality in my life – not like it was when I hospitalized the first time, but it is still a struggle. Eventually, after that initial diagnosis, I did get to the point where I am both mentally and physically healthy. It took years of hard work, an amazing team of health professionals, and loving family and friends for me to get to that place. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an everyday struggle to stay there.
We don’t own a scale in our house because I become obsessed with weighing myself 7 – 20 times a day. Over obsessing on the amount of food and what foods I consume is a reality in my life. Sometimes I catch myself subconsciously pinching and poking at the parts of my body that are not magazine perfect (and I have many of those areas). It is a struggle for me, and I know it will always be a struggle for me. I don’t think someone can be ‘cured’ from anorexia. Every day someone with this disease must get up and put their armor on for that day’s battle. And some days are better than others. Some weeks, some months, and some years are better than others are. Nevertheless, it’s still a battle, and very much a reality in my life.
Yes, every day I must choose to love myself for who I am and how I was made. But relapse is not my worst fear. I have been extremely blessed with some amazing family and friends that would stand with me through treatments again if I ever were to relapse. I also have been blessed with an amazing husband. I don’t have to hide my illness from my husband. I know that if I have to fight a particular battle, I can talk to my husband without judgement. I know he will help me work through it without any hesitation. My family and friends would be my shoulder to cry one and my biggest cheerleaders if I was ever to relapse. They already are. Relapse is not my biggest fear. My biggest fear with this disease I battle is passing it on to my three beautiful girls.
It honestly scares the crap out of me because I don’t want them to have to face the same battles as I have to face. My strategy? It’s all about balance. If we compliment their outward beauty, we match it with a compliment to their inward beauty. My husband and I teach our girls about the importance of proper potions and healthy foods, but it’s also okay to splurge on treats too. It’s good to be active, but it’s also good to have a lazy PJ day too.
When they get older, I plan to share my struggles and be honest with them – age appropriately, of course. They are going to have some questions, and they are going to be hard questions. I know it’s coming. But I think it’s important for them to know that this is a real battle for some. It’s not something to be mocked or ignored. And if they ever do find themselves facing the same battle, I want them to know that I understand their struggle. Their dad and I will be standing there with them every step helping them. I want them to know they will never have to fight alone.
Yes, I’m a mother with an eating disorder. Yes, I struggle. But every day I wake up and put on my armor for myself and my family. And if I teach my girls anything about this disease it would be that it is very real, and not something to ignore. Millions of people are fighting this disease. And if my girls ever find themselves struggling with the same battles I face, I hope they know they will never be alone. I will be right there with them. I will be there to pick them up, I will be there to lean on. I will be there when they are crying and when they have success. And most importantly, I will be there to show them what I already know – They were beautifully made inside and out.