Okay, so yeah, I know I’ve kind of abandoned you guys on the random ramblings of Mandy..but I’m sorry. Graduate school has just got me so busy and teaching the little students really wears you out at the end of the day. But I have to tell you guys, my 2nd graders are the MOST ADORABLE BEINGS ON THE PLANET! And that’s coming from a totally objective view here 🙂
Haha okay, but seriousness here. This week really hits home with me as its NEDA Week and I know I struggle with an eating disorder. I say “struggle” because although I am at a healthy place now and have come to peace (for the most part…let’s face it I will always be trying to come to peace) with my body, I will always still be struggling with my eating disorder and it will forever be a part of my life. Which I have come to be okay with. I know that in my darkest moments all I wished for was to read a story about someone just like me who was able to overcome this on their own (without having to go in-patient). I craved for that hope that it was possible to overcome and that I would one day be able to live my life again to it’s fullest. It’s all I ever wanted and it’s what I couldn’t get. So, for those of you who want to hear of someone who was able to fight this disorder and live to tell the tale…here it is. I just really wanted to tell tell someone my story during this week…even if it is to the non-people who read my blog lol. Perhaps one day, someone who needs it will stumble upon here and find inspiration to keep going, to keep fighting. If just one person finds this helpful, I’ll deem this a success. Anyways….here’s my story.
My name is Mandy and I am 23 years old. I’m probably in the minority, but college was the worst time of my life for it was when I developed my eating disorder. Although I was overweight (180 lbs on a good day at 5’6″), that is not the main reason it developed. I will admit that I was never very satisfied of my body and always a little embarrassed, however I was a very active and sporty girl. When I was young I played every sport I could and although I may have been overweight, I was muscular and strong.
Then Freshman year of college came. I joined the crew team and gained a bunch of friends. Originally, crew started off as a good thing for me. It got me out and active and put me in the best shape I’ve ever been…I ran my first ever 5 miles. However, as the year went on, I got more and more focused on exercising. Come lent, I gave up ice cream and eventually candy and sugar in general. It started off as just a simple competition with myself…how long could I last…and turned into what would be a 4 year streak of no sugary foods and continued cutting of “bad” foods.
Although it essentially started freshman year, by the end of freshman year I was still okay. During the summer I got a little worse and a little weirder with what foods I would eat. I started exercising a lot (not even taking breaks for vacation) and refused to eat out.
At the start of Sophomore year it hadn’t gotten worse, but it hadn’t gotten better either. I was still obsessed with eating “healthy” and exercising. Yet I still wasn’t at a bad weight and looked pretty healthy. I didn’t start to completely crack until I lost all control of my life when our dorms got mold and I had to move onto a small, tiny cruise-ship for the rest of the semester.
Yes, my eating disorder due to a lack of control. I never felt worthy of anyone and always felt like I had to keep proving myself to my friends in order for them to stay friends with me. I never felt completely comfortable with myself and therefore never felt completely comfortable in my friend group. I always felt inadequate. I felt like I had no control over whether or not my friends liked me.
Throughout sophomore year and junior year I continued to lose weight until I was 5’6″ and less than 90 lbs. At that point my family had gotten involved and I was seeing a nutritionist, a therapist, and a anorexia nervosa doctor. At the same time, I continued to go to college 2 hours away and miraculously maintained my 4.0 GPA.
It wasn’t until 2 weeks before Senior year, when my doctor threatened that I would go inpatient and not be able to go to school, that I finally started listening to everyone. I gained about 20 pounds in those last 3 weeks before school and started seeing more clearly. I had been living in a cloud of deception and lies (told to myself by myself) for the past 2 years. I have since gained over 40 pounds (making myself a good weight of 130 lbs). I continue to exercise, but I do it now because it makes me feel good and helps me relieve stress, not to lose calories. I still have issues with food and obstacles to overcome but I am in a much healthier place than I was before. I have finally learned to love myself and accept myself and see that food is not the enemy. What started 5 years ago has been the worst-best experience of my life. It has gotten me to a point where I can finally be at peace with myself (although I still struggle some days), but it came with a terrible price.
My eating disorder put stress on my family and lost me my college years. I would not wish this on anyone, but in a way I’m glad it happened to me. I think it has made me stronger both mentally and physically and I’m not sure I wold ever have been able to come a place of peace without it. I needed to lose myself to learn that I actually did love myself the way I was.
- The hardest thing for me to learn was that food is not the enemy, it is my friend. I need food to survive, and if my body needs more food than other peoples, than that is something I need to accept. Without food it wouldn’t matter how lean I was because eventually there would be no me. You need to do what is right for your body and your body only. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else because you are not like anyone else. As long as you are eating healthy, less processed food and your body is telling you you need more, do it.
- Just remember that you bring something to the world, and that without you in the world, the world would be incomplete. No one can fill your shoes better than you, so be the best you you can be. Yes, I realize this sounds really corny haha.
So yep. There is definitely a LOT more to my story than that and if you have questions or need clarifications please feel free to comment. I am honestly pretty open about this and willing to talk about it as I hope that it will help others.