When I was 11-16 I suffered from an eating disorder. I didn’t know how to manage the chaos that was my life: school, friends, boys, family, etc. The one thing I thought I could control was my weight. I suddenly became obsessed with losing weight. Not knowing much about exercise outside of P.E. class or cheerleading practice I decided to focus on losing weight by restricting my diet. I skipped meals, often for days, or I binged everything out of desperation and then purged it in the bathroom. This endless cycle of feeling down about myself and emotions of losing control took over my life for a good 5 years.
I didn’t know how to cope with stress and anxiety. I thought I needed to be in control all the time and the one thing I took control over was what I was putting into my body. I would lie awake at night listening to the grumbles of my stomach echo off my bedroom walls. I would debate for hours if/what I could eat the next day or if I could eat at all.
When I was 23 I found a new coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety: alcohol. Though my eating disorder was long over, my feelings about food hadn’t changed but I was no longer restricting myself. Instead, I was eating everything. I took “treat yo-self” to a whole new level. 30 pounds and a lot of blackouts later, I needed to reevaluate my choices. I replaced one vice, an eating disorder, with another, alcohol consumption. All to numb the pain I didn’t know how to deal with.
At first it was fun and casual. A few drinks out with friends, going to new bars/clubs, and staying out all night. Then it became a habit, like an addiction, of going out every weekend. I made friends with bartenders and found myself down a rabbit hole of shots, drinks, and people whose names I couldn’t remember the next morning. Instead of facing my problems I drank them away. Addicted to the free-spirited rush I got once I hit a certain number of drinks.
It wasn’t until I was 24 that I began seeing a therapist and working on myself that I learned new coping mechanisms and got down to the root of my stress and anxiety. I didn’t understand how to have a healthy relationship with food because I never really had one. When I thought I needed to lose weight I immediately started restricting food instead of learning “how to choose the right foods and why”. When I was younger I turned my nose up at exercise instead of realizing how powerful it can be for stress relief.
Once I got myself in a mindset of, “I can do this, the right way.” I began to research what foods to eat for weight loss, workouts for beginners, and mediation apps. I started to try new things and see how they made me feel or how my body reacted. I started running which gave me the high I craved – endorphins. It was the addiction I had been needing all along. Suddenly, I found myself craving my post-work workouts. I started channeling my daily stress into my runs on the treadmill. I kept a mental note of how much weight I was lifting and how many reps I was doing and would praise myself when I increased my weight. I scrolled for hours on Pinterest pinning new recipes and workouts eager to get home and try them. I was talking out my problems with my therapist, some of them stemming from childhood, that I hadn’t ever really talked about. I was crying on the sofa as the trauma came to light but feeling invigorated as I left the baggage behind as I walked out of her office each week. I was taking care of my mind, body, and soul.
It took me 25 years to learn to love my body and to build a relationship between the two. I had to come to grips with some pretty traumatic experiences that prevented me from dealing with my problems head on. I used to think that my issues weren’t as bad as what other people suffer or experience but in reality, it matters just as much. Now, I’m in a better place, working on myself one day at a time.
I have a healthy relationship with someone who sees the good in me and how capable I am of living my best life and not being tied down by my past. It took a lot of tears, looking at myself in the mirror, and really asking myself “What do you want and what are you willing to do for it?”
Now the only thing I’m addicted to is my French Press and Nespresso. A warm cup of coffee is all I need to take a step back and ask myself, “What do I need?” A French Press is more time consuming then a Nespresso which is what I love to use on the weekends, it forces me to take my time and enjoy the moment.
If anyone needs advice or just wants to chat, I’m here.