Essie's Story of Struggle and Recovery
I can remember the first time I skipped a meal. I was 6. I remember feeling that I was worthless, and so why did I deserve to eat. I didn't really understand what I was feeling and what I was thinking, but somehow, this made sense to me. Little did I know I was beginning on a horrible long path that would last the next 20 years.
As a young child I was molested over and over again by someone I knew for several years. Since I was so little I suppressed the memories and feelings of shame and hate for myself took a deep root. As I grew up I began to turn to food to sooth myself. I began the cycle of over eating and starving myself. I was hurting and confused but I managed to keep anyone from realizing I was dealing with some major issues. I got to a point where I did not know why I was doing what I was doing, but I was stuck in a cycle that seemed hopeless.
When I began high school I was still stuck in the cycle of binging and starving, and as I also played sports, I was sucked into an exercise addiction. I felt completely helpless all the time, I was depressed and really didn't want to live anymore. I somehow managed to make my way through high school all the while stuck in this horrible lifestyle.
Despite all the awful things I was doing to my body, I managed to succeed in school by getting good grades, and getting accepted to many different colleges. I also was involved in sports and music. On the surface it looked like I was doing well, and should have been happy.
Moving Away to College
When I moved away from home and went to college I thought that a change of scenery and living on my own would be easier to make positive changes that would get me out of this awful cycle of disordered eating and exercise addictions. For a short time I managed to get a break from everything, but as the stress of college, and living away from my support system at home I fell back into the cycles and fell even harder. I became really good at hiding my eating disorder, and over exercise from my friends. Most people thought I was 'healthy' with my eating and workouts, but that was so far from the truth.
I graduated college and began the application process for graduate schools. All the while slipping further and further. With all the disordered eating struggles I had I never seemed to be able to lose the weight I really wanted to lose. I did not know at the time I had a thyroid disorder that prevented me from losing weight normally. Then began 6 years sucked into bulimia along with starving myself and over exercising. The depression and feelings of hopelessness continued to grow stronger and stronger.
A Deeper Spiral
During the end of my grad school program I started to have flashbacks and night terrors of what happened to me when I was a young child. I was really freaked out about it all and confided in my boyfriend at the time. That turned out to be a bad idea to tell him because he ended up raping me. That sent me into a spiral deeper and longer than I had ever had before. I tried to kill myself several times and finally admitted to 2 of my best friends that I needed some major help. So the day after my last suicide attempt, I started counseling to bring some sort of stability as I looked into finding help and treatment.
Treatment and Recovery
At age 26, almost 20 years to the date of my first skipped mean, I entered a treatment program. It took some time, but I was able to slowly identify the painful memories from my past and how they had taken over who I thought I was. I learned I had believed so many lies about myself, and retrained myself to what the truth was about who I am. I am NOT my eating disorder, and I am NOT a helpless victim anymore.
I have been out of treatment more than 4 years. I have not had perfect days, but I am not stuck in the awful cycles I was in for SO many years. It is still a learning process, but I am alive and well. I found a wonderful man who loves me for who I am, and I have been happily married for a little over a year.