The holidays have ended, and we’ve entered a new year. A lot happened in 2018. The year started with me in denial about my developing an eating disorder. I remember celebrating my birthday with a piece of cake and then hopping on the treadmill to burn off the cake I let myself eat. Yes, this was a red flag for my illness, but I ignored it. By February, I refused to go out to eat unless it was sushi and was obsessed with logging miles on the treadmill. This is when I began spitting out food. I would let myself take a bite of something sweet, chew it a few times, then spit the bite out into the nearest garbage can. I remember on Fat Tuesday refusing to let my body run less than ____ miles because I was going to be eating a donut later; another red flag.
March brought my first time attempting to make myself puke. I remember watching Netflix at my kitchen table and eating some popcorn. I felt out of control as I was eating the popcorn by the handful. I could not handle the guilt of eating the flavored popcorn, so to the bathroom I went. After several attempts, I was unsuccessful. The voice in my head called me a failure and hot tears started to stream down my face. This is when I first admitted to my mom that I thought I had a problem but did not want to get any help because I was too stubborn to admit that I could not fight my demons myself.
April came, and I began showing signs of my illness. My eyes started sinking in and my body started aching all the time. I ran a 5K on April 28th and knew a mile into it that my body was starting to deteriorate. I finished with a time of 25:55. I got first place by 3 seconds, so I ignored what my body was telling me because I was getting the results I wanted. I ran another 5k on May 6th. Another first-place finish; however, I started experiencing severe swelling in my legs. This is a sign of a severe protein deficiency. Once again, I ignored the signs of my body screaming for help. On May 7th, I went to the doctors to start to seek help. I did it for my mom and boyfriend, but not for myself. My heart rate was 36. The physician’s assistant placed both hands on my legs and told me that if my heart rate was one beat lower that she would want me to get a pacemaker. I was ordered to wear a Holter Monitor for 48 hours to see if my heart was doing anything else irregular. I was also instructed not to run. I did not listen. A few days later, I went to a festival with my boyfriend and a good friend. I was cold the whole time while my friend was in a tank top. We had dinner at a Japenese Steakhouse; where I only allowed myself to have a few pieces of a vegetable sushi roll.
On May 17th, I got a call from the cardiologist to clear me and tell me that my heart looked okay and I could resume running. This phone call happened on my way to Toledo with Brandon for a long weekend trip. I ran another 5k at the Toledo Zoo on May 19th with a time of 27:29. We only went out to eat once on this trip because I was incredibly strict about what I ate.
I started my first short clinical after the Toledo trip and made my first call to Allison, the best dietitian in the world. I left her a voicemail saying that I was suffering from an eating disorder and wanted to get help.
June, July, and most of August were all a blur. I no longer had the energy to run 3 miles. I barely ate and always wore a jacket. Even on the 90-degree days, I still was cold. I think July was when Allison, my dietitian, started having me eat “fear foods”. This list was very long for me and consisted of all carbs and some fruits and vegetables. Once to twice a week, she would have me eat a half a cup of one of my fear foods with dinner. She incorporated this in hopes that I would begin to eat my fear foods more often. Instead, I did the exact opposite. I compensated for the fear foods but eating less at other meals or putting the fear foods in my mouth and spitting them back out.
On August 22nd, I thought I was going to die. I was driving to the work for the third day of my full-time clinical when a sharp pain started in my stomach. By the time I parked at the facility, I could not move. The pain was so extreme that it was paralyzing. I called my boyfriend and to the ER we went. Once I was placed in a room, I do not remember anything. I felt like I had one foot on Earth and another foot in the afterlife. I was severely constipated due to my body holding onto my feces in an attempt to use it for food. I was so sick and malnourished that my body was trying to survive on it’s own feces. This is incredibly toxic and can cause death quite quickly. My gallbladder, liver, heart, and thyroid were all starting to shut down. My heart rate was 25 and I weighed ____ pounds. Death was knocking at my door.
I had some family and two amazing friends visit me at the hospital. I got discharged at the hospital on August 24th and immediately went home and ran. Could I have been more of an idiot? On August 25th, I got matching tattoos with the friends that visited me at the hospital. That tattoo became and still is my daily reminder to fight.
On August 26th at 12:57 AM, I had my first bowl of Cookies N Cream ice cream. I made myself a bowl, went into my mom’s bedroom and told her that I wanted her to witness the first REAL step towards recovery. Two more bowls of ice cream and two bowls of cereal followed that first bowl of ice cream. It was truly a night to remember.
Since that day, I have been on a roller coaster of recovery. It has been the hardest thing I have faced but it has given me so many opportunities to help others. I have been able to inspire, educate, and help random strangers. I do not regret developing my eating disorder. Yes, it was unfortunate, but I have already helped so many people and I am not even 6 months into my recovery.
So, what is the most important thing I did in 2018?