Thursday, March 14, 2013

The whole truth and nothing but

I have an eating disorder.

This is no surprise to you. I have often talked about my compulsive overeating. But I've never really told you the whole story. And as hard as this is, I need to tell you the complete truth today.

In 2001, I was still reeling from my mom's death. I had lost a lot of weight before she died, but I started binging to combat my grief, and my weight was creeping higher and higher. I turned to another commercial weight loss program. I met weekly with a program counselor, and I'd go home with prepackaged meals. I thought that would finally get me back in control.

It didn't.

So when I'd binge, the thought of facing the scale--and my program counselor--was overwhelming. In a desperate panic, I started purging after my most "sinful" binges. It got worse. I eventually was throwing up several times a day.

I didn't have the foresight, at that time, to recognize that my compulsive eating in itself was an eating disorder. But I had seen enough Afterschool Specials to know that my purging was not normal behavior. I knew I needed to see a real counselor, but I didn't know where to begin to find one.

So I did what any good Catholic girl would do. I called my favorite priest. He met me at a community walking track on a freezing New Year's Eve day 2001, and we walked around for hours. I poured my heart out to him. He reassured me. And he gave me a business card for a psychologist he knew who specialized in eating disorders. He saved my life.

At first, I continued to struggle with both the binging and the purging. Eventually, the purging stopped, but I continued to eat.

And you know the rest of the story.

So why am I choosing to tell you this today?

The truth is that only a very small handful of people in my life know about this. The other truth is that I've been struggling again with the purging for the past several months--maybe a year.

When I started this blog, I promised to always be honest. And lately I've felt like a liar. I debated telling you this. I talked to a few people I really trust about whether or not I should write about it. In the end, I took their advice, and I went with my own instincts, too.

See, when I started this journey, telling the absolute truth, even if it wasn't pretty, was the one thing to which I was absolutely committed. It was what set me free in the first place. It released me from the shame and guilt I'd felt for years.

As you know, if you've been following me, I've been stuck for a while now. Maybe the reason is that I stopped being so truthful. Maybe I need to let go of this one last secret. Maybe that will once again set me free. And maybe just one of my readers is struggling with the same thing, and my confession can help him or her.

Rest assured that I'm in therapy. I'm working through this. I'm probably not going to address this topic again. Even as I write this, I'm shaking a little. The truth has a tendency to knock me over sometimes. But I know I need to do it.

My biggest priority right now is to get my head straight. To find control. I've made the decision not to do the triathlon this year. As much as I'd like a new challenge, my biggest challenge is already ahead of me.

Today, I'm starting fresh. With the truth.

Thank you for your constant support.

24 comments:

LT said...

You are one brave girl. I'm proud to call you friend. Here's to the "truth setting you free!" LYLAS :-)

Mir said...

I've never commented before, but I've been reading you for a while. This is huge. It's not about what you tell us but about how honest you can be with yourself, and it sounds like you're there, ready to face it all. So now there's nowhere to go but UP.

You're doing hard, good work. Be proud of you. You're awesome. :)

Dinah said...

Erika, you continue to amaze me with your bravery and general awesomeness. I know I haven't commented here in awhile, but please know that you still have my unwavering support. I hope that you find peace by releasing this burden & sharing it with us.

Also, I feel like I really have to say that I don't think that you and your blog are an inspiration to others because of all the work you've done on your weight loss journey. Yes, that work is amazing and impressive and I love cheering you on! But you and this blog are an inspiration because you show up here and you tell your story and tell us about yourself in such a way that really illustrates the work, commitment, struggles, and triumphs of attempting ANY major life change. You give us access to you in a way that makes us feel honored to know you--even those of us that only know you online.

Finally, I'm no psychologist but sometimes I wonder if you feel stuck on this project (and repeating past behaviors) because maybe you associate the food, eating & weight gain with your mom's death so much, that letting go of all those issues might feel too much like letting her go again. So maybe you're not stuck so much as... procrastinating? Please forgive me if my intuition is way off base here. But also, I would encourage you to think about all of the wonderful ways you honor your mother and keep her memory alive. You talk about how lovely she was, and the rest of us can see that loveliness shining through you, and always have, no matter what your weight. Trust me, I really don't think you're in danger of losing anything besides whatever extra lbs you might still want to let go of.

Anonymous said...

good for you erika.

I myself have become leary about how much of one's private life to share on the internet. But you do what's right for you. And as always I applaud your courage.

I became an alcoholic at age 18. and when I got sober I turned to food. My food addiction has been MUCH harder to conquer. So i feel your pain.

I was bulimic for years and now I still compulsively overeat. I have never had a weight problem so I think I can disguise mine I guess. It's a daily battle. I have to fight food. I want those cinnamon rolls, the WHOLE package. I want the whole box of thin mints. last friday i ate an entire box of Cheez-its. and was doubled over in pain. I hate food. I love food. It's a constant battle.

Keep fighting, Erika. Its all we can do. But know I fight right along with you. Addiction to anything is hard, but this food obsession with me has been hell.

I send you hugs, love, and solidarity, my sister. Lets get together soon.

Katie

Brant said...

Love this and love you.

Anonymous said...

You are brave and you are amazing.
Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Erika,

Your honesty is so refreshing and your courage is inspiring! I have been rooting for you through your whole journey, and will continue to be your champion!! You have got this girl:)

Anonymous said...

I've never commented before. I do too. Thanks for being brave.

Mary Anne said...

Don't give up. EVER. Thanks for sharing this and being honest. With you all the way. And don't forget that you are one of the funnest people I know.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you know how many people have struggled with this; it's not as abnormal as you think ...so don't beat yourself up too much. Admitting it and taking action are the hardest steps and you've done that. And you are beautiful, so there's no need to resort to abusive behaviors.

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing and beautiful woman. You helped me when I was younger and your encouragment over the years has been a saving grace. We are all here for you. Love you so much pretty lady!

Anonymous said...

You are an amazing and beautiful woman. You helped me when I was younger and your encouragment over the years has been a saving grace. We are all here for you. Love you so much pretty lady!

gretchen said...

Touching story brave friend. You are so inspiring!

Charlotte Marie said...

Proud of you. Love following the blog and am amazed at your courage. Would love to keep following your journey - so grateful for your honesty and believe this will be a turning point. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you thought you would be judged or that we would be dissapointed in you. Well, that isn't going to happen. We all want to help you on your journey, and hearing your struggles only allows us to share your burden in some small way. You are loved.
~Laura S.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for baring your soul in such a public format. It is difficult enough to fight our demons, much less to make the fight public.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You truly are one of the bravest people I know and I am so proud to call you a friend :)
xo EAV

Anonymous said...

Erika,
I am reading this with tears in my eyes. Your bravery both astounds and inspires me. I am on my own weight loss journey and I am struggling so hard right now. Thank you for your honesty. Know that you are not ever alone in this.

Mary Ellen

Anonymous said...

Good luck on your journey.
I will continue to follow and support you if I can.
You will be missed on the triathlon jouney, and know that it will begin again when you're ready.

Kellynn18 said...

Oh, Erika, I'm so sorry for your struggle. I'm very proud of you for admitting it and for getting help. I hope you're proud of yourself too. Good luck getting through this challenge. You have so many people who love you and who are rooting for you. Stay brave!

Anonymous said...

I know it took great courage to share this because I had to do the same thing many years ago. It is a hard thing to fight, but talking about it takes away some of the shame and the powerful hold that is has on a person. I am SO glad that you are getting help for it!
Many {{{hugs}}} and prayers for strength and courage and PEACE as you continue on the journey.
NEGU!!! (never ever give up)

Sharon

Jane Boney said...

We all have our secrets and you are brave to share yours. You are amazing,.onward and upward

Jane

Jane Boney said...

We all have our secrets and you are brave to admit yours. You are amazing! Onward and upward.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Erika
You are amazing. Remind yourself of all you have accomplished. Don't beat yourself up for hiccups. I'm excited for you to choose joy and to share the truth. You are an inspiration.
Great to see you this week.

Annie