I'm Mandy, a mother of a handsome handful of a toddler. I'm the wife to a relocated Jersey boy at heart for almost five years. I'm a "youngster" in "Corporate Legal America." I'm one-seventh of a dynamically loud and loving family. I'm a woman with newly-diagnosed hypothyroidism, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Metabolic Syndrome trying to find a course of treatment that works. I'm a twenty-something trying to find her way on a journey to discover faith, friends and fitness. Most importantly, I'm me. I'm just trying to figure out who that is exactly...

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Journey to Loving Myself...

This entry comes with a slight warning.  Some of the content is uncomfortable to read.

My journey with eating disorders started young.  I had undiagnosed anorexia when I was 7.  I wouldn’t eat breakfast due to scheduling, tell my teachers at lunch I was full from breakfast and tell my parents I was too full from lunch to eat dinner.  I was discovered when my parents found a sock drawer full of lunch money.  I did it because a boy in my class called me fat and jiggled my arms.  My parents took me to my doctor and the doctor said it was all in my head and I was fine.  Oh, and that I could maybe try a diet if I was feeling low.

I turned to bulimia Thanksgiving Day of 2006.  We took in my Godfather’s family as our own when he suddenly passed away a month after his wedding.  Unfortunately, this brought great stress to our family.  Instead of putting my unwanted two cents in, I kept shoving my face full of food until I made myself sick.  For some reason, controlling what went in and out of my body stopped the stress and made me feel in control of the situation.

For me, bulimia was more about stress relief than weight loss.   However I made myself think it was some kind of a diet.  If the calories did not have time to absorb, then they didn’t count, right?  When things got too rough at school, work, in my marriage or with friends, I had a built-in defense mechanism.  I was not even overeating – I was eating normal meals and throwing them up.  At the height of my bulimia, I was purging three times a day.  Work, school, home, malls, and even restaurants - I had no shame.  I learned how to throw up so quietly most people never even noticed.

I also became very good at hiding my red and raw knuckles (of which I still have scars) and blood shot and tear-filled eyes.  I would say that I thought of something sad or that I had a coughing or sneezing attack that sent me into tears.  I even continued for months after my husband caught me because the toilet didn’t flush properly.  It was only becoming pregnant with my son that made me stop.  I didn’t even stop for me, but for him.  He didn’t ask to be born, so I had to make sure from the very start I would take care of him – even when I did not want to take care of myself.  I don't know where I would be had I not become pregnant with Cristian.

After his birth, I started back up after I found out some troubling news in my marriage.  Not only had food become my enemy, but I had become my own enemy.  How could I expect this man to love me when I couldn’t even love myself?  It was then I realized I needed to seek help.  With the help of a therapist, I was able to realize that the bulimia needed to stop immediately for their sake.  And mine.

Honestly, I still think about purging once in awhile.  When things get too crazy or when I just had to have that last bite even though I knew it would make me uncomfortable.  The last time I purged was in November, due to familial stress, and I would like to keep it that way.  I was one of the lucky ones – as far as I know I have no lasting effects from all of the damage I was doing to my body.

In the program I started last week, I am learning that there is definitely a healthy way to lose weight.  You do not have to deprive yourself.  It’s as simple as making wise decisions, realizing that each day is a new day, and being active.  I did none of that when I was bulimic.
It’s easier said than done, I know.  Having lived both sides of the coin, embracing my curves and not having to hide in shame or run to the bathroom after every meal is much more appealing than the alternative.  Every action has an equal reaction.  Even if it doesn’t affect you, it will affect someone.  Bulimia may be a secret disease, but the effects are much more widespread.  I do not consider myself “cured.”  I consider myself recovering.  I will most likely be that way for the rest of my life.

Why am I writing this?  I don’t want pity.  I do not want to place blame on anyone except myself.  I simply am writing this in hopes that I can get one girl or woman to look in the mirror before they purge.  Look in the mirror and realize that it is not worth it.  You ARE beautiful.  DON’T do it.  God made each and every one of us the way we were meant to be.  Getting healthy is one thing, but mutilating our bodies for stress relief or weight loss is completely different.  If we cannot love ourselves, how can we expect to love others or have others love us?  More so, what fundamentals are we going to teach our children if we tell them one thing and do the complete opposite?

I may have body parts that jiggle.  I may need to wax hair from my face.  I may need foundation to cover a pimple.  My feet are wide and big.  I am me, though.  Every day I love that person a little more.  If anything can come from a negative situation, my bulimia has taught me that I am worth loving – as long as I love myself.