Chrysalis Center is proud to participate in National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week again this year. Every year, the last week of February, NEDA strives to create awareness about all forms of eating disorders in an effort to promote healing, provide resources and education, and to help the general public become more aware of the spectrum of eating disorders so those suffering from the disease can find a path to full recovery.
This year’s theme is “Come As You Are”. NEDA wants all those who have or had an eating disorder to have a voice and share stories, so we are happy to provide a platform for people to do that. This week – we will share stories written by clients who want to help others. Just like eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, so will our stories. Do you have a story to share? Has your journey just begun? If you need help along the way, please contact our office and we’ll be happy to help you find your path to recovery.
MY ED STORY
Journey is often described as an act of traveling from one place to another. What you are about to read is my personal journey of overcoming my eating disorder. I remember the first time I sat down with a professional, I told them that I didn’t have an eating disorder but that sometimes I stress eat. That statement is so far from what I know now to be true. I was at a point in my life where binge eating had consumed my emotions; my every thought; and, controlled most of my decisions. What was I going to have at this meal? Would I have enough food to last me through the work day? I’m stressed, so I “need” to eat this to help me calm down. These never ending thoughts held me captive for so long, and I didn’t even realize it at that point in time. I had tried all the “diets” and exercise programs to help me become a healthier version of myself. All it led me to was more binge eating, more shame and guilt, and a lower sense of self worth.
When I started seeking help, I was numb emotionally, but open minded and motivated to change. Meeting with the registered dietitian completely changed my life, and I am so grateful for it. Lesson 1: add a grain to my meal. Lesson 2: add a vegetable or fruit to my meal. I thought, “alright, how hard can that be?” Slowly, but surely each lesson I learned created a foundation that is now my plan for living and eating mindfully each meal of the day. Upon each lesson, I was able to gain confidence and control with what I was eating.
When I started, I would think, “well I’m not giving up this or I’m not giving up that” and the dietitian would say, “I’m not asking you to, I just want to try this or this.” This mindset was life changing for me because it took away the “all or nothing” and “black or white” principles I had been living within my whole life. Over time, I was able to shift my mindset to become more forgiving when I ate something that didn’t make my body feel as good, feel less guilty about enjoying a brownie or cookie for a friend’s birthday, and live an overall healthier lifestyle in which my body felt good and enabled me to do more things physically.
I remember one morning recently eating a fast food breakfast biscuit while I was on the road. While I didn’t have any guilt or shame, I found that I missed the fruits and grains that were in my day-to-day routine and that I actually preferred these newfound foods that didn’t exist within my day-to-day prior to overcoming my eating disorder. Throughout my sessions, my dietitian also assisted me with figuring out that tomato based sauce was contributing to my IBS. So we tried switching me to white sauce pizza which made a huge impact on decreasing my IBS symptoms, and the amount I have to take my medication for these symptoms decreased significantly. I also found that this mindfulness and flexibility from within my food choices started flowing over into other areas of my life, so I began enjoying exercise, because I did it my way by taking classes that were my style rather than following what society told me I had to do or should be doing. It also led me to feel my emotions (both pleasant and unpleasant) when I had been masking them for so long by eating them away. The ability to actually feel, process, and manage my emotions more effectively allowed me to grow into and become my true self within my personal life.
I am now recovered from my eating disorder, but I am still involved with counseling and nutrition guidance so that I can maintain living my healthiest mind, body, and soul. The journey can be long, rocky, trying, confusing, and overwhelming, but what I can say is that when you stick with it and find your peace, it is so freeing. You gain a clarity that is beyond what you would ever imagine.