In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week...

I remember being in 4th or 5th grade when I started feeling self-conscious,

comparing myself to other girls. I became acutely aware of my imperfections, and

FAT

became the word that I would consistently use to describe myself.

10 years old. Calling myself "fat" and hating my body at 10 years old. I shudder.

I struggled with my self image all through my teens. But I was 16 years old when I first experimented with what would become my drug of choice on and off for 4 years. No, I didn't smoke, shoot or snort anything.

My drug was my Anorexia. 

From 16 to 17 the experimentations were small, skipping breakfast and lunch but making sure to eat when anyone was watching. I did know deep down how wrong it was, but it felt so good I didn't want anyone to force me to stop.

What most people don't understand about eating disorders is that it is not all about weight. Yes, it starts that way, but that's not why the addiction grows. I became addicted to the high that I got from resisting to eat.

I felt powerful. 

The teenage years are a time when most kids feel completely powerless. I know I did. There were family problems, death of loved ones, the stress of college applications, the stress of keeping up my grades, trying to make my parents proud, my first boyfriend, my first breakup, friendships that dissolved, jobs, and so on. While there was so much out of my control, food became what I could control.

By the end of my senior year and the summer before college I could go as many as 4 days on nothing but an apple, then eat a meal, and then go another 4 days. I did my best to avoid situations involving food, because if I did then I would have to eat in front of people. When I did have to eat, there would be days of remorse and self hatred to follow. Food became a reward/punishment system, rather than a nutrition system.

I got less than an A on a test or paper - I didn't get to eat.

I got an A - I got a food allowance.

I got in a fight with my mom - I didn't get to eat.

I endured my first breakup - I went days without food.

and so on...

Just like drugs, an eating disorder affects you physically, emotionally, and it affects those around you. When an eating disorder takes over your life, it makes you a liar. You lie about when you ate and what you ate.

It promises you all of your hopes and dreams, but it leaves you miserable and with nothing.

By the end of the summer, weeks before I was to leave for college, the weight of my pain and the lies became too great. I broke down and told my parents.

They were heartbroken, and so was I. There was talk of not sending me to college, but I was dead-set on going. I promised to change. We made an honesty pact about meals- I had to check in about food and be honest, even if I hadn't eaten I had to say that. Feeling "cured" I left for college.

The interesting thing that I learned, as all who have suffered an eating disorder can testify of, is that you are never cured. Just like an alcoholic is never not an alcoholic, I will always be recovering from my eating disorder.

Well, I started school with much gusto, healthy eating and started going to the gym with my aunt. Just a month into school, in the swing of classes and a budding relationship, my old habits creeped back up. The guilt, the hatred, the depression found place in my head again. This time my lack of nutrition was coupled with a workout schedule - NOT good.

I let this endure for months. Excusing my workout exhaustion with late nights, and not the fact that I hadn't eaten more than a few hundred calories in a few days. The night I forced myself to throw up dinner scared me enough to make an appointment with the Psychologist at my university, and confess to my parents that I had relapsed.

From here on out relapsed about every 3- 6 months, until the summer of 2009. That was my last BIG relapse. After a major life upset and deep soul-searching,

I discovered who I actually was for the first time in my life. 

Would you like to know what I discovered? 

I figured out that I am, actually, a pretty great person!

I discovered that my body is a gift from God and that I should treat it with love and respect. He had created me with love, and I was repaying him by destroying it.

I discovered that I was smart, that I knew better about how to take care of my health.

I discovered that I could help others by being open about my struggles.

I discovered that I didn't need a guy to make me happy or tell me who I should be.

I could live for myself and be who I wanted to be, not what a guy wanted me to be.

I found the love of my Savior. I discovered Him in a way that was undeniable and that filled me with Hope.

I discovered that I could be BRAVE!

For the first time since I was 16, I knew that I wanted to be better. This time I was committed to being honest and getting better. And for the first time since I was 16,

I was truly HAPPY!!!

Have I been perfect since that discovery? No. Because, as I have said, I have accepted that this is an addiction that will always haunt me. However, as the years go by my relapses are fewer and farther between, and mostly just a relapse of desire. There are even years where I go on like I have never struggled at all. Loss of control is what will get me every time, but I know that. And I acknowledge it. I am blessed with a loving husband and parents who support me and love me. I am open and honest when I struggle, and I always power through!

Life is beautiful! You are beautiful!

Don't doubt that. God loves you and he made you exactly as you are, because that is who you should be!

Love yourself, Love your God and life will be so much better!

I leave you with a poem that is dear to me about my struggle and discovery.

XO

Brittany

THIS IS NATIONAL EATING DISORDER AWARENESS WEEK 

http://nedawareness.org/about

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS STRUGGLING WITH AN EATING DISORDER, PLEASE GET HELP! AN ED CAN LEAD TO SEVERE HEALTH PROBLEMS AND CAN BE DEADLY. YOU CAN BE BRAVE! VISIT 

http://nedawareness.org/

TO GET HELP.