I had an eating disorder + never knew it

If you met me in high school, you would have thought I was like “the perfect” girl. I don’t want this to come off cocky and arrogant because that it SO not who I was.

On paper though, I was “that” girl.

Super skinny, athletic, pretty (but I didn’t think so), not too tall but not too short, blue eyes, blonde hair, lived in the suburbs, parents still married, got a car at 16 (my dad’s commuter Nissan Altima — which I totaled BTW, it was fine though, she recovered), had a boyfriend, played soccer, blah blah blah…

But underneath all this mess, was a literal mess.

I had a mild case of anxiety but I had no idea that’s what it was. My thoughts raced 90 miles a minute, I thought about pretty much every word that came out of my mouth (and honestly still do, but I pray through that now…a lot), I would start compulsively shaking when my boyfriend and I would get in arguments, I was so nervous about meeting new people, if someone stared at my face for longer than 2.5 seconds I would immediately assume that they were judging something about my appearance, if I walked into a room and everyone stared at me I knew it was because I looked dumb or weird or whatever…it was crazy, okay.

Like stupid crazy. I was SO INSECURE. And honestly for pretty much no reason.

I was hyper aware of my appearance but not really because looking back on what I looked like then, I was basically a freaking barbie but thought I was a giant.

You see, my body is athletic. Meaning I have broader shoulders that don’t normally fit in “smaller” jackets that should fit my small framed body. I also played competitive soccer so my quads and calves were really muscular and larger than I was comfortable with. Something I vividly remember about being a teenager and an athlete was when I would sit on anything and my calves were laying flat on something, I always thought that they looked huge and flabby and fat. I never thought they looked muscular and attractive…because I was 16 and stupid. My husband (who was my high school boyfriend) always says I was crazy because my “soccer calves” were awesome.

In addition to those things, I have ridiculously huge hands and feet. And I’m honestly not exaggerating. I wear size 9.5 in shoes, I am 5’4″ btw, and my hands are as long as my husband’s hands just not as thick. I’ve pretty much always been able to grasp a football no problem. I’m super lanky, pretty sure my arm span is longer than my height, I have a super short torso and I always hated the way my stomach looked because it was short and didn’t ever look long and flat like all the “pretty girls”. The way us girls think, is so twisted. To go even further into my “body issues,” one of my ribs pops out a little more than the other side and it used to kill me because I thought it made me look “bigger”. I know some of you are hating me right now and I don’t blame you. Hate-on girlfriend.

But growing up, I had a much different body than my mom (which is funny because my body looks a little more like hers now) or some of my friends. My mom was skinnier than me, like wayyyyyyy skinner and I always was really insecure about that. I was not chubby in high school by any means, but she was skinnier than me and I couldn’t fit in a lot of her dresses or skirts or whatever and it bothered me. I had some “mommy issues” that I won’t get into right now, but it clearly affected in certain ways.

I always thought in terms of looks instead of what my body was capable of.

I didn’t ever focus on how easily my body adapted to pretty much all sports and movements, I could jump into anything and it would look like I had practiced it for years. Still can. My kinesthetic awareness has always been insane. Did I care about that then? Heck no. God knows why.

I had some issues with my mom growing up, as many girls do. Its funny because I actually had a much harder relationship with her as an adult than I did as a child/teenager, but in my perfect little life where nothing really major happened to me, caused a bit emotional stress in my life. I do want to say that I lost three grandparents in the span of about 5 years whom I was very close to during my teenage years though…so I definitely wasn’t spared in the grief department of life and I witnessed a lot of death and sadness due to cancer that runs in our family. Just wanted to give a PSA in case you thought my life was perfection. Just wait for some future posts when I get into my pregnancies…those will be fun for ya.

Getting back to my “body issues”… I was dumb. As most teenage girls are. Sorry, to my 17 year old sister, love ya.

When I say that I had an eating disorder and didn’t know it because eating disorders weren’t ever talked about. I don’t remember ever hearing about eating disorders in health class or anything. Honestly, I think I only  knew about them because of TV shows.

I started taking “diet” pills when I was 17. I think it was 17. May have been 16. I ordered them online using my mom’s credit card, which she never knew about because for some reason they didn’t check that card’s statement very often.

This was a thermogenic pill that burned fat.

I took it twice a day for weeks. Sometimes I’d stop and then start taking them again when I started feeling more insecure. I honestly don’t know if it did anything…I don’t remember. But what I do remember is what was more damaging then whatever the pill could physically do to me.

I would set reminders on my cell phone (flip phone, what what) that said “don’t eat” around the times where we would have “break” or lunch at school. These would usually be on days where I wanted to “look good” for my boyfriend, who is my husband now, or for a dance or some activity I would have been doing later that day…or to just get down to a certain weight.

I would talk to one of my girlfriends about not eating bread in the morning because it would expand our stomachs and make us look fat the rest of the day. YEAH

I actually did this on the day we have senior prom. I barely ate anything actually, so I could look as skinny as possible in my teeny tiny, VERY revealing prom dress that I had no business wearing. How my parents let me get that, is a mystery to me.

One day that same friend saw the reminder on my phone and said, “what the hell is that?”

I replied by playing it off somehow and saying it was because of this, or that…and she ended up believing me. You know how teenage girls believe other teenage girls and their weird and ungrounded mentality that makes zero sense? Well, she believed it.

Pretty sure my husband never knew I took those pills. I know one time he saw the alerts on my phone and that made him really upset and he didn’t believe my excuses for one minute. I told him i’d take them off and he made me go eat something in front of him.

But then I’d just starve myself as long as I could until I had to eat again in front of my family.

This is also around the time that I started drinking coffee, which helped me prolong the amount of time that I didn’t feel the need to eat, or just bare the hunger pangs.

I would do 100 sit ups, crunches, lunges, and fire hydrants every single night, in addition to my soccer practices and running x amount of miles a day aside from practice. Like I said, I was insane ya’ll. Luckily, I couldn’t bring myself to throw up or get to the point where I needed to be hospitalized or lost a truly scare amount of weight. But nonetheless, this was an eating disorder.

Its scary to me how close I was balancing on the line that I could have easily crossed and entered into a world of darkness that would have been very hard to get out of.

And the fact that I have four daughters makes that fear extremely vivid and familiar because I know how much pressure young girls are under. What is worse, is that we didn’t have social media like they will have in 10 years…or even like my sister has now. To say its extreme is a crazy understatement.

We don’t plan on allowing them to have social media though, for this exact reason. If you disagree with me on this, that’s fine. But if you try to argue with me about this, you’ll lose.

I have my Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and studied the crap out of the effects of media and children and women, as well as on our minds (specifically our memory) and it exposed a very very dark side of the world to me. We won’t be trying to “be mean” to our kids, rather we will be protecting them from mental illnesses that have existed for many years as well as mental illnesses that are new and arising every single day in children AND ADULTS because of social media. End my rant on social media now 🙂

I should have asked for help but I didn’t think it was a problem. Deep deep down, clearly I knew it was wrong because I was hiding it from everyone I knew, but in my head it was under control. I was a strong willed girl who “knew” I wouldn’t be one of those girls who lost control and would end up doing something even more careless.

Luckily, nothing worse happened. I didn’t become 90 pounds or get sent to the hospital (although I probably should have so a psychologist could have talked to me). But I wholeheartedly believe that this was God catching me when I was falling and he didn’t let me hit the ground, his safety net was there just in time. He had a plan for my life and hitting rock bottom at that time, just wasn’t part of it.

If you or someone you know struggles with ANY KIND of an eating disorder, get help. Go talk to your school counselor, cousin, mom, dad, sister, doctor…anyone. But whoever you talk to, make sure they won’t tell you that you’re crazy or its all in your head, or that “you’re fine.” If you think anything like the high school me did, you are not fine and you need to seek some outside help so they can give you perspective that you are currently unable to obtain.

Eating disorders are legit, they are a real thing, they can ruin lives, they can give you diseases, in fact they are a form of disease, and it can harm your body for many many years, if not the rest of your life.

There is a way out, there is light at the end of that tunnel and you will get help but you have to say something. Closed mouths don’t get fed and NO ONE IS A MIND READER. If you think you are sending warning signs to someone so they will ask you what’s wrong, chances are they are not noticing them and it is not because they don’t care about you, it is because they simply think you are not struggling with anything.

You are loved and known and wanted and everyone who loves and cares about you does not want this for you.

“The Lord your God is with you, and he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17