Eliminating Shame and Finding Recovery
A million thoughts race through my head as my fingers press the keys on the keyboard. I never thought I would make it to this place. I thought this place was for so many others but not for me. I tried to get here before just to mess up and fall right back down which led to such a deep feeling of shame. I remember telling myself so many times “why even bother”!
At the age of 9 years old I discovered purging. I didn’t know that’s what it was called and I had no idea what path it would lead me down. It was later in life that I would learn to restrict my food intake. No one knew the battle that I was facing as I put on the mask each day and smiled and let others think I was okay. When in reality I was in a very dark lonely place of counting calories, working out to the point of exhaustion and sometimes blacking out. I was finally able to share my struggle with a close friend at the time she was my youth pastor. She helped me through so much, she prayed with me and held me accountable. I got to a point where I had stopped purging but I just couldn’t stop restricting or excessive exercising. I would go a few weeks sometimes a few months but then I would slip into a lapse and the restricting would become unmanageable again. With every lapse I would become engulfed with more and more shame. I would begin to tell myself “why try”! For several years I would go to different therapist to talk about the trauma that had led up to the eating disorder. I read books on others who had recovered or were actively in recovery but they were just words on a page because I would never be able to obtain full recovery, those people had great support and they were “strong women” I was weak and had minimal support. I had minimal support because of my own shame and building walls up and not letting others in to help.
At the age of 23 I was working on my masters degree, had the next year planned out to include completing my masters degree in 2.5 years (which is just craziness it was a 64 credit hour program). By the age of 24, I would have my masters degree and be a therapist. And then... life happened, some events took place that I had no control over so to seek and gain control I quickly reverted back to the one thing I thought I controlled my food intake and exercise plan. I began purging again multiple times a day, even at work I would go on a “break” to rid myself of all I had ate or sometimes just the water I had drank that day I would then head to the wellness center and run for miles. I did this for months and then it came to a point where I was not functioning well at work and my anxiety was out of control. A serious of events then led me to California where I checked myself into treatment. It was there that I was diagnosed with stage 3 chronic kidney disease (borderline of stage 4) and I discovered that my heartbeat was irregular, low and I was extremely dehydrated.
I finished up my treatment but I was not in recovery. I had many slips along the way that would again result with feelings of shame and wanting to give up. I had countless people pray for me, from the very beginning when I first let out my secret yet I just couldn’t stop restricting and purging until last year, I had just graduated in May and I had already became a provisionally licensed therapist. One would think that life was perfect! I had a great apartment, great friends, amazing support, the best therapist I had ever had yet my past and trauma caught up to me and I relapsed. I relapsed hard, purging, exercising, laxative abuse, cutting, restricting, you name it I did it. I spent 8 days in the hospital receiving fluids from being so dehydrated. The hospital social workers and my therapist recommended treatment yet I had no insurance and no way to pay. I got out of the hospital just to purge and restrict some more. On June 22nd I remember walking into my bathroom to purge and came to as I was laying on my bathroom floor. What had happened? What was going on? It was evident that I had purged but why was I laying on the floor with a small bump on my head? I had experienced fainting episode after not eating before and sometimes after purging but never while purging. I went to the ER and they gave me the medical reasons as to why this happened. I knew that night that I could not keep doing this, purging, restricting, an excessive exercising was not living life. I continued going to therapy up until the end of July when my therapist left for maternity leave.
In the last year I have experienced a lot of change. Just to name a few of those changes: I moved from Nebraska to Arkansas to Missouri. I started a new job in my new career. I moved hours away from my support and I quit taking all anxiety medications. These are all things that in the past would have caused me to relapse yet this last year was different. I completely surrendered my control to God. I got to the point where I could no longer do this alone. Let me tell you I tried so many times to take the eating disorder to the alter yet life would hit me in the face and I would reach back and grab it all over again. I can’t tell you why or what really changed this time. I can’t tell you the prayer I prayed or what my friends said that helped. What I do know is that God is restoring me and healing me from the inside out.
There are two things that I do know: I do know that I stop letting the shame keep me down. I was completely honest to my friends when struggling, I would talk to them about what I was feeling and why I wanted to purge or restrict and many times I would recite “you are altogether beautiful there is no flaw in you” song of songs 4:7 or any other verse that would come to mind. I stop letting the fear and shame rule my life! The other thing that I know is that I learned to rely on God and not humans to love me, I learned to put my trust in Him and not those supporting me because they are human and would/will fail me.
Tomorrow June 23rd 2014 marks an incredible milestone for me. I really believed that I would never reach this place of recovery one full year and not one day in the last 365 days did I restrict or purge!
That place I was wrote about at the beginning of this blog I’ve reached that place and its called healing and recovery!
I am beyond excited to see where it is that Gods takes me next. I know that this is only the beginning and the best is yet to come! I also know that each day I have to renew my mind and choose Him and choose recovery!