I never in a million years would have thought I’d be a runner. When I was in high school it was something I admired but didn’t think possible. I could barely run a block without giving up. It felt unfathomable to imagine finding love and peace in running. I wish back then I had read that quote “If you run, you’re a runner”. There are so many what if’s in life. What if I pushed harder, maybe things would have been different. What if I had started running sooner, would I have spent so many years in darkness.
Many people perceive that if you are suffering from an eating disorder you want to be thin and are willing to do whatever it takes. But really, it’s so much more.The sad reality is eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. I was asked recently how to describe the feeling. If you can imagine starting your day with an empty jar then as the day goes on you fill that jar with your feelings, but it’s not just your feelings and problems, you also take in everyone else’s. By the end of the day that jar is full, perhaps overflowing. All you can think about is emptying that jar. So you take that jar and you dump it in the toilet then flush it all down. Repeat the next day and the day after and so on.
The summer of my senior year in high school I lost my grandfather. It was a devastating loss. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion. At the time I had no real coping skills and turned to an eating disorder for comfort. It made me feel in control of my life but in reality it took control over me. I became more lost and alone. I was smiling on the outside and crying on the inside. After suffering for more than 5 years, I committed myself into the eating disorder inpatient clinic at HSC. I believe the only reason I was able to get better is because I truly wanted to live. I believed it was possible and I put in the work needed to start the road to recovery. But trust me it was not an easy time in my life. I’m forever grateful to all the staff, doctors’ nurses and aides that helped in my recovery. I’m also grateful to my amazing family and friends for loving me when I didn’t love myself and my oh so supportive better half, he was definitely my rock through it all.
After my recovery I began to workout…sometimes in an unhealthy way. I still walk that line. But I know I never want to go back, so I work hard every day to stay true to myself. Those days where very dark for me, living with so much sadness and feeling so alone. Life is a journey and sometimes you’re climbing the mountain and it’s tough but boy the view at the top is beautiful and worth every step it took to get there. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my story. Recovering from an ED isn’t easy; it’s a long and bumpy road. You’re never cured, instead it’s like you’re always in remission. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them and even pull strength from my experiences. I can tell you though that I finally found happiness in my life. I have found self love and have the confidence I never thought possible.
Once you have a ED you really have to relearn how to live. Unlike other addictions where you can try to abstain from your substance, with an ED it’s not so clear cut since your body needs food to live. You’re always living on that slippery slope with food. Coming back from it and having a distorted view on food is hard. You have to battle demons in your head daily. Am I eating too much, am I working out too much, I am hungry, did I eat enough today? All these questions can consume you. I left the hospital almost 10 years ago and I still struggle sometimes. But I believe I have found the best balance I can in the world we live in. Nobody’s perfect including me.
Things did start to change when I got pregnant with my first son. It was no longer my body. I became responsible for another human, his life depended on mine. I became someone’s role model a little persons mama. I knew I had to find balance, not only for me but for my boys. I began to run. I strive to live a healthy and balanced life. I want my kids to grow up knowing how to make healthy lifestyle choices, an advantage I wasn’t blessed with.
I truly believe running as changed my life. I have something that is just mine. It helps me escape bad days and it is there for me on my wicked awesome days. It doesn’t judge or critique me. It’s my freedom, my therapy.
Once I began to run more seriously, I began to run with other moms, chatting about everyday life. I found a community! The more I run the more alive I feel. Running became the best medicine I could have been prescribed!
What are you best coping mechanisms?
Do you run for fun or sanity?