NEDA Week

It is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, actually it’s the end of NEDA week, and I’ve been struggling with whether I wanted to post about this on this site. Well, I did want to post this, but I was scared to post this, simply because I feel like I am really good at putting on a mask that says “I’m fine… I don’t need any help… I can do everything on my own.” But here goes…

I have struggled with an eating disorder for several years now. If you want my official diagnosis, it is: Anorexia Nervosa – restricting sub-type with Compensatory Exercise Compulsion and Perfectionism.

Yes, it’s a mouthful.

Note the exercise part, when this developed I did not run. I repeat… I DID NOT run at the peak of my disorder. In fact, discovering running helped me to start making changes toward becoming healthier. But I was doing that work on my own and I now recognize that professional help is needed to fully come back from an eating disorder.

So even when I had convinced myself that I was “fine”, I was still underweight (although not as severely as at my lowest point) and I had never addressed the underlying issues that caused the disorder to manifest.  I was eating more, but it was barely enough to sustain me.  The thought of fueling during a run terrified me and a long run can be exceptionally exhausting when you are covering a lot of miles while thinking “How many calories am I burning right now and if I eat this Sport Bean how many calories are in it and will I still end up being in the negative for the day even if I take a swallow of sport drink and what exactly is the minimum calorie consumption I have to do during a training run based on my weight…

Then last year, around the time of my DNF, things just seemed to come crashing down. I had built a foundation that was not very stable and that foundation crumbled. Thus at that time, I sought REAL help for my ED. (I owe Alissa a huge debt of gratitude for her help… she helped me find my treatment team, she talked to my mom about recovery and ED, supported me during this time… she’s wonderful.)

I spent 10 weeks after the Phoenix DNF in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).  It was hard to maintain my full-time job and then head straight to the program for about 30 hours each week, but it was vital. I continued to see my treatment team for months after that, but I found that I was struggling again. Not to the extent of before, but it’s a hard battle to fight. So in addition to seeing my treatment team every other week, I am now part of an outpatient eating disorder group that meets for an hour one night each week. The support of other women who are fighting the same ED demon is monumental.  Our disorders manifest in different ways and we got to that point through different struggles, but it’s amazing how at the root of it all we have so much in common.

I’m trying to gain back more weight because I am not having a monthly cycle and haven’t had one for a long time. That’s the main reason why I am trying not to run anything longer than a 10K for the time being (something that I have not entirely succeeded at, since some days I head out to run and just feel the need to keep going). Basically I’m hoping that will be the final indicator that my body is physically ready to accept that I will take care of it. I will still have to keep working out the emotional issues that triggered the whole thing (they stem back to perfectionism, and isolation, and people pleasing) but I do envision a future of being recovered.

I’m really focusing on being more zen and trying to release my stress. I was stunned to realize that my unhappiness, frustration and anger over everything in life was manifesting itself physically. I need to learn to reach out to others more. My job is isolating and it’s not healthy to be by yourself all the time. And partly I’m explaining this here so that I can feel a little less isolated and reach out to all of you, my wonderful running/blogging community, for a little extra support.

I thank all of you for your friendship, I feel like I have made some wonderful friends through this site and, if I haven’t met you in person yet, I look forward to the time that I get to meet each of you.

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30 comments

  1. Wow…a wonderful, brave post. I am proud of you for taking care of yourself and being honest about it. What a great little “community” we have here when we can bare our souls safely to strangers we call friends.

    I am glad you are reaching out and getting out of isolation. If you ever need to talk, you have my number. Anytime.

  2. I honestly had no idea you were dealing with all of that, Jill. I knew you stuck closely to your schedule, and ran exactly what you were supposed to do, but I didn’t realize the food part of it was also going on (and by that, I mean the emotional part.)

    All I can say is thank you for talking about it so honestly, and that you have very likely done a very good deed today. I’m sure someone else out there will read your post and because of it, realize that they also need help, and therefore seek it out. I’m very glad Alissa was able to help you so much.

    And, like Lisa, I’d be glad to give you my number.

  3. I think the fact that you sought treatment—and are still seeking treatment and support, and talking about it on your blog— are all excellent signs. I firmly believe that you are going to be healthy one day, and that you’ll be ble to express your anger, resentment and isolation in other ways that won’t harm your body!

    I’m so glad I got to meet you while we lived in CA. I’m only sorry we didn’t get to see you guys more than once! Someday, someday. 🙂 You know you can call me anytime you need to, or email!

  4. This was so brave. I didn’t know you were struggling with this. I will certainly be praying for you. What a tough battle to fight, but it seems like you have a great support system–and now you can add me to that list. I will be encouraging you every single step of the way!!

  5. Publically, I want to tell you that I think this took guts Jill; a lot of friggen guts and you are a brave and amazing person. I consider you a good blog friend and one of the things I love most about you is your honesty. I look even more forward to meeting you now that I know how far you have come. And by the way…you are never alone 🙂

    Privately, I will email you to further gush about how wonderful I think you are!

  6. Jill, I admire your extreme courage to write this honest and inspiring post. I have been struggling with the same desire to post something about NEDA week, but terrified to do so…As this post shows, You are a strong and brave woman, and you can beat this!

  7. I am so glad you shared more specifically about this, Jill. I know that you are listening to your body better now and I’ve seen your restraint in not running as hard or as much. That is progress! Keep listening. I believe in you!

  8. I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you, and the incredible strength that you’ve shown through all of this. I hope you know that I’m trying to be there for you, even if I do or say the wrong things sometimes. I love you and appreciate all of your love and support to me, too.

  9. Jill, I feel so absolutely blind to not have known what’s going on with you. You’ve been talking for weeks about feeling in the fog and the brain-drain thing, and now I say to myself “DUH!”. You’re so very, very brave to write this and put it up here for all to see. I firmly believe that you WILL be healthy, and you’re on the road to recovery. I love you, my dear, and believe in YOU. I think it’s so important for us to talk about the secrets we hold tight. They don’t mean we’re weak; they just mean we’re human.

  10. oh jill! i had no idea! very brave of you to post this. i know i haven’t been brave enough yet to post my own ‘big reveal’, so i have an idea of how tough it is. i never would have guessed you were struggling, and i feel bad for that. i’m glad you’ve found help and a support team – and know that we are all here for you too! you can always call, email, facebook, text, tweet me if you want 🙂

  11. I am so proud of you! I know what you’ve been through, what a challenge you have faced. You are getting better, so much better.

  12. I’m proud of you for posting this, and in some ways it’s a major step toward recovery. You know I’m here for you if you need someone to email with, etc. I have been in your shoes… it’s difficult but there are people here who totally understand.

  13. Thanks for telling your story, Jill. I know your comments and support have really helped me in my struggle and I want you to know that I am always here to help and support you as well. You are right, this is a long and difficult battle, but I think we both have the right tools in place to succeed. I wish you nothing but the best of luck 🙂

  14. Jill, I am almost crying right now because of the courage it took to write and publish this post. I sorta suspected that you might be fighting anorexia awhile back (my sister battled/is battling it and has most of her life. She is in pretty good shape right now, but every once in awhile, especially when she feels like her life is reeling out of her control, it seems to rear it’s ugly head). I am so glad that you sought and found help and am just in awe of you.

    Yeah for blog friends.

  15. Hey Jill! You did it! Congrats on finding the courage to share your story. Its sorta freeing isn’t it? Isolation is the perfect breeding ground for EDs – I’m so glad you were able to get it out there so we, your blogger friends can support you. I’m so proud of you for seeking treatment, and continuing to fight it everyday. You were ready for it when I suggested it last year. You get ALL the credit girl. Recovery is TOUGH WORK. I know its not easy. I really know. Call/email anytime if you need support.

  16. Writing and publishing this post shows your true courage and can only help break your isolation. I’m in awe of your strength to share this part of your life with us – and I know that the blog community (myself included!) wants to support you wholeheartedly! If I could send you a huge hug from this distance, I would!

    It sounds like you have a fantastic program to help with recovery. Even though there are good days and bad days, you’re making progress every step of the way, and enjoy life as you go 🙂

  17. You are incredibly brave to put it all out there like that! You are also brave to seek treatment and do what you need to do to get healthy. I applaud you!

  18. thank you for sharing your story with us!! you have come along way and are very brave to put it all out there, and i think that is so awesome.

  19. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story. I have a difficult post that I’ve been working on, and you have inspired me to keep working on it. We need to be open and honest with each other to get better, and I wish you all the best as you continue down your road to recovery. Run happy.

  20. Thank you to everyone who has sent me such positive and warm messages. This has been amazing and the love I’ve received has made publishing this even more therapeutic. Hugs to everyone!

  21. Jill, so glad you decided to share this with your blogging friends. Remember your Heaenly Father and your Whitaker family love you in your best of times as well as your worst of times. Press on and think about all the good things you have in life and can add to your life.
    Mama Stub

  22. It takes a lot of courage and inner strength to post such a difficult story and although I feel terrible for not being closer with you, I KNOW that you are strong enough to beat this and I’m proud of you for putting your heart on the line and sharing this with your friends and I’m grateful to those who saw that you needed help and were there for you. You are an amazing woman and I wish you all the best in this battle!

  23. […] I had convinced myself that I had “reversed” my eating disorder on my own.  I had convinced myself that I didn’t have that severe of a problem because I still had a monthly cycle.  But that cycle was purely due to the pills.  When that external influence was gone, my body revealed just how sick it was.  A few short months after that is when I checked into treatment for my ED. […]

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