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.