I Battle With Bulimia, And I Won't Be Quiet About It Anymore

I Battle With Bulimia, And I Won't Be Quiet About It Anymore

It takes one voice. We are not alone.
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Low carbs. No dairy. Less sugar. No fat. Less fat. Eat three meals a day. Eat five meals a day. Skip dinner on the weekends, you’ll drink your calories anyway. Don’t eat the next day. It’s okay if you throw up, good for you for getting rid of those calories. Growing up as a female in this day and age, we are bombarded everyday with new and crazier ways to become thinner. The ultrathin society created by magazines and popular figures in the media have manufactured this unrealistic expectation for women to conform to. When do the ideas pass by the normal dieting phase and twist into a slippery slope of an eating disorder? For some, this expectation descends further past the surface and starts to define who they are to the core.

With the pressure of a growing ultrathin standard, it is no wonder that we are seeing a rise in eating disorders in young adults and college students. The prevalence of this mental illness is manifested from this standard and it is perpetuated due to the secretive nature of the disorder. I am a junior in college and actively battling an eating disorder of my own. Not many people see the struggles I face on a daily basis, which is why I have gained a better understanding of the magnitude of this glossed-over disorder. But this beginning to change, so here is my story. Here are all my nitty gritty details that are hidden and silenced due to the uncomfortable nature that is talking about mental illness.

Eating disorders do not appear overnight. The illness takes years to form, and for the most part just seem like some new dieting trick. Except the habits are far more than just a diet. Eating disorders come to control every single thought. Eating disorders will isolate you, weaken your immune system, and make you vulnerable to injuries, sicknesses, and yourself. Eating disorders are even secretive to you. I took an abnormal psychology class my sophomore year and learned about anorexia and bulimia. Even then I couldn’t recognize the signs when they were blatantly diagnosed in front of me.

My eating disorder, ED, became an abusive friend. Ed controlled every second of the day. Ed left me feeling dependent, trapped, and without options. Ed even led me to the darkest time of my life, the beginning of my junior year. After years of battling with Ed, he jeopardized my life more than ever by leading me to the day I planned to kill myself.

Ed and I had a familiar routine. Eat. Drink. Binge. Purge. Restrict. Then return to normal for a day or two. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, this cycle was my ritual. Until one Saturday night, I blacked out and the next day, purged to the point where my body physically could not move anymore. Familiar with this cycle, I prepared myself for a tough couple of days to follow in which self-hatred and disgust would settle in as Ed told me how unworthy I was.

When I woke the next morning, I looked at myself and saw Ed glaring back at me. Ed told me I was disgusting. Ed told me that I was not enough nor will I ever be. Ed told me I was a failure and had no right to exist.

Monday, September 12, 2016. This was the day I planned to kill myself.

Ed had tired me to the point where I only heard his nonstop judgmental voice in my head. I had no more will to live, no more will to fight him. The rest of the morning I was numb, only listening to the thoughts of Ed in my head telling me I wasn’t enough, and that I was too disgusting to live. Later that day at lunch, I sat down with my best friend. When she asked how I was, I looked up, thoughts swirling in my head as I would for the first time speak up about Ed and break the silence. I whispered, “I don’t want to be alive anymore.” After that, something inside me broke. The rest of the afternoon was a blur. My friend got me back to her dorm where I laid for hours sobbing repeating, “I don’t want to be alive anymore, I don’t want to be here anymore, please make the pain stop.”

I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a week. A week living under the constant surveillance of nurses and therapists. The craziest feeling of all was being there because I was a danger to myself. We are taught to be afraid of strangers or crossing the street without looking both ways when we are young, but I never thought my greatest fear would be the reflection looking back at me in the mirror.

After being discharged from the hospital, I vowed to never take another day for granted. But soon that feeling started to dull, and Ed crept back in. Ed told me if I didn’t want to end up where I once was, that I must listen to him. Ed would make me enough. Ed would make me happy. The months that followed were a downhill spiral of trying to keep my feet under me but moving too fast to be able to stop. These months of denying I was under Ed’s control ruined relationships with my family and friends. It ruined work relationships and made me lose any and all motivation for things I once enjoyed. I was having everything stripped away from me, but I only felt in control when listening to Ed.

One day Ed’s grasp was a little loose and I was able to speak up for the second time, breaking down about what was going on with Ed and me. With the help of a family friend, I found The Renfrew Center, an eating disorder clinic where I could start getting better full-time right then. But there was no way in hell Ed was letting me go. Ed started whispering in my ear again. He told me lies and insecurities in order to sway me from getting help. He told me I would lose all my friends. He told me I would be an outcast in the program because I didn’t really have an eating disorder. He told me not to bother getting help since nothing was wrong with me.

I struggled between what the right decision was and what Ed was saying in my head. Even as Ed turned every area of my life upside down, I still could not imagine getting the help I so desperately needed. It took the love of close friends to make me want to get better. I wanted to be a better sister, daughter, friend, and girlfriend. My family, friends, and boyfriend are the reason I went into recovery. When I didn’t think I was enough, I knew that I wanted to be more for them. So after finals, I started treatment.

On December 21st, 2016, I started treatment at Renfrew Center where I would stay for 8 weeks.

My first night at Renfrew was very intimidating. Although all the women and the therapist were friendly and supportive, I was still scared to speak. Ed held my tongue even when I was in the company of those who would become the people who understood me most in the next few weeks. Throughout my time at Renfrew, I started opening up in the group sessions and to the individual women in the program. The groups would become my greatest outlet to defend myself against Ed. Never had I felt so safe and supported. I could open up and explore the twisted path Ed and I had walked for many years and finally feel safe enough to step away from Ed. After connecting with the women in ways Ed never had let me before and opening up to the therapist, I became stronger and happier.

I have never been one to write down the words I wanted to say—mostly because I never thought they had any worth to offer others. But after this journey, I wanted my experience told. I write these words to show that it does get better. I do not know if I will ever be fully free from Ed, but I do know now that as my voice gets stronger, his gets weaker. It is a long and strenuous road to recovery, and it did not come without prices. I severed relationships with some of the closest people in my life, becoming a hollow shell of the person I had been. I scarred my family. I had my worst semester in academics in college. I nearly lost my job. I nearly lost my life. All of this because Ed’s grasp grew tighter each day.

Nevertheless, I have made it here, with a full life ahead of me. For the first time I’m thinking of a future. Thinking about all the experiences I can enjoy without Ed in my ear. I never will forget the women and the therapist I met along the way, nor will I forget the lessons and tools they gave me to fight against Ed.

It has taken me years to get where I am and open up about the relationship between me and Ed. Eating disorders, just like mental illness, are not fun to talk about. They are uncomfortable, secretive and tiring. But this silent stigma that mental illness has surrounding it must go.

It takes one voice to start and show we are not alone.

So here is my story and here is my voice. Maybe you’ll understand the next time you see someone like me staring down at their plate with a miserable expression or a rigid, timid gate as they walk past Wismer’s stations. Because what you see is more than just a girl trying to eat a meal. What you really see is a girl battling against her own Ed, not just to eat this meal, but fighting for her life.

Cover Image Credit: Jon Sandler

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65 Truths College Students Need to Hear Right Now

Truth every college student needs to hear.
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1. The best memories are ones you actually can remember.

2. God isn’t going to ask you if you were in a top-tier sorority or fraternity at the gates.

3. You failed a test, not your life.

4. Numbers don’t define you.

5. That includes the number you see that is your grade.

6. Also, how much you weigh.

7. As well as if you are a “7/10” on a so-called “hot scale.”

8. Or if you can bench press 200 lbs. (@ all the guys at the gym, please chill.)

SEE ALSO: 7 Reminders Every College Student Needs To Hear Before The Semester Ends

9. Innocence is nothing to be ashamed of.

10. Neither are mistakes.

11. But learn from your mistakes. Mistakes can be lessons, which can be the biggest blessing.

12. Your metabolism isn’t what it used to be and that is okay.

13. You may not always understand what God is doing, but I promise He has a plan.

14. Every person you meet is battling their own struggles.

15. Life isn’t always great moments.

16. But you have to walk through the forest to get to the mountain top.

17. Your heart isn’t damaged. It is temporarily broken but it will be fixed.

18. However, the only one who can fix a broken heart is the one who created it.

19. So a cute boy or hot girl can’t put the pieces back together.

20. Neither can ice cream.

21. But ice cream can totally help.

22. Stop texting your ex. He/She is your ex for a reason.

23. Loving Jesus means loving people.

24. Loving Jesus also means loving the image of Him in the mirror you see.

25. Stop hiding your emotions. Stop crying in the bathroom or behind a locked door. You have people in your life who care about you.

26. Suicide is never the answer.

27. Breathe in, breathe out.

28. Do you feel your heart pump? Do you feel the air exiting your body? That is a sign you are here for a purpose. Your life is no mistake.

29. Just because you doubt, doesn’t mean you don’t believe in Jesus.

30. However, when walking on the water scares you, look to Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.

31. If you have the opportunity to go to school go. There are young girls around the world who would do anything to sit at the desk you are complaining about.

32. Don’t pick a career based on money.

33. However, I promise you can use any passion or gift to serve a purpose bigger than yourself if you allow yourself to give it to the One who gave it to you.

34. You don’t need pretty prayers to please God.

35. Talk to Him like you are talking to a friend.

36. Look for the good in everyone.

37. That includes the mean girl who no one likes. Chances are she is mean for a reason. Someone was once mean to her. Kill her with kindness.

38. Pray to have the Lord’s eyes. See people with love.

39. Try to have the Lord’s hands, always be reaching out to others.

40. Each morning, pray to have the Lord’s feet and go where He calls you.

41. It is a bad day, not a bad life.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Be A College Student In April

42. You don’t need a six-pack to find a man who loves you.

43. You need a spouse who will be able to look at you when you are 80, and wrinkly and maybe a little chunky, and you need him to love you then. If he loves you for your body and your hair, I promise he doesn’t actually love you. Looks fade, but love is eternal. Find someone who loves you like Jesus.

44. Do some squats.

45. But squat so you feel good about yourself, not to attract the opposite sex.

46. You are never too old to find a new hobby.

47. You were beautiful before someone told you.

48. If you don’t know if you are in relationship or not, leave. You deserve clarity, not insecurity.

49. You deserve friendships that are mutual.

50. The best Friday nights are spent with a puppy and food. It is okay to not always be social.

51. Stop worrying about whether your crush will text you back.

52. Stop over analyzing everything in general.

53. Pray for your future spouse.

54. However, also pray for your future bridesmaids/groomsmen. Some of the most influential people you may have in your life you may not have even met yet.

55. Storms bring strength.

56. And storms bring rainbows if you are patient and observant.

57. Stop Pinteresting your dream life and start living it.

58. The Bible is actually extremely relatable. Open it up. Read it.

59. Romans 8:28 “and we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God is on your team. He wants you to have moments of celebration. He has a purpose for you greater than your bad day.

60. Never forget what Jesus did for you on that cross. When he died for you, it was painful and brutal. It was ugly. It was love. Don’t let that truth ever become numb to you no matter how many times you have heard the story.

61. There is nothing wrong with carbs.

62. Study. And don’t wait for the night before.

63. Find someone who you can look up to.

64. Also, never forget that there is always someone looking up to you. Act like someone you would want your future children to be. Act in a way that reflects wisdom.

65. Smile more, you are loved by the one who hung the stars and painted the sea. He created puppies and carbs–yet still loves you more. That is something to celebrate.

College is tough and life is hard. You are going to have moments where all you want to do is celebrate life with your best friends, but you will also have moments where you just want to lock the door, ignore everyone, and have a good cry. Never forget that your worth comes from something greater than your Biology grade, and from Someone greater that the one who broke your heart.

You aren’t too cool for Christ in college. Christ is a necessity for you in your life. He can hold your hand during your heartbreaks and failures and celebrate with you when you get the text back or a passing grade in foreign language. He loves for you and cares for you more than your sorority or fraternity ever will.

So buy your books, do your homework, but never forget when you are walking to you 8:00 a.m. you regretfully signed up for, to look up. Look at the clouds and the sky and thank your creator that in a big big world with many beautiful things, He still loves our messy hearts even more. So this one is for the boys for the King. This life is for the One who laid down His life.

I promise college is more fun when you dance with your Savior. Follow His lead and let him take you on a journey where you can find your purpose. You may not know where you are going, but you do know who you are following.

So never forget that although classes may be hard, and your metabolism may be slowing down–God is still good. He turns our ashes into beauty and our trials into our testimony. Do life with your creator and I promise you that you will have more than you need.

Romans 8:28 “And we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Check out my website for more articles on self-worth <3

Twitter: gracev96

Instagram: lemmebeyourvalentine

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This Thanksgiving, I'm Thankful For The Unthankful Things In My Life

Things may suck, but in the long run, it's made me who I am.

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching and people are listing off all that they are thankful for. It's the time of year where we think about all the good things in our lives and give thanks. The thing is, we often don't stop and think about the unthankful things in our lives.

This year, that's exactly what I am thankful for. The unthankful.

I'm okay with some of the bad things that have happened. It's made me who I am and has presented new opportunities for me. Sometimes, you just have to look on the bright side.

I am thankful for having had cancer.

The road to remission was long and hard, but in the end, it was all worth it. I met some incredible people and joined a support group. Something I would've never done had I not been diagnosed. It also led me to the job I have today, the job I love.

I'm thankful for my mental disorder.

Without it, I wouldn't have met my counselor who has helped me through so much in life. I wouldn't have a new perspective on life. Wouldn't appreciate the little accomplishments as I do. It may be hard to handle, but in the end, I know that it's OK.

It's so common to just be grateful for our accomplishments in life, for all of the positives. It's okay to be grateful for the bad times too. Failure is good, it helps us learn. Hard times help us grow. The bad gives us breakthroughs.

It's not an easy thing to do, but you have to try to find the good in the bad.

Recognizing and learning to appreciate the bad on some level, might make it easier to handle. Knowing that something good could come from it could help you take a step back and breathe. Nothing is permanent.

Try to see all of your unfortunate moments as a new opportunity. An opportunity to learn what you're capable. The hard times are valuable experiences. We are not defined by our scars, but they are a part of us.

There is a lot more to be thankful for in life than just the good times.

Everything we have gone through has brought us where we are today. To your job, your spouse, home and so much more. Life is messy and hard at times, but we only get one life. If you're hung up on the bad you're not living your life to the fullest.

I've learned to embrace the bad times. I'm so tired of them wearing me down. I don't want to worry about them. I want to see the good it's brought me. The person it's helped shape me into. I'm glad I went through tough times.

When you're thinking about what you're thankful for this holiday season, remember the bad times are good too.

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