A Girl And Her Ben And Jerry's

A Girl And Her Ben And Jerry's: A Love Story Turned Disastrous

My relationship with food and what it's taught me.

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These words are coming to you from a coffee shop where no, I did not order a chocolate croissant and type away with greasy fingers like I may have a year ago. They're also coming to you from the mind of a girl who got on the scale this morning, hated what she saw, thought of all of the holiday food she could've declined, and quickly opened her phone to Google, "Can I lose ten pounds in a week?"

That girl knows she sounds insane, but hey, there's a lot else on my mind -- going back to school in San Diego in a week, seeing all of my friends, and feeling like the holidays hit my health way harder than I wanted or intended them to.

But a year ago, this girl would have been looking forward to heading back to school, seeing her boyfriend and diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry's with him (our favorite), baking, going out to eat with friends, and living with very little regard for what I was putting in my body. Did I know what I was doing to myself? Deep down, yes, and I could feel it. But on the outside, I didn't act like I cared.

My journey to where I sit today is complicated and difficult, but it centers around something I've discovered about myself in the past year, and that is my incredibly difficult relationship with food.

Since being home for the holidays I've been trying to get out for runs when I can. On a few of these runs, I've let my mind wander and it's helped me trace where my relationship with food stemmed from. And once I placed it, it was astounding to me how it had impacted my life and my choices.

My parents have never been poor eaters. In fact, how they fed us and were role models for healthy eating is quite remarkable to me, looking back. Milk was a dinnertime staple, as was a vegetable every night. Fruit was always part of breakfast, as was a good fruit juice. Wheat bread was commonplace, and white bread was not a typical purchase. There was a candy cabinet we had, but it was kept high up and we couldn't reach it until we were tall enough. On top of that, I watched my parents make good changes to their health while I grew up. And now, they continue to strive to be healthy and active.

When I was a Junior in high school, I made a major change in my activity and began rowing competitively. It was at that point that food became such a reward system for me because the levels at which I was burning calories through long practices meant I could eat massive dinners after practice and continue to stay in shape and even lose weight. I didn't need to care about calories, because most of the time, I needed to consume more.

When I got to college, I continued to row. Recruited to be on the team, I worked hard to make times and standards. But crew became extremely difficult for my mental health, and looking back I know that I experienced bouts of depression through my first year of school. My anxiety was high, and being away from home didn't make it easier. Slowly, food became an ultimate comfort. With everything so different and challenging in my worldview, food remained constant. But that wasn't visible because I was training 20+ hours a week and packing on muscle, so any weight gain from meal plan food in excess seemed almost trivial. It was all muscle, right?

Fast-forward to my second year of rowing. I was feeling hopeless under the pressure to compete on my team and was plagued by anxiety. Going to practice wasn't a joy anymore, but I continued to train and eat like an athlete because the caloric deficit allowed me to. It all came to a tipping point, though, and I left the team.

The following year would prove very difficult. Issues in my personal life and the change that followed leaving student-athlete life did a number on me, and what I thought would be an escape from the athlete life was the opposite -- my anxiety was ramping up and my living situation fueled its fire, too.

Rowing was a life change in high school, it was a life change in college, and leaving that life was another change I wasn't ready for. But one thing that remained constant? Food.

Half a year after I left that team, I recall one night walking into my bedroom with a pint of ice cream (yes, just for me, and I'd probably finish it in less than an hour) all while rationalizing the poor eating habits that became an endless comfort during a hard sophomore year of college -- I'm young, I should live my best life and eat what I want while I can.

Getting on the scale didn't really help that rationalization.

Through several failed attempts, I recognized that I needed to get fit and lose some weight. But it wasn't until I saw my scale blink 2-0-0 that I became concerned. I tried apps, smoothies, all kinds of stuff and it wasn't working, because my food relationship was toxic and on my end, misunderstood.

Six months later, I'm happy to report that I made some changes. I lost the weight, feel like a new person, and now I know a lot about food. I found a diet that worked for me and truly, made me feel amazing and energized. But I'm still sitting in this coffee shop reflecting on what I saw on the scale this morning.

Mental health, life's obstacles, and my perspective on food came together to create a very toxic relationship with consumption that I still deal with. I have a major sweet tooth, often call myself a "bottomless pit" when it comes to eating a big meal, and generally just LOVE to eat. My mind centers around food when I'm eating next, and I can even tell you exactly the snacks I'll have on my road trip back to school this weekend. Fortunately, I've planned out healthy snacks!

I know that I'm not alone. I can imagine that so many struggles with the urge to have a sweet treat, the satisfaction that comes from an amazing meal, or the comfort that comes with good food if your day was difficult. And I want you to know that despite weight loss, my food relationship hasn't entirely changed for good. Not every day is easy, and I'm not perfect. But I'm growing in other areas -- self-control, balance, willpower, and knowing what is and isn't good for me. It's an ongoing battle, but one thing is for sure: I won't give up, and you can't either.

I took photos of myself along my journey, and one that haunts me is the day one photo. Looking back, I couldn't believe who that girl was and what she had allowed herself to become. Many old photos now have me thinking hard about the changes I've made and how thankful I am for them. And while it represents a lot of struggle, I also love that day one photo. Because it not only shows my progress but my bravery and decision to start and not give up. Whether you struggle with sweets, battle an eating disorder, need to make changes, or you've gotten to a healthy place, one thing will remain true: Giving up in the struggle to take care of yourself isn't an option. Keep going.

Food and I will always have a complex relationship, but I'm happy to say I've decided who wears the pants -- it's me, I'm in control, and I'm going to keep going. My health is priceless, and so is yours. Not every day is easy, but reflecting on obstacles overcome, I choose to keep trying.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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An Incurable Disease Doesn't Change The Love I Have For You

Because one day the one you love the most is fine and the next day they're not, it causes devastation you never truly recover from.

nadoty
nadoty
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Loving someone with an incurable disease is the most emotionally straining thing I have ever experienced.

My significant other and I have been together for almost six years. During the summer of 2018, we all noticed the significant changes he was going through. He had lost around fifty pounds and had a lack of appetite. We had figured something was going on, however, we didn't realize it was anything serious.

Fast forward to the Fall semester of 2018. I had visited my boyfriend and we had expressed certain concerns, such as, through the night I would try and get him to stop uncontrollably itching his legs to the point of bleeding, or that he was looking a little yellow and was exhausted all the time. After seeing his sister in November, while I was at school, she pleaded with him to go to urgent care because he did not look good. He was yellow, exhausted, and very sickly looking. We didn't realize that the urgent care visit would be the precedent of the rest of our lives.

After coming home for Thanksgiving and spending a week straight in the hospital with him, it finally set in that something was not right. Between all the vomit, getting moved for testing, the weakness, the constant calling for medications because the pain was so severe, and the almost month-long stay in the hospital, it hit me full force that something was really wrong. Words will never truly describe the emotions I was feeling, or the burden of my thoughts that I felt were too selfish to pass on anyone, so I kept them to myself.

When we finally got the diagnosis, we were surprised. PSC, otherwise known as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, is an incurable liver disease that affects the bile ducts which become scarred and inflamed, more likely than not lead to cirrhosis and an inevitable transplant. There was no cure, rather the only solution was a liver transplant, and even then the disease can be recurring.

I was thinking selfishly. I was torn in two. What would our future look like? Could we have children? Could we ever do the things we used to?

Loving someone with an incurable disease is a mix of emotions. There is a constant fear in the back of my mind that he is going to wake up in intense pain and have to be rushed to the hospital. There is a constant fear of every time waiting for the bi-weekly blood test results to come back, in fear that his Bilirubin spiked again or he is undergoing a flare up and needs to be hospitalized. There is a constant anxiety that one day he's going to be fine, and the next day he won't be. Even the simple things, such as laying beside one another, was a constant fear I had, due to the pain he was in every day. What if I hit him in my sleep on accident? What if I accidentally hugged a little too tightly and caused him pain?

Loving someone with an incurable disease can be a fluctuation of emotions, however, he makes it worth it.

nadoty
nadoty

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