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My Story - Part 1

My greatest battle, the secret the lead me to isolation, and one of the most significant parts of who I am snuck into my life at the beginning of summer 2018. I was at the beach, soaking in the sun, bound and determined to stick to a diet for once in my life. No more of this “I’ll start eating healthy tomorrow” nonsense, I needed to get my body in check now if I wanted any of the guys at schools to notice me. I had mentally committed to “healthy living” (aka I had succumbed to diet culture) when I returned home from college that May. Unfortunately, my healthy eating streak hit a road bump while vacationing, and it was during that very trip I found myself desperately staring over the toilet for the first time in my life. I don’t remember exactly what switch flipped in my head to make it seem like a good idea, but it appeared to be a decent fix to my “overeating”. The guilt from my food intake, the shame of veering away from my diet was just too much to swallow that day. In my mind, this was just going to be a one-and-done occurrence, and then I’d get back on track. I remember that incident clear as day – the here goes nothing sensation and then an immediate sense of relief when I flushed the toilet. An exhausted yet reassured sigh hugged my body as the “excess” food (as I had viewed it) was out of my stomach. I had gotten to eat that ice cream and still be on track. I washed my face, rinsed my mouth, straightened myself up, and left the bathroom. What happened in there, stayed in there.

I had a minimal understanding of eating disorders at this point in life. Actually, I didn’t have the faintest idea of why or HOW someone could have an eating disorder. Through pre-professional ballet training and various family members, I had known a handful of women who had eating disorders or were at least presumed to, but I loved food way too much to ever comprehend the appeal to starving themselves or worse: pulling trig all the time. Eating disorders to me were something I could not wrap my head around, even if I witnessed others participating in behaviors. I just wanted to diet – nothing crazy, just adjust my diet and shred that pudge. Little did I know, my own dark spiral into disordered eating was right around the corner.

That summer, my goal was just to lose a few pounds, maybe 5-10. Just enough to get myself looking slender and confident enough to lounge by the pool in a bikini and wear crop tops with confidence. I had gotten to a point where I was disgusted by how my body looked and my confidence was at an all-time low. The other girls at school were out-doing me, no boys liked me, and I simply did not look hot. By mid-summer, my “dieting” and increased exercise had been working. I saw my stomach getting flatter, and felt my confidence rising. “This is working!” I would say to myself as I body checked in the mirror each morning. I let a strong hatred of my own body’s imperfections fuel my weight loss. I reminded myself that someday I would be able to eat bread and dessert again but for now I had to stick to this regime. The desperation to shrink myself made the sacrifice worth it.

Spin classes, low-carb recipes, skipped meals, and neighborhood walks, were all staples in my routine that summer. I was so incredibly proud of myself and in awe of the control I was able to have over my body and food. Feeling quite confident, I reached out to my ex that summer. We rekindled our connection and finally caught up after years of ignoring each other, being as cold as possible, and many tears on my part. This was an emotional situation for me - the boy who had wrecked my heart leaving me in deep self-hatred and misery was finally letting me back in. I so badly wanted to feel the spark between us again and was determined to undo his ill will towards me. Despite my attempts at making it work, I surprisingly felt nothing for him besides a wave of relief that he didn’t hate me. With my return to school approaching quickly, we decided to keep texting casually as friends for the time being.

I headed back to school with a new self-assurance that I could finally fit in with the other sorority girls. For the first time in my college career, I felt confident. I had it all under control, all planned out, my type A personality was serving me well. I was welcomed with compliments on how good I looked and walked with my head a bit higher. I felt noticed by the girls in my sorority for the first time since joining. Everything was just as I had hoped. That is, until I realized I was no longer the one in control.

A little voice had made itself at home in my head. I had eagerly welcomed it in as a motivator to lose weight. This visitor started as a mere whisper prompting me with ideas such as “skip breakfast today, you’re not hungry enough”, or “order the salad not the sandwich”. The voice and I became friends as it fought off hunger with me, reminded me of my goals, and improved my diet focus. However, as the weeks went on, that little voice had spread like wildfire through my brain, and slowly but surely my own rational thoughts were almost diminished. I couldn’t differentiate between the two controllers in my brain anymore, all I knew was that my sole purpose each day was to focus on what I ate, and when I overate, I needed to escape to the bathroom to purge no excuses. I began to recognize that I wasn’t myself anymore, and my relationships were suffering because of it.

I don’t blame my close friends for beginning to cut me out of their circle that fall. I had left for summer break a spunky, fun-loving, spontaneous girl who was always down for late night sweets, savory breakfasts, fun cocktails and baking. I had come back a rigid, try-hard, dieting girl desperate for perfection.

Breakfast became as small as possible: maybe ¼ bag of instant oatmeal (made with water) and some cinnamon and 4-5 blueberries. I was proud of myself for this and pat myself on the back for having the self-control to give up muffins, pastries, and savory breakfast foods. I would take tiny bites of the oatmeal, savoring the flavor and warmth. If I was feeling good, I would plop a big scoop into a tissue and flush it down the toilet to make it seem as though I had consumed it. My roommates would nod in approval when I returned to the kitchen with an empty bowl, and I would have the satisfaction of knowing I only took a few bites.

Lunch, which used to be an enjoyable social hour, became stressful. It was easiest to eat alone and nibble on my vegetables, but that wasn’t always possible. When I was joined by others, I had to seem normal, but normal was overeating, and normal led to binges. Luckily, I had strategically figured out my escape bathrooms. Dinner was a similar play-by-play. I memorized what times my roommates were all out of the apartment so I could purge in peace if need be. I tried to be as put-together as I could around others, but I knew my energy was dwindling and my morale was much lower than previous semesters. However, I just kept pretending like everything was fine and made small talk like a champ.

When I wasn’t faking it till I made it, I was often beating myself up if my regime was not as successful as I intended. Failure. You are a failure. Self-destruction ran through my blood. If I wasn’t able to purge as much as the voice in my head saw fit, then my progress was ruined. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to do it. It was my secret. It was a key ingredient in maintaining my slim and desirable figure. A failed purge caused intense panic to set in. This panic led me to reach for a laxative, take a shower, and make a vowel to myself that I’d eat the bare minimum the next day.

Soon enough I realized it was easiest to be alone for meals – no temptations and no pressure to eat more than my usual greens. The purging was getting exhausting, my throat almost always hurt, I was constantly drinking water to combat the dehydration, and my head mildly ached constantly. I was tired of fighting with forbidden foods, tired of losing to an inviting binge.

I created new rules to my game: same small breakfast (bonus points if I didn’t finish it), switched out almond milk lattes for black coffee, veggies for lunch and dinner, maybe a few pita chips if I had been good, a bit of protein to sustain me, and absolutely no snacks (unless I was feeling quite faint). I started eating foods I hated purely because they were “weight-loss” or “low-calorie”. The weird thing was they tasted good – ANYTHING tasted good.

Binge/purges became less common once I put myself on this rigid new diet, but when they did happen, they felt more out of control than ever. I scarfed down excessive amounts of food as quickly as possible – convinced that the faster I ate the less damage it did. I would scold myself for surrendering to the temptation of off-limit foods. My stomach would growl loudly during classes as I prayed no one would hear or notice. I didn’t speak to anyone about what was going on. My close friends made concerned comments about my weight loss, but acquaintances complemented me on how “fit” and skinny I was. I began stepping away from any involvement I previously held in organizations. My eating disorder was all-encompassing, becoming my best friend, religion, sport and hobby. Anytime that wasn’t spent calculating meals, in class, studying or sleeping I needed to be walking on the treadmill or staying productive to avoid my own evil hunger.

When I head home for winter break, I did my best to lay low. The last thing I wanted was anyone calling me out for losing too much weight or worse: making me eat more. Fortunately for me, my family seemed sidetracked. My brother was barely home between school, basketball tournaments and his booming social life. My dad had work, and my mom was caring for her mother who was residing in a nursing home. With a quiet house, I was able to micromanage my diet for the most part. When questioned by my mother, I bashfully explained that my high stress and concern for my grandmother was ruining my appetite.

Mommom, my mom’s mom, was tremendously involved in my childhood and young adult life. She typically would go on vacation with us, was extremely generous with each of her grandkids, babysat whenever our parents needed, invited us (the grandkids) over to her place for sleepovers, and spent countless hours playing, reading, cooking, and laughing with us. Mommom was a strong woman– a stubborn, witty, and independent feminist. She turned heads when she refused to state that she would “obey” her husband in their wedding vows and knew what she wanted and what she was capable of. Being a strong feminist myself, I truly appreciated and admired her strong will, and confidence to be bold as a female in her time. Aside from her sass, she was the most loving, caring and amazing grandmother anyone could have asked for, and I will always be her “fun girl”.

During that winter break, I went and sat with her in the nursing home every single day that I could. We sometimes sat in silence, sometimes chatted about family drama and sometimes she had something to bitch and moan about which left my mom and I in giggle fits. However, my favorite days were the ones where I got her talking about her own childhood and young adult life. It seemed her memory was best when she was reflecting on these times and I sat attentive to her stories, traditions, bits of wisdom, and fond memories.

She had significantly gone downhill since the summer, and we were all waiting with bated breath to see how long she could hold on. Her memory was faint, body frail, and morale was low. She had stopped eating for the most part – a few bites here and there (only with us begging her to do so). I envied her lack of appetite and then scolded myself for being so morbid.

The days progressively got worse. She stopped getting out of bed and dozed off every few minutes during my visits. I sat by the bed with the oxygen tanks as she rested – she was slipping away and so was I without realizing it. She passed away peacefully only days before Christmas, and for the first time I experienced a very difficult loss. I wish I had felt more present. I wish I could have properly mourned her without a constant focus on food and weight loss. I cried about it all: my own mental battle, the death of Mommom, the impact on my mom, the dread of going back to school, and the gloom and doom of where my life was headed.

Her funeral took place on a cold, grey day. My mom made a saddened comment regarding how thin I appeared in my black tights and dress. I liked how I looked – it meant progress, but instantly felt self-conscious and nervous of what others thought, and sure enough – my extended family greeted me with troubled glances. I tried to shrug it off - I needed to focus on a game plan for the buffet-style reception awaiting us after the ceremony. I remember my sister (an anorexic herself) harassing me to fill my plate and eyeing me as I ate. I felt like shattering my plate and storming off in tears as she nibbled on some leafy greens. Instead, I sat quietly pushing food around on my plate and taking a bite when I felt eyes on me.

It was during those solemn weeks that I acknowledged how bad I let things get. I vividly remember climbing out of the shower one evening, wrapping myself in a warm robe and sinking to the floor in tears. How could I have done this? How could I have become my sister? Everyone will hate me as much as her. No one can know. My bathroom floor has seen me at my worst. The cold tile flooring and draft from the window I usually keep cracked are soothing to my lonely soul. From sleepless nights feeling hopeless and hated in high school, to the utter shame and embarrassment I felt dropping out of college my freshmen year, to this hard realization that I was anorexic, bulimic, crazy person I didn’t know what in the world to do about it.

I was scared of my own mind, and its firm grip on me. I did some research on eating disorders, read about treatments, and saw photos of other girls who looked as thin as me. I felt suffocated by this disease, but yet I wondered if I really had it and if I was “bad enough”. One day, staggering in the loneliness of what I was going through, I texted the ex I had made amends with that previous summer. I asked if we could meet up and that I was struggling and needed to talk. For some reason he seemed like the only viable candidate for me to tell this secret to. He refused my request by saying he didn’t want anything to do with me again. Rejection. I was unwanted. I was unwanted no matter what size I could shrink my body to. I winced when I realized his hatred for me still burned. If only I could wither away quietly, and this would all be over.

The night before my return to school for second semester was an emotional nightmare - a clear memory for me. I sat in our cozy sunroom working on a puzzle. My dad was at my brother’s basketball game, and my mom was cleaning up after dinner. I knew I couldn’t speak or the lump in my throat would escape into uncontrollable tears. I wanted to stay strong and be brave, but my insides were screaming for help. When my mom came and joined me, tears began streaming down my face as I stuttered words about not wanting to go back to school. She comforted me and for the first time in a while I felt like I wasn’t alone. My true melancholy colors were expressed and not rejected, and I held my mom tight as she reassured me.

When I head back to school for that second semester, I started avoiding situations with food altogether. I threw food away and pretended as though I had eaten it. I lied, - A LOT. I spent countless hours researching “low-calorie foods” or “best foods for weight-loss” to improve my performance each day. I meticulously went through all of the campus food options, tracking nutritional values, handpicking which foods were OK for me to have. I drooled over food Instagram’s at night, admiring the cheesy pastas, chocolate cakes, and the dream of consuming butter or sugar without having to purge. Parties were my worst nightmare and almost always resulted in miserable binging at the snack table and slipping out unnoticed to relieve myself of my sin. These first weeks of January were when things took a sharper turn for the worst. Weight started flying off of me – faster than before.

I was good at restricting – I even felt powerful when I was able to eat as little as possible. But sometimes I just couldn’t resist any longer and allowed myself to binge on anything I could get my hands on. I longed for carbs, cookies, cake, ice cream, nut butters, and once I tasted one, I needed all of it. I rummaged through the cabinets, feeling my adrenaline pumping. The binge was delicious, even comforting, but as soon as it ended, panic set in. The most intense panic would shoot throughout my body thinking of the food I had allowed in. The dreadful, disgusting thing I had done and now must undo.

I don’t think I fully comprehended what was going on, I just kept going. I took progress pics in the mirror, and I enjoyed watching the number drop on the scale each week. I’ll admit I got a bit worried when I hit double digits but at that point, I was in too deep. I layered up in clothes to keep myself warm, and continuously told friends and family I was fine. When my jeans got too big, I just slipped them on overtop a pair of leggings. This killed two birds in one stone – kept me warm and made me look a bit healthier. I kept my parka on almost all the time – I was freezing without it. I shopped for anything I could find in an XXS, and at some point the line blurred between wanting to maintain a slender figure and wanting to shrink myself away to nothing.

I was constantly running. Running from food, from intimacy, from connection, and from myself. As long as I could stay distracted then I didn’t have to sit and face reality. I jam-packed my days from the moment I awoke to dinner. After dinner I retired for the evenings, exhausted and ready to lie in bed.

Not a soul knew about my true intentions to starve, my dark emotions, and therefore felt myself isolating a bit more each day. I kept busy to avoid social interaction or confrontation about what was going on. Tears spilled down my face at night, but I didn’t know why. I was finally skinny; I should be delighted. But had it gone too far? Why was I in such a dark place? I felt more alone than ever. Panic sunk in as I realized I saw no way out; I couldn’t even bear the thought of eating a piece of bread and not immediately feeling the unforgiving pressure to go be sick. Instead, I lay there and felt my stomach growl and hoped I wouldn’t faint when I stood up in the morning as I sometimes did. Sometimes, I would sneak 2 or 3 honey wheat pretzels if I couldn’t fall asleep due to my hunger, but even that felt sinful.

My heart broke into pieces as I felt loved ones slip away, turn their backs, and continue their lives without me. I listened from my covers at night, overhearing my roommates whisper about how they were giving up on me, annoyed with my antics, and didn’t want me there anymore. I saw over their shoulders when they were texting about. I had never felt more unwanted than in those moments, but my whole plan had been to make myself more desirable in a smaller body. It had all gone so horribly wrong. I remember telling my mom that it felt like I was living in my own bubble, with no way to break through and be with everyone else.

My 21st birthday was right around the corner – a day my college friends and I had dreamt of. More than anything I was so excited to feel more free, more adult. Plus, I would finally be able to drink without the fear that my parents would disown and murder me. However, holidays had become exhausting and the last people I wanted to spend the day with were my college “friends”. The decision was made that I would fly home for the weekend to enjoy with my family and a few friends from home. My 21st fell on a Saturday (every kids dream) and my hometown friends made plans for us to go out downtown that evening for drinks and I was actually quite excited – regardless of how fatiguing going out was and how cold the winter night was. That day, one person after another began to bail on the plans – until it was down to just one person and myself. I remember trying to comfort myself by thinking maybe they’re going to surprise me! I bet they will all show up! But alas, no one showed up – and of course, I took this as personally as anyone possibly could. No one wanted to celebrate with me. I did not matter to anyone anymore. I went home that night to a comforting binge on birthday cake and a strenuous purge before crying to sleep over how my 21st was ruined – by me. I was a liability, I wasn’t fun anymore, and I wallowed in this self-pity, self-hate.

As you can imagine, this was not sustainable from a physical or emotional standard. And yes, there was a breaking point. One day I eventually snapped, and I couldn’t control the tears anymore; they came when they wanted. I couldn’t hide in baggy clothes because my face had gotten too gaunt, I couldn’t eat with others because my meals had gotten too embarrassingly small. The bubbly, giggly girl everyone knew had disappeared, and a withdrawn, quiet, skeleton had replaced her. My parents knew I wasn’t ok anymore, and I wasn’t just depressed.

This breakdown led me to my first visit with a counselor. I sat in the waiting room shaking with nerves, unsure of how I would talk to this stranger about these insane thoughts I lived with. As I sat on the chair across from her words flowed from my mouth and tears streamed down my face, but I didn’t spill a word about my relationship with food. Instead, I sat there bawling my eyes out about my severe anxiety, “lack of appetite”, and how I had nothing to be sad about, so I didn’t know why I was there. She may have been bewildered; I know I would have been, but she sat there calmly handing me tissues and telling me I was not crazy (like I was claiming I was).

A week later, I requested another counselor, who sat there and worked me through multiple breathing exercises to relax me at night. Of course, breath can be a wonderful remedy to calm a racing mind but was not going to fix me. She then suggested a psychiatrist who I visited with a few days later. Finally – a woman I connected with, and a doctor who saw right through my “I’m just anxious” bullshit. She prescribed anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medication, and best of all: recommended me to an eating disorder specialist. I immediately felt relieved that I had a shot at getting help. She knew what was wrong with me and she didn’t seem to be judging me in the slightest.

From then on, each week I drove an hour each way to visit with my therapist at an eating disorder center. Her name was Brittany, and she was the first person I ever told all my secrets to. I cried about my inability to eat anything I wanted, the power of food’s unwavering hold of me, my intense fear of weight gain, and my lonely isolation. I even told her about my common visits to the restroom to discard food from my body. Mentally it felt good to tell someone these thoughts and listen to her feedback, but after I would drive back to campus, not much changed.

I knew I was too thin. I knew my bones were protruding – for goodness sake sitting on my bum in class was painful and my hip bones shot into the mattress at night. I even knew I was putting my body in serious danger, but I simply could not speak louder than the voice in my head. Weight gain was failure, and I sure as hell didn’t come this far to fail. I was comfortable in this pool of misery, my frail body had become my safeguard, I had conquered food’s power and could eat as little as I wanted. I never wanted to go back to feeling chubby or self-conscious about my love handles or fuller face.

I did want to feel better in the sense that I wanted to feel happy again. I longed to feel any emotion besides the loneliness and hopelessness the eating disorder filled me with each day. But, to feel better it was going to take a significant change in diet and a substantial increase to my intake and I couldn’t do that alone – I couldn’t do that there at school. I had no accountability on a day-to-day basis besides promising my mom on the phone I “ate more” when that really meant a few more bites of cauliflower and spinach.

My roommates attempted a bitchy intervention, called student life on me, messaged my mom daily telling her I was mean to them by not being bubbly enough, and even interfered with my counseling. I had never felt so violated, so many lines crossed, my privacy stripped. Fortunately, my mom and my therapist were on my side – they knew where I was at and were trying to meet me there.

I threw myself into a new project to get my mind away from food, frenemies, and constant depression. I applied to a summer study abroad program in Florence Italy, taking marketing courses and enjoying weekend trips to Rome and Venice. The application process kept me busy. I had deadlines to meet, advisors to speak with, and application essays to craft, but for the first time in months I felt excited. I envisioned myself eating pasta and sipping wine along cobblestone streets. I found solace in these daydreams and grasped onto this idea that Italy would heal me. My eating disorder would slip away and be left somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Running away to this foreign country, without a single soul who knew me, would make it all go away. A genuine smile spread across my face as I read my acceptance letter and I began looking at flights and clinging to this hope more than ever. However, a trip home just a week or two later brought me back to reality. My dad asked if we could have a chat that Saturday morning. He had tears in his eyes as he sat down beside me and began by telling me he loved me and didn’t want to have to do this. Italy was not going to happen – my mom and him could not let me go in the condition I was in. The magical trip that had kept me going for the past month was swept out from under me in seconds and I felt like an invalid. I understood their reasoning, I loved my parents, but I cried long and hard over this blow.

That same weekend I faced my sister for the first time since winter break. She looked at me in utter disgust, exclaiming that I must have been raped and there was something seriously wrong with me. Immediately I broke down – the one person I knew who actively participated in ED behaviors was looking at me like I was the scum of the land. She stood there telling my parents that I needed to be hospitalized – talking about me as if I couldn’t speak for myself. Emotional pain shot through my body as I sat there trying to gather myself. I hated her. In that moment I truly hated her, and I do not think I will ever fully forgive her for that evening.

At this point the semester’s end could not come soon enough. I had eaten more iceberg lettuce and spinach from the cafeteria than the rest of the student body combined. My living situation was a constant act of skating on thin ice. I avoided our apartment any chance I got and slipped in and out like a ghost. My roommates were done with me and had made it loud and clear. I had quit my campus jobs, dropped my sorority, lost my best friends, and stopped going out all in a matter of months. I wasn’t happy and I sure as hell wasn’t doing it for attention (although I’m sure some people thought that). Rather, I longed to vanish and slip through cracks without anyone noticing. I could not wait to get off campus and back home, but I was also terrified of my eating habits being exposed.

I had never been so relieved to make it to finals week. I didn’t even care how they went, I just needed to get the heck out of that place, away from those people, away from the cafeteria that haunted me, and away from the same treadmill I walked miles on each day.

Returning home that May, a year after my initial undertaking to diet, was a harsher adjustment than I anticipated. My mom set strict rules for my recovery: weekly weigh-ins, morning milkshakes, proctored meals, and no exercise. I realized how embarrassed I was of my frail body. I sensed people talking about me in the neighborhood. I made a commitment to myself that I would do better, and that I would not purge after uncomfortable meals. I had my parents and no one else, but I was grateful for them. They comforted me on the couch each evening as a fought off immense discomfort in eating more. I mourned over my failed social and collegiate life as I scrolled through social media. I was saddened by the concern my little brother had for me.

You need to hit triple digits again” my mom would remind me daily about my weight. I fought back, found compromises to her demands that we could agree on, and got used to my anxiety spiking around mealtimes. However, slowly but surely eating became more comfortable, I felt my depressed emotions softening, and my mother’s grip on my progress lightening. I felt safer at home under the watch and unconditional love of my parents. I gained weight quickly, much faster than I would have liked (or at least my eating disorder would have liked). But, I realized that gaining that weight made me look much better, and that the more I gained the more I was allowed to go out and do.

That June, we took our annual family beach trip – the same one that had introduced me to purging the year before. This year, the trip was a positive turning point for me. I pushed myself to enjoy the fresh Maryland crabs, delicious French fries, and casual beach lunches. I buried my head into “The F*ck It Diet” by Caroline Dooner, seeing that I was far from alone in this torturous battle with food and my body. Finally – content that helped me understand what my body was going through and how my feelings were valid.

By the end of the summer, I felt much more human. I laughed, went out with friends, and could enjoy a glass of wine again. I was allowed to go on walks and do yoga. I was at a weight where I felt skinny and confident, and felt certain I could easily maintain myself at this point. I had done it I thought. I was still a skinny legend, but I was able to fully function and eat meals again. This is what I had wanted all along! I was still under 120 lbs, but clothes looked superb on me, I rocked a bikini with poise, and I aligned with the perfect body (in my mind).

I felt emotionally stronger as well– I was amazed at how far I had come from the dark depths of winter, and I promoted eating disorder awareness on my social platforms. I was able to talk openly about some of my specific struggles and mentored a few girls I knew back home in their own feats with eating disorders. Family and friends applauded my work and progress. I felt as though I had dug my way out of a dark, lonely tunnel and had reached the light.

What a good feeling I thought – I could live again. I had this thing under control! I wasn’t restricting the way I had done the year before, I was kinder to my body, and I had more energy again. When I felt any weight adding onto my body, I re-adjusted for a few days. I was being healthy I told myself. I had all the tools I needed to succeed! Once again, I thought I had it all figured out – at least for a while this time.

.... to be continued in PART 2

This tattoo has continually inspired me: it is the NEDA symbol (National Eating Disorder Association) that has been beautifully turned into a dandelion. The text "you are beautiful" traces up the stem.

I could go on forever about the nitty-gritty of my eating disorder, specific moments of despair, enlightening rays of hope, and people who influenced my life at some of the most critical points. All of those details will have to wait, maybe someday I'll write a book. Today, I just wanted to share the baseline of my story. To some, it may be horrifying. To others, it may be relatable. If you are reading this and can resonate with anything I speak about, please reach out - I would to chat.


Below I share a few photos of my life during the time period discussed above. In many of them you see a smiling girl - hiding a great deal of sadness and shame underneath.

The beach trip where it all started - June 2018. Finally feeling a bit more confident about my body but was so incredibly determined to do whatever it took to shrink myself. Little did I know of the journey to come.

My sorority's bid day that fall (September 2018). Honestly, all I can really remember is binging on bid day candy and feeling miserable afterward. The self-isolation, loneliness, and intensity of my eating disorder really started around this time.

Formal - October 2019. I was so excited to be attending with this guy - however, the evening ended with me feeling rejected and disappointed that he didn't like me. I immediately related that to not being thin enough and not having a good enough body.

Christmas - 2018

A New Year Eve theme mixer with my sorority in January 2019. I ended up just going to hang out with everyone before and then heading home from exhaustion before the party started.

A birthday celebration with my roommates when I returned home after my real birthday in February. Nothing like I imagined for my 21st birthday. I was sad, tired, fearful of having to go out and eat dinner with them.

A weekend home with my family in March 2019.

April 2019 at the yoga studio I religiously attended that year! One of the things that kept me going! Kelle (middle) was an incredible yoga instructor and taught me SO SO much about the practice and the mind, body, soul connection. I love yoga to this day and credit that greatly to this studio and community.

Practicing headstands on the beach June 2019. I was SO excited to be mastering headstands.

Hanging out on the couch with my momma in the evening - not going to date this photo because it was a regular occurrence from March 2019 - present :)

Getting to ENJOY ice cream with my dad that summer! I put on a good amount of weight from June-August, getting myself back to a more stable point again.

A very casual mirror selfie I took before my very first date with Ryan (July 2019). I was SO nervous but loved this green floral sundress. I remember being so worried about my thin hair. Would he notice? Would he not like me because of it?

So many crazy memories! It almost haunts me a bit to look back on some of these. Many of them display very dark places for me. I will admit - I have not fully come to peace with this chapter of my life, but I know that enormous growth has come from it and everything does happen for a reason.

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