Friday, April 11, 2008

Christina's Struggle...

Yesterday I read a blog from a woman that discussed her hate over her obsession wither her scale. Then, today after English class I was talking with a student about her big research paper subject: Eating disorders. As we walked to our cars I went on and on about eating disorders... and got me thinking that I'd use my blog to talk about my challenges over the years with eating disorders and an obsession with my weight. This isn't a pity party or anything anyone should feel sorry for me over. It is something I did to myself... here is my story.

My eighth grade year was very hard for me. I had so many emotions, hormones, confusion, boys, etc. I lived with my father and stepmother. He worked so often, I rarely got to see him for more than a few minutes a day. Adolescence is a tricky time, especially for girls. Often, I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to about what I was going through. I thought maybe I was different than everyone else - they were normal. I only saw my mother every other weekend and our phone calls were limited between visitations. I had an amazing grandmother that was always there for me and two aunts that would have gladly helped me, but I didn't think I should talk to any of them about what was going on. I had always been the strong one in the family, always there for my mom and brothers - always taking care of their problems. So, through all of the confusion with my hormones and emotions, I felt I was had lost control of my life and that I couldn't burden anyone else with my own personal troubles. The one thing I could control was my weight.

In the eighth grade my weight was on average, 88-94 lbs. I would not let myself get over 94lbs. I dreamt of getting my weight down to 79lbs. Why 79? I don't know. It's the number that stuck in my head. And an eating disorder all starts from an obsession, so 79lbs was mine. I would skip meals at first or eat very little. I often just ate sugars like Sweet-tarts and Sprees because I knew they were quick digesting and gave me a little energy. By the end of 8th grade a teacher caught on that something was going on with me, they thought psychological, but never thought it was an eating disorder. I had gone through a lot in my life and dealt with things in my family that most people wouldn't have dreamt of or wished on their worst enemy. The school called my dad, but to be honest he only seemed concerned that the school called him and never addressed anything I was going through. So, the school asked me to start seeing a school counselor. She was a great listener. I continued to talk to her all through high school. I also met and exceeded my goal of 79lbs, and hit an all time low of 72lbs. That didn’t last too long, it wasn’t my natural weight and soon I was back up to the lower nineties.

By the time I was a sophomore in high school I knew about bulimia and started to purge. I wasn't a bing and purger... more of 'I won't eat much - just enough that nobody catches on... and then discretely go to the restroom afterwards and throw it up.' My stomach was a mess. If I didn't purge, my digestive system didn't know how to process food properly. So, I'd end up with diahrrea when I ate. Sometimes I would get so panicky over eating... like every bite I took I stressed over. My nerves would get so worked-up that I'd vomit without forcing myself to.

My senior year in high school I started to change. I was less focused on what I was or was not eating, and more on gym time. I ran regularly. I went to the gym twice a day (before and after school) most days that I wasn't working. I was obsessed with being thin, having a flat/muscular abs, and absolutely no jiggle... anywhere. That's a little hard for me... I'm well blessed w/ a 34C bust! They never went away through it all! Not sure how that works! But, okay - no complaints from me... doesn't every girl want to be skinny and big chested? ;-) Anyway, during this time I still monitored what I ate and limited myself to only what I needed. I assure you I was burning off all of the calories I ate while jogging miles upon miles on the treadmill. But, still I saw fat… something always jiggled. To me, I was never thin.

I left for the Air Force just over 2 weeks after High School graduation. I had been training for it - running a lot and eating healthier. I left for the Air Force weighing 95lbs. At the time, it was my highest weight. I had managed to put my eating disorders on a back burner and obsess over exceeding the male standards at boot camp. In the first week of basic training, the Air Force deemed me underweight! I had to gain 2 pounds during basic training or I would be kicked out at the end of the 6 weeks. They gave me special privileges like: getting to eat as much as I wanted. Nobody could make me leave the chow hall or deny me a piece of cake. It was a coveted privilege... but I didn't use it too often. I ate 3 square meals a day and Big Texas Cinnamon Rolls whenever we’d get a patio break. At the end of the 6 weeks when I was at my final weigh in... I had exceeded the 2 pounds... I gained 12 pounds and was 107 lbs. I left the weigh-in room in tears. I had never weighed so much in my life. At graduation, my family assured me that I looked better than ever. That would be the last time they'd see me that big until 2005 when I was pregnant. The next time they saw me was 12 weeks later, right after tech school ended and before I left for England. I was back down to a healthy 95lbs. I say healthy because I teetered between 95 and 98lbs. I wasn't going for 79, not even 89. I was okay at 95lbs. But, I knew if I went over 98 I would freak out.

Then, I met my very dear friend, Carolyn. I truly love her so much. But, we were not good for each other. Get 2 girls together that both struggle with eating disorders and have addictive personalities and you’ll end up with trouble and Jello diets! I clearly remember one day when we were on the phone. Just as casually as she said the sentence before, she said, “One sec. Tink, I need to throw-up…” Before she could finish the sentence she realized that there was a problem if she was comfortable enough to throw up while on the phone with me. That’s right, the we didn’t see any problem with her purging, but the problem was that we were too comfortable with it! I tried to be her friend when she admitted herself to an eating disorder clinic in D.C. But, truth be told, I was not the friend she needed during that time. I was stuck in my habits and she was trying to get help. I admitted this to her one day and apologized because I knew she needed to find a best friend that would be more supportive.

After I got out of the Air Force I had a lot going on. I travelled a lot to model and be with my boyfriend at the time. I was a full-time pre-med student that fall, until the big “separation anxiety” hit. So, as if I hadn’t already been skipping enough meals to maintain a figure fit for modeling, when I became so depressed I couldn’t get my butt off the couch, I ate little more than Fruit Rollups and meds. This only lasted until I found out I was pregnant.

Something clicked inside. I stopped living for myself and started living a healthy life to provide adequate nutrition to my baby. I gained 40 some pounds when I was pregnant. I was big… had kankles… and for the first time in my life, my thighs touched when I stood. It was new territory for me, but I felt more beautiful than ever! I even proudly sported a 2 piece swimsuit out at the lake less than a month before I had Calvin!

I quickly shed most of my baby weight. I was down to 114lbs within 2 weeks. I wasn’t eating much. I remember Aaron coming over with pizza for his daily visits with Calvin. He kept telling me that I HAD to eat. He was probably the only one that noticed that I wasn’t eating. One day he showed up and the first thing he said was, “Have you lost 10 pounds since yesterday?!?” He was serious. It was the best compliment anyone could have given me. At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong with eating nothing other than Hidden Valley Ranch potato chips and Coca Cola Zero. I was a new mom – a single mom at that. I didn’t have time to eat. When Calvin slept, I slept. When he was awake, I took care of him. I was not making time for myself. I didn’t purposely eat so little after I had Calvin. It’s not that I didn’t want to eat, I just wasn’t. I do believe that my subconscious, that apparently wants to starve itself, took over.

Calvin is 2 ½, now. I’m not down to my pre-prego weight of 95lbs. I am a solid 108lbs. I’m not proud of it. I do exercise from time to time. I go in spurts. Part of it is laziness. Part of it is because I’m married – and he married me looking like this! And the other part is because deep down I know that if I start obsessing over my weight again it could get out of control. I know I have an addictive personality and can be addicted to anything – and I did have a weight-loss addiction before. Eating disorders are a lot like alcoholism. It changes you for life. Every day is a battle and every meal is a choice I make. We don’t own a scale. We registered for them as wedding gifts. But, luckily we didn’t get one. There is a part of me, still stuck in the past with my habits, which longs for a scale so I can obsess over The Number. I find this inner self leading me to the scale aisles at stores. I am mesmerized by all of the new features on scales. But, I never buy one. I can’t. I cannot be the person I was before. I am trying to eat healthier. I would like to lose what’s left of my baby weight in my stomach. I will with time. I’m not going to stress over it.

One thing I do want to make mention of is that yes, I am fairly thin. I'm just a small person. If I don't eat a lot at one meal, don't make a big deal out of it. I'm a picky eater and also, I cannot eat a lot at one time. One thing small people absolutely hate is when people comment on the lack of food they ate. It makes the small person want to yell, "Leave me alone! You never blatantly pick on a big person for eating 3 plates full of food!" Also, coming from someone who has obsessed over what I have eaten for more than a decade, having someone point out what I ate or did not eat makes me self conscious and paranoid. If anything, it makes me so uneasy that I sometimes get sick over it.


Anyway, like I said at the beginning of this very long post is that I’m not expecting sympathy. It is just my story about something that has consumed me for more than a decade. It feels good to get it all out there. Somewhat therapeutic. Someday I'd like to write a memoir of what I've been through in life. I'm not sure if anyone would read it. But, it would be my story. The one where I wouldn't have to shield other's feelings - I could be honest about things that have happened... someday...


Amanda M said...

Thanks for sharing this story. You are very brave to put yourself out there like that. What a struggle this must have been. I could not imagine trying to overcome something like that. I am sure you still struggle with it everyday, but sounds like you handle it very well now. Thank goodness for your son and husband! I am sure they help alot!

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Christina! It's amazing how many young women go through eating disorders. I am so glad you survived it, & are able to tell others about it. Makes me love and appreciate you all the more!!!

Dawn said...

Such a well written, very strong post!
You're healthy, you look great, and you are setting a good example for your son of what you can overcome. Kudos to you! You know I love you!