Thursday, February 24, 2011

Light Through the Cloud

I've never been a follower.  I was never influenced by bad decisions or peer pressure. I have always been commended for the decisions I have made throughout my life.

Honor-roll student, varsity athlete, loving daughter, caring friend. 

So how come at this stage in my life, I am being challenged by the biggest struggle I could ever imagine?
I am challenged to live with a constant negative influence. Dictating my decisions, dictating my happiness.

I think about it every day, how come so many beautiful intelligent people, are faced with negativity towards themselves? I am one of those people. I have been struggling now for over 4 years. Here is my story…

I was never overweight. Sure, I went through the awkward puberty stage like every other girl out there. I put on a few pounds, simply just to fill out into the woman I was supposed to become.

I was a fantastic athlete. Soccer, track, volleyball…. I was in love with it all. My sports kept me in good shape, and able to eat a rather flexible diet.

I have always been a health conscious individual. I enjoyed staying fit, lean, and toned. I ate healthy and worked out regularly, but like most people, I loved junk food and relaxing too!

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I began to develop discomfort with myself. I played volleyball for the varsity team at my school. I was a competitive and serious athlete. With this competitiveness, I felt the need to excel. Just because I was one of the younger girls on the team, that was no reason for me to not get the playing time I deserved. I used this as motivation to get in better shape, get stronger, get faster… do everything in my power to be a star asset to the team. I developed an idea in my head, an idea that would help me achieve this goal. It was an innocent plan consisting of a small change in diet, and a little extra effort to work out.

It wasn’t long before this innocent plan turned into an obsession. It consumed my life; my thoughts, my concentration, my relationships… literally everything. My mindset went from planning what my weekend plans with my friends would be, to how much I needed to work out, or what my next meal was going to be.
At first it was easy to hide or disregard. I would get comments like “Wow, you look really good, have you been working out?” Anyone who has dealt with an eating disorder can probably justify that this just adds fuel to the fire. That was exactly what I wanted to hear, and it was the exact motivation to keep losing just a “few more” pounds.

The compliments turned to concern several months later. I don’t like to use numbers, but let’s just say I lost an extremely significant amount of weight in a very short time. Friends and family would approach me about it.  I was in denial, and there was nothing they could say to make me change my mind.

Spring time came around, and my parents said enough is enough. Since I was still an adolescent living in their home, they made me go to the doctor. That was the reality check I apparently needed. When a medical professional stares at you with concern, you know something is not right.

That was the beginning of the biggest struggle of my life. Recovering from an eating disorder is not an easy task. I’ve seen doctors, therapists, a dietitian, wellness coaches… I can honestly say I am still working day by day to overcome my struggles with food and myself. I follow the website Operation Beautiful and it gives me hope, knowing that I am not alone.

I am extremely thankful for the support of my family. Without them, I would be lost. If you are reading this, know that I listen to you. I hear you, I see your concern. I want to help myself just as much as you want to help me. I will win this battle… because I am strong, I am beautiful.