As many of you know, my youngest daughter has struggled over the past several years with many things. She was diagnosed with a rare disease called Ehler’s Danlos Disease and with it comes many other things to deal with. Not easy for a child of only 12 years old to deal with and it’s still not easy at almost 16. She’s also been the victim of bullying over the past few years for various reasons both by people her own age and adults. All these things have been really tough, for and for our family. But she’s thinking about taking a major step. Speaking publically about them to her youth group. Not an easy step, but she feels it will help her heal and hopefully help others. During our discussion about what she’d say today, she let me in on one more thing that’s been bugging her lately. Being teased about being tall and thin. She’s even been asked if she has an eating disorder. It’s really driving her nuts at times and she feels like it’s getting to the point of almost being bullied for being thin and healthy. So here began our discussion…
I think at this point, she’s not exactly being bullied about being so thin, and doesn’t think so either, but she’s getting really tired of being picked on about it and tired of a few people asking her if she has an eating disorder. It’s like enough already! I don’t think the ones who are talking to her about it are trying to be hurtful, I think they genuinely care and are worried or curious. But it lead to a very long conversation on the way home today and I opened up about something I’ve struggled with, that she and most people have never known about me, not even my mother, my other daughter or my husband. Just a very close friend and a blog post a long time ago.
During our conversation, she was venting frustration about people asking if she has an eating problem, which she does not. But due to issues with food allergies, stress, being tall, being health-conscious about food, etc. she is thin. She’s never been a hungry child, even when she was a baby. So no eating disorder here! But I did warn her not to let her preoccupation of eating healthy become an eating disorder and realize that there are better ways of dealing with stress. But as the conversation went on, I realized I was going to have to open up, especially when asked if I ever struggled with one.
At first I said, “No.” After all, I am at the present, overweight. So there’s no way that I could have an eating disorder or ever had one. But as we continued to talk, I opened up and told her that I don’t know if technically I could have been diagnosed with one, but I may have been close to one of a few occasions in my life. I told her that for the most part of my life, I’ve been pretty thin as have most of my family. But I remembered in high school when I was doing a little bit of modeling, and being so excited about it (It was at the local mall, but to me, I might as well had been on a cover of Vogue!) that I wanted to go to an open call for models. I knew there was probably no chance because I’m only 5’3” and then my dad told me I was too fat. Me! I only weighed about 110 if I was lucky! But it stuck with me. I thought maybe I was fat and at times really believed that I was fat. It was in the back of my mind then and for forever.
I never stopped eating. I never threw up. I never over ate. But I ate smaller amounts, just fries for lunch or just a salad. Of course in high school, you can get by on a lot less. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times that I pigged out like any normal teenager! Then I wound up having IBS and would get sick after eating, so I lost weight, which I loved! It kept my weight low. (Where is that problem now? I still have it, just not the awesome side effect of keeping my weight low. Just kidding! Because it can be a real pain to deal with!) My friends even asked me a couple of times if I had an eating disorder because they’d see me eat, then I’d run off to the bathroom, get sick from the IBS and come back white as a sheet. I told them no and that it was the IBS, which was true. But I did kinda like the side effect of not gaining weight. Then there was the time in high school, that I thought I was getting fat and starting exercising like crazy and I kept thinking, just a couple more pounds and then..Ouch! I sprained my ankle, so I stopped for a while.
But there were the times off and on throughout the years as an adult, where I’d start exercising and feeling great and lose the weight that I’d gain from being slack or being pregnant. I’d get to my ideal weight and want to go further and then came the questions, again. I didn’t look like a scarecrow, I thought I looked good and I felt great. But no matter how much I lost, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could do better. Just a little bit more. It’s like a dial that would start to turn and then click! Just five more pounds and I’ll look even better. Click! Just five more. Click! That was easy and I’m looking better and even better would be five more pounds! Click!
Fast forward to now. I’m overweight. More than I’ve ever been in my whole life. And as of today, I’m smacked with the reason why. Besides having babies and hitting 40 and a bad knee and leg injury,which I got because I was starting to exercise like crazy again. I’m afraid if I start exercising and dieting that I won’t stop. That I’ll get to my goal weight and then it’ll be just five more pounds. Click! Like I told my friend on the phone today, getting to my goal weight is amazing! But going further was like a high. Is that an eating disorder or just anxiety or just really excited? I don’t know. I love food. I love cooking. I LOVE eating. But I found myself a few days ago asking my daughter, “Am I that big?” when I saw this beautiful lady who just happened to be very overweight. She said, “Not even close and I’d tell you if you were because I want you healthy.” But the next thing out of my mouth was, “But I feel like I look that big some days.” Please know, just like I told my daughter, I’m not saying anything bad about that lady. I thought she was beautiful and I felt bad for her and it broke my heart that she carried so much weight and I actually prayed for her and that what ever was causing her to have gained so much weight that she be healed of it. But that is how some days I look at myself. Most days not, but some days.
So, our conversation went on today and I had to admit to her and myself, that I don’t know if you could say that I’ve had an eating disorder, but I’ve definitely struggled at times and it holds me back today. I still hear my dad’s words. I start exercising and I hear the click and then I stop exercising for fear that I won’t stop and that I’ll want to go on and keep hearing the clicks. I don’t want to pass this on. I’m hoping this brutal honesty with her will help her not to go down the path that I have, and maybe just maybe it’ll help me too.