I went into college as an eager young girl, unsure of what I wanted or what was to become of me now that I was away from home and friends. I struggled a good bit. I broke up with my boyfriend of 8 months because I felt the need to experience college and figure out what it was I wanted. I dabbled in dating just before I started things back up with Connor, a high school romance and the first and only boy I have ever really loved. Connor brought me happiness, and I felt okay with school, so overall I was content. But I missed home. I felt like the people in college weren't genuine like my friends in Memphis.
Running at the SEC level was challenging and thrilling. I enjoyed it, but I had never before been criticized for my weight or size. That year I heard it all too often from my coach at the time. I was also praised by football players and others for being 'thick'. I liked the attention, but I hated the connotation.
I went home for summer to develop an eating disorder. Of course it was not only the comments that sparked this, but they did contribute a bit. Mostly, though, it was because that summer my mother relapsed after over 2 years of sobriety, the longest sobriety date she had had since she left when I was 7. Her boyfriend called me over the day she relapsed to try to talk some sense into her. I went over to her house only to have her blame me for her drinking. She claimed that I had never really loved her nor had I ever been a good daughter.
I took her purse and keys from her so that she wouldn't run off and buy her precious cocaine, and she retaliated by scratching, punching, kicking, screaming, doing anything she could to hurt me. And I have to say, the words left far deeper scars than anything else.
In the end, my mother somehow snuck away amidst all of the chaos, stealing my car and money.
I will never forget that day. It's a memory that has changed my world.
|A couple weeks before my mom's relapse. June 2010|
Eating and running. Those were the only two things I really cared about. I tried to care about Connor, but it's hard to love someone when you hate yourself so much.
I would go to sleep dreaming about food. Food Network was always on my tv. I romanticized the thought of eating, yet I had such difficulty putting anything to my lips. I avoided my friends and family. I avoided everyone, really. I just wanted to eat, sleep, run, and read. All alone. If you knew me before that summer or know me now, then you would be surprised to hear how introverted I became. I hated it, though. I am not an introverted person. I need people to make me happy, so I was really losing myself to this disorder.
(This is terribly painful to write...)
Connor, my friend Kenzie, and her mother approached me at the end of the summer. I remember it quite vividly. They told me they believed I had a problem. Obviously I was in denial. I did not want to be sick. I never thought I would have a problem with eating. I always loved food. Plus my best friend of 15 years had gone through the same battle, and it had broken my heart to watch her starve herself just a few years earlier.
So Kenzie's mom showed me papers she had printed out, describing symptoms of anorexia: constantly cold, preoccupied thoughts of food, hair loss, pale skin, isolated behavior.
I could no longer deny it.
|Fall 2010. Pretty gross.|
I was faster than ever because I had run so much over summer. I also associated my anorexia with my success in running, although this was a mistake.
I slowly gained weight my sophomore year, and as I did, my times improved. I began to see my efforts pay off. I was becoming more sociable; I gained back friends I had pushed away. And I started this blog as an effort to track my progress.
|Penn Relays with beautiful teammates. April 2011.|
I had much success track season of sophomore year. Spring 2011. I reached goal weight, surpassed it, and continued to get faster. I found happiness. I loved who I was becoming.
|SEC Championships. May 2011.|
I mostly binged on things that I didn't allow myself on a regular basis. Cookies, peanut butter, crackers, hummus, granola..
The binging was always followed by extreme exercise and restriction.
I remember in particular the consequences of this one binge. I ran 11 miles the morning after, but that wasn't enough. I took a nap after showering from my run, and then I went to the gym at school and stayed for over 4 hours. I biked for an hour, lifted weights, went to spin class, and ran on the treadmill. Not a moment was spent resting. I went home that night to eat an apple (only food for the day), do a workout video, and go to bed.
I hated myself for letting my life spin out of control.
The fall of junior year (2011)was spent in much the same way except I think I got burnt out from the excessive exercise. I began to binge at night to deal with my daily insecurities and problems, but I did not make up for it with exercise like I used to. I also tore my calf muscle around this time, and not running at all was very hard to deal with.
I was plagued with injury after injury this past spring semester (2012). I was just so tired of it all. I hated that I couldn't run, and I hated that I couldn't stop eating. Connor and I broke up, and that change threw me off a bit, too. Ultimately, though, my eating disorder has nothing to do with anyone but me, so Connor's leaving didn't affect it much.
|The end of spring semester 2012|
The thing is, I had an unrealistic idea of what my summer would be.
Half of me really just wanted to be sick again.
I thought, 'you can do this just for a couple months. Just run all of your mileage, eat <1000 calories a day, and you'll lose the weight and you'll be healthy and fit by fall'.
The other half of me couldn't let myself do this.
'I have been through far too much to go through all of that again', I thought.
Now I have almost caught you up. This summer has been a rollercoaster. But I have been more happy this summer than I have in a long, long time. Since high school I guess.
I have only been super depressed when I think of August 13, the date when I have to return to school.
You see, every time I tried to get back into running, my eating disorders lingered over me more than ever. I would be out on a run and I would think, 'you can't eat tomorrow. Maybe an apple and a yogurt. That's it.'
Or I would go the opposite way. Thinking that it is almost impossible to get back to my All-American status, I would eat my emotions. That part of my summer has been miserable.
So obviously I have had much to think about this summer in terms of my future running career and my recovery from ED.
I love running, I do. But I lost all the joy that comes along with it last summer.
I miss the way I once yearned to wake up in the mornings and lose myself on the pavement of city streets.
This is all to say that I have decided to quit competitive running. I love my team, and I really do love and respect my current coach, but I cannot sacrifice my health and happiness by continuing on in this vicious cycle. I have hated myself for this decision, but I am also quite proud of myself. It is the most difficult decision of my life thus far, and I think I made the right one.
I understand that most people will not understand, but I have had to learn to get over what other people think of me. In my gut I know that this is what I need. I am tired of being between extreme eating disorders.
The great news is that I have been eating so much healthier and I've been exercising every day since I decided to break from the pressures of staying on my team.
It's weird, but I love doing this for me. I am already losing some of the weight I gained this summer, and I don't even care how small I get. I do want to get back in shape, but most of all I just want to be healthy and happy.
It's going to be strange and different going back to school without having practice every day, without wearing my MSU Track & Field gear.. But I will make the most of it.
I am really excited to see what I become.