Going Back to Therapy for My Eating Disorder

At work there is nothing more frustrating to me than when I have to re-do something. That means sometimes I have problems delegating tasks to other people, and it definitely means if Microsoft Word crashes unexpectedly and I loose my content I am crabby the rest of the day… maybe even the rest of the week.

Right now I’m feeling frustrated because I have gone back to therapy for my eating disorder again. Sure, I feel relief, because hearing someone else say, “I think you need help” makes getting help a little easier, or at least it does in my case. However, I also feel a strong sense of frustration in that I’ve gone through therapy multiple times over the last couple of years and I have to go back yet again.

I take a lot of pride in having cultivated a good life. I have an amazing partner in Adam who is the smartest person I know,  I have a job that I think I’m really good at, I make enough money to afford not only the things I need but also most of the things I want, I have a body that allows me to run distances that most people will never even attempt to run… there’s really not a lot for me to complain about.

Most importantly, I believe I have achieved most of this by being a person who works hard. There’s no doubt that I got a boost in life from having a pretty privileged upbringing. My family isn’t mega rich, both of my parents worked when I was growing up, but I went to private school the majority of my life and I always knew I would go to college and grad school.

That being said, I worked a full time (paid) internship my junior and senior year of undergrad and I worked multiple jobs during grad school; I worked my full-time job as a marketing manager, I taught a section of Public Speaking to undergraduates and I freelanced to get additional work experience.

All of this has allowed me to get to a pretty comfortable place in life before the age of 30. I’m not saying any of this to brag, I’m telling you because through hard work I’ve almost always achieved the result I want – this is especially true when it comes to the big things.

The one thing I’ve yet to get a handle on, despite being a fairly smart person with a good work ethic, is my eating disorder. I’m a million percent better than I was a few years ago, but I’ve still got a ways to go. My behavior is still impacting the lives of people around me and I have to try to fix that.

A question that recently popped up into my mind is, “how do you know someone is struggling with a mental disorder?” You don’t.

It’s not like a physical disorder where a bruise, a broken bone or a cough will be an outside indicator. A mental disorder can manifest itself in ways that you can see – someone talking to themselves, cutting themselves, etc. but sometimes people suffering from mental disorders seem pretty normal.

I think I seem pretty normal. I bet most people have no idea that I’ve had an eating disorder or might still struggle with some of those demons. I’m fully functioning in my day-to-day life, I have goals and dreams (aka I’m not depressed) and I’m not obsessed with calories in/calories out.

I would say I’m recovered from all of the major negative attributes that make up an eating disorder.

Now I’m struggling with the big picture: I know I need to loose weight but I can’t do it.  I’m scared of “watching what I eat” because that was such a HUGE part of what made me sick. It’s something I so closely associate with the worst days in my life and I never want to go down that rabbit hole again.

Theoretically I know how to lose weight. In practice I can’t do it because I’m terrified that as soon as I start watching what I eat I’m going to get obsessed again. That fear has led me to just sit in this state of purgatory, but now I’ve received the push and the professional help I need to help me move on.

Many of the people who read here know my eating disorder history – starvation, bulimia and then binging without purging. This awful cycle led me from my lowest weight all the way up to my highest weight. When I first went through recovery I dropped a bit of weight just because I was no longer binging.  Since then I’ve basically maintained the same weight, give or take 10lbs here or there depending on how much running I’m doing.

At the beginning of my recovery, eating whatever I wanted was a good thing. It meant I wasn’t counting calories or wondering how I was going to get rid of them. By this point though, I should be beyond that and moved on to getting down to a healthy weight. That’s the struggle for me now, and it has been for a while.

I thought I could get over the hump myself. I’m used to relying on myself and through hard work getting the result I want, but that’s not working for me now.

This admission is really hard for me to share because I feel like I’ve failed myself. Adam has reminded me that there is no shame in asking for help, but you know what, the truth is that there is SO much shame associated with having had an eating disorder that makes asking for help feel like a shameful act.

Most of the time I would just like to pretend that I never had an eating disorder and I don’t even know what one is.

You know what is the top thing that has helped me feel less ashamed? Connecting with other people who have struggled with eating disorders too. I don’t know anyone in my real life who has been through what I’ve been through. That can make me feel alone, like I’m the only person in the world who can’t cope with the very basic act of eating well.

Through blogging I’ve connected with some really strong, amazing women who have also had an eating disorder. Seeing them come out of the other end of recovery happy and healthy makes me feel so much less alone in my journey. I hardly look down on them or see their struggles as failures, which means I shouldn’t count my own struggles as failures either.

I also feel a strong sense of obligation in writing about my recovery every so often because I hope that it will help someone else reading this. I’ve received several emails over time from women sharing their stories with me and those emails mean a lot to me. If sharing my story can help someone else feel less alone in their recovery, then it’s worth doing. I know that’s true because when other bloggers write about their recovery it does the same for me.

And finally, I think open discussion about mental disorders is important because they are so often trivialized.

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Eating disorders in particular are not very well understood by the public. Honestly, one of the main reasons that I don’t like talking about my disorder openly off the blog is because I feel like people will judge me.

When I say “eating disorder” I feel like 8 out of 10 people automatically think of anorexia. When it comes to eating disorders that lead to weight gain, the tendency of the general public is to think the person has no self control, is lazy or doesn’t care. It’s also impossible for most people to comprehend that one person can go from one end of the spectrum to the other like I have, and my story certainly isn’t unique. I’ve been both underweight and overweight, one time I was both all in the same year.

I’m writing this post today because I think it has the potential to impact someone else at some point in time. Maybe not today, but maybe someday. Maybe it encourages someone with an eating disorder to ask for help or maybe it encourages a friend or family member to broach a difficult subject with someone struggling.

Thanks for reading and thank you for your support over the years! I mean that in the most sincerest way.

PS: If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, I encourage you to reach out for help. I am always happy to answer emails about recovery, but I cannot talk about your daily struggles with you as that is not healthy for you or I. Apologies in advance <3.

18 comments

  1. Susan

    Hey friend. Thank you for your open and honest thoughts on your struggle. I know the frustration of going back to therapy but I truly believe in life there are lessons that we will work on for years. Never give up and remember progress is not linear. You are so strong and so brave. Your ED filled a purpose in your life so letting go and moving on will just take some time. But don’t ever give up.

    I suffered from (and still have to keep myself in check) with compulsive exercise. It started as a way to feel good and cope when my mom was very ill with cancer and quickly became my monster that controlled my life. I was miserable, sick, injured. I finally admitted to myself I had a problem. Then I admitted it to Rick. Then I was able to take the steps to start healing. I am so much better than where I was but I have had my share of set backs, and I still get some major anxiety when I can’t workout the way I want. I think for me it will always be something I have to honor and respect about myself and just make sure I work my program that keeps me healthy and on track.

    I am always here for you. As a friend and if you need any nutrition advice (I have my B.S. in human nutrition). I would say just keep talking about it. Even when you are tired of hearing yourself talk about it. The answers are inside you and soon you will see they start to emerge in the dialogue.

    Love + hugs to you!

  2. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    Thanks for sharing, Kristina, and for your honesty. I know it can’t be easy to put yourself out there about such a sensitive and personal subject. I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder myself, but I still find your courage and humility in the face of your eating disorder admirable and inspirational. Wishing you the best in your continued recovery. Thinking of you and sending hugs!
    Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor recently posted…8 Life Skills I Learned from KindergartnersMy Profile

  3. Sam

    You are already succeeding by sharing and opening dialogue about what you are going through, It’s frustrating to see mental v. physical therapy valued so differently when they both help with the whole person. You are a very strong woman and you will have success, get it girl.
    Sam recently posted…Life Changing Magic of Running in the MorningMy Profile

  4. Bethany

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I have finally decided it was time to talk to a doctor about my anxiety. After years of trying to fix myself, I have realized I may not have the tools to to that. But also that it’s ok that I don’t have those tools. I have a hard time asking for help, but after I struggled mentally more than I ever though during my first half marathon this weekend, I decided that I just needed to do it.
    For a long time I thought that no one had mental struggles and that I was the only one. But I am slowing learning that more people are silently struggling. You are strong and amazing!

  5. Jennifer @ The Final Forty

    You are so inspiring. Thanks so much for being so honest. I completely relate to that obsession and the way that watching every bite that goes into your mouth can consume your entire life. Getting a handle on my weight was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I still struggle with it daily…when I look at a picture and see myself as “fat,” when I compare myself to other women and secretly wish that I didn’t have these “huge” arms or thighs, or when I’m consumed by guilt for eating that second cookie. Breaking the habit of eating my feelings and devouring whatever is in the ‘fridge whenever I’m upset or hurt or angry is something I never thought I could do. I applaud you for getting the help you need. We’re all here for you!
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted…Goals for the New York City MarathonMy Profile

  6. Lizzy

    Kristina, I know we are “only” “blog friends”, but I am continually inspired and amazed by your strength and dedication to your job, your blog, your running, and your family. I can’t pretend that I understand fully what you are going through, but as someone who has struggled with life-long bouts of depression, I truly admire that you write openly about your struggles. You’re right, I think it is very helpful for others and it helps reduce the stigma, but yet it is very hard to do. I wish you all the best in this latest step towards recovery and I’m happy to hear that your partner has been so wonderfully supportive of you in making this decision.
    Lizzy recently posted…Training Tuesday – LA Marathon week 5 + Catalina trip!My Profile

  7. Karen

    My heart is hurting for you as I read this. I know that struggle. Overcoming what is in your mind is a very powerful thing. You have won many battles already, you can over come this. Oh and let me say, i think you are beautiful the way you are, I do understand though wanting to be at a certain weight or size. I had the panic when I gained about 25 lbs. back in 2010 and I have been working ever since to get it off. It has been a VERY slow, up and down process, and i already have started telling myself – I am 50, if I gain again, let it go and accept who you are…I do believe very much in “reprogramming” the negative thoughts with what you want the reality to be. I even try to plan ahead lol It did take years for me to break that cycle, you know i had bad purging problems, and while I let that go, the overeating and the urge to over exercise took longer. I now decide, do I need this , do I want this, if I feel any unhappiness while eating something I stop…I move away, and it became like second nature. You can track on an app, (may Lose it or My fitness pal) and not be over come.Just take it one day at a time. Tell yourself you know there will be set backs, but celebrate what you did right! Celebrate good choices each day. Lastly, listen for hunger signals, do not fear them. I was so afraid for years when I was younger to be hungry because I was afraid I would go crazy overboard, but slowly I mastered that joy. Food tastes amazing when you are hungry!
    I know you can do this!! Anyone determined enough to run a marathon is strong willed, you will win the battle, you just need a little more time.
    i am here if you need me
    Karen recently posted…I Need a VacationMy Profile

  8. Emily

    Wow, I know the struggles girl. It has been 7 years for me, and I have to remind myself every day that it’s okay not to be 100% recovered right away, and I’m thankful for the online blogging community that has really encouraged me to keep going, to take it one step at a time, and I am thankful for learning that my worth is in Jesus Christ not in anything else. <3 Don't give up. HUG.
    Emily recently posted…Why I’m Not Against ‘Junk Food’My Profile

  9. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    People who have not suffered from an eating disorder have a hard time understanding exactly what it is like. It doesn’t matter how smart or accomplished you are. It doesn’t matter if you KNOW what to do or what not to do. The eating disorder is bigger than all of that! I am saying this because I GET what you are talking about. I always wonder if anyone recovers 100% from an eating disorder? I would say for the most part I am recovered but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still had little rituals I do to make me still feel a little bit in control without having it take over my life… 95% of the time I feel recovered, and considering how I used to think about food 24/7, I would say if that’s the most I ever recover, I won the lottery! I can deal with it 5% of the time.

    I am glad you are seeking help and I am glad it is available to you!
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Anyone can run and feel good.My Profile

  10. Jenny

    It was really interesting that you mentioned that you are associating losing weight with getting back into your disordered behaviors, basically, you are afraid to lose weight because you think your reaction will be the same. I went through this, not with an eating disorder, but overtraining. Twice. The first time, I was climbing mountains and exercising so much while trying to lose some weight that I ended up developing an iron deficiency, which manifested itself in all sorts of unpleasant ways, including losing hair, dizziness, fatigue. Once I got on iron supplements, I took a total rest break for 2 months and found it was very difficult to get back into exercising because I didn’t want to slip back into that scary place. In my case, I held myself back while starting to exercise but did not completely stop, thereby avoiding the EXTREMES. Balance is a very strange game, but slowly slowly is the way to go when recovering from physical and mental disorders. Have patience and keep going!

  11. cheryl

    Sending you a hug, Kristina. I have never dealt with an eating disorder personally, but I do have to deal with my own struggles with anxiety and depression. I have found therapy TREMENDOUSLY helpful. I feel that the insight and clarity one can gain is so useful. I find I need a “refresher” (and that is how I look at it) every 2-3 years–I have close friends that I can share with, and I have found their support to be beneficial too–and they encourage me to talk about it. Personally, I feel that the more I try and struggle with it on my own, the worse it is, but when I share the anxieties/worries it is literally like a weight is lifted. I am so glad that you have Adam to support you, and that you are able to get help through therapy. I am sure that by opening a dialogue about struggles you are helping others! You are amazingly strong. Thanks for sharing!
    cheryl recently posted…Catch up!My Profile

  12. Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola

    It is very inspiring that you are #1 seeking help and #2 sharing your struggles. I’m sure many people can relate to what you wrote. And thank you for pointing out that eating disorders can come in many forms and that it’s not just about anorexia. Sending positive vibes your way <3
    Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola recently posted…Fitbook Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  13. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    Thank you for sharing this. I too often struggle with balancing watching what I eat and the temptation to go too far. Matt has a hard time understanding how monitoring my food can lead to such a slippery slope, but I have definitely realized that I used all my healthy eating willpower to stay gluten-free. That means that if I choose to monitor my eating in other ways, I end up going way off the deep end. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re not alone! And I’m so glad that you have decided to take the step to go back to therapy in a conscious effort to make progress and be healthy. I know it’s not easy to ask for help, and I totally understand that too! Which makes asking for help that much more amazing and makes you that much stronger for doing so.

    Having this kind of self-awareness is what will allow you to continue your recovery. Instead of denying that there might be a problem, you’re facing it head on. That takes a lot of guts, a lot of brains, and a lot of self understanding. Good for you. I’m here to support you in anyway you need.
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…Chattajack Recap: Matt’s Big RaceMy Profile

  14. Kerry

    This is a very powerful post. You’re really strong for putting it all out there, especially since people really don’t understand mental disorders. I have not dealt with an eating disorder, but my cousin has. Watching her go through it was really hard. She struggled asking for help, and I think if she had, she would be in a much better place right now. You’re really strong for doing that. From all of these comments, it looks like there is no judgement on anyone’s part. I just hope that you are able to have a fast recovery and that your family and friends support you as you go through this.
    Kerry recently posted…Weekend Update!My Profile

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  16. Jasmine

    Thank you for sharing Kristina. It’s a balancing act that still requires attention for me, and has been way off centre in the past. I try to spend at least the same amount of time on my mental wellbeing as on my physical health because they are so interlinked. You are doing a great job! Sending you good vibes from London

  17. Kristen @ Glitter and Dust

    It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and share your story. This is why I love you and your blog – always genuine and real. I struggled with a lot of disordered eating and thoughts surrounding food when I was in college, and still find myself struggling from time to time. Food has always been a central part of my family as my mom is a nutritionist and growing up I had a lot of restrictions and critiques about my food choices. Now that I have gone through pregnancy and watched my body change in a significant way, I am starting to have more compassion toward myself and my appearance. I will be keeping you in my thoughts as you re-enter therapy and work to overcome some of the issues you continue to deal with. You have a lot of people who support you! XO

  18. Jenn @ Running on Lentils

    You are such a strong woman. I admire your strength in both your training and sharing your personal journey to wellnes. How this post helps me is to make me aware that others may have personal demons they’re struggling with. A good friend of mine works for an organization that deals with mental illness, and she is very against people using the common word “crazy” even joking around. It never had occurred to me that that might offend someone, and I am still working on trying not to use that word. I know how frustrating it must me to not be able to just power through this like you usually do. Know that you have my non-judging support & positive thoughts as long as you need it.
    Jenn @ Running on Lentils recently posted…First Turkey Trot Training Run with Greyhound DjangoMy Profile

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