Questions by Angel
Answers by Randi
1. When did you first realize that you had an eating disorder?
A: After weeks of dieting and heavy exercise, had a bad dizzy spell while I was walking around campus at school in FL. It was around 2PM when I had the dizzy spell. Breakfast was 2 boiled egg whites, just the whites, no yolk. Lunch was a thin piece of deli turkey meat and a sliced up bell pepper. The energy from that was not enough to sustain me for the usual daily activities, much less a 2 hour work out thrown into or the mix. As I stumbled to my car, I had an eerie sense of satisfaction. I knew I the dizziness most likely meant more weight loss. My thoughts were conflicting, as one side of me was proud of the self control I thought I had over my food and exercise. The other part of me knew something was very wrong, and that side scared me. The more I ignored that voice, which I know was my conscience, the softer and quieter it became.
2. How old were you when you got sick?
A: 20 years old when it started.
3. What were the underlying issues that led to your eating disorder?
A: The year I developed my eating disorder, was the same year that my grandmother had passed away. I was very close with my grandmother, and took her passing very hard. She was the first person I have ever been close to to pass away.
Shortly after she went home to be with the Lord, I transferred schools, moving from North Carolina to Florida. School was not what I expected it to be, and I was not able to partake in the same studies that I had been able to at my previous school in North Carolina. As a musical theater student, I enjoyed being a part of several different shows at my college in North Carolina.
When I moved to my new school in Florida, my degree was slightly different, and I wasn’t able to participate in the majority of shows in their theater department.
One of my professors was also hitting on me, and I had never experienced something like that before. Being naïve and young, I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. While it made me uncomfortable, I just kept writing it off that he couldn’t possibly be doing something that was that inappropriate.
Between my creepy professor, and the lack of performance time that I wanted, I was losing my passion for theater and my grades began to slip.
My grades were not the only thing slacking. My whole life, I’ve been a social butterfly, and have never had trouble with making friends. This was the first time in my life, I couldn’t seem to connect with anyone.
In addition, to the rough time I was having at school, I began dating someone who was obsessive about diet and exercise. He was really into CrossFit, and encouraged fitness and health to the extreme.
In conclusion, I was lonely, sad, and had nowhere to channel my thoughts and attention. Eventually, all of my focus went to dieting and exercise as an new lifestyle choice.
4. How did you feel when you were at the peak of your disorder?
A: I reached the peak of my eating disorder when I hit 76 lbs. I remember stepping on the scale at my grandmother’s house, and the numbers shocked me. It was the first time that fear hit me. For the most part, I felt almost invincible while I was in my eating disorder. When I saw those numbers, I felt my throat tighten and a chill run down my spine. I couldn’t give up the obsession though, so I just pushed the thought out of my mind with an, “eh, I’m fine. Not that big of a deal.” After hitting that weight, and realizing just how small I was, the thought of gaining it back was far more terrifying than anything that could happen being the size I was.
That was the first peak, the second came after being in and out of treatment for three years. I had just been reprimanded by one of the staff at the residential treatment center I was living in. I became a much harder person, and more rebellious as time went on. I was given a write up for being caught exercising. As I stared down at the write up slip, I remember my mind wondering if this was it. The thought hit me, am I too far deep to get better at this point? Is this all the rest of my life has, treatment centers, hospitals, bathroom supervision, and living with strangers with all different kinds of issues? Almost felt like giving up.
5. How did you overcome your eating disorder?
A: I read my Bible every day and journaled a lot. Even if I didn’t understand everything that was happening with me, or how to get my life back, reading the word gave me the ounce of hope and mustard seed of faith I needed to keep pressing in. I ended up asking to go to a Bible study while in residential treatment. My therapist that I was seeing at the time knew that I read my Bible daily, so I figured it would be easy to convince her that going to a Bible study would be beneficial for me. My motive was, in actuality, just to get out of the house for a little bit. After being cooped up all week in a house, full of a bunch of girls, I was willing and ready to try anything to get a little weekly field trip away.
The Bible study she sent me to turned out to be AA! At first, I thought it was really funny that she had sent me to AA, especially since it was just like in the movies. The first person who stood up to share started with, “ hi, my name is ______, and I’m an alcoholic.” I continue to go to AA, because a trip away from the house was all I was after anyways. I did not realize, however, the impact that the stories shared would have on me. With the growth that I was experiencing from AA, I asked to go to NA also. That would give me yet another day out of the house, but also gave me the opportunity to hear even more testimonies of recovery from addiction of some sort. While I may not have struggled with drugs or alcohol, I was certainly battling an addiction of my own.
Finally, the greatest revelation I had to prompt me into recovery, was when I went to a local church with the residential treatment center I was at. On Sundays, we were given the option of going to a local church service if enough patience asked to go. This particular Sunday, we went to a big nondenominational church. Two little girls were sitting in front of me at the service. I thought they were both so precious. It, of course, made me think of my own future children. I always knew I wanted to children with the names, Jonah and Noah. I didn’t know if they would be two girls, two boys, or one of each. I just knew I always wanted my own little Jonah and Noah. As I sang along to the worship music the band was playing, I kept glancing down with teary eyes at two bows, one yellow and one purple. Both were carefully paved and pinned in a sea of beautiful ringlet curls. Each had a dress that perfectly match their bow.
A brick hit me in the pit of my stomach when I wondered if I had ruined my chances of ever being able to meet the Jonah and Noah I had dreamed about for years.
Would I ever have a husband? Would I ever see the world? Would I ever have a career? All these thoughts follow through my mind, and sent me on a mission to begin making great strides to get myself back on my feet I knew I couldn’t do it alone, though, so that’s when I began seeking God with everything I had.
6. How was your life before an eating disorder? How was your life during the eating disorder? How is you life since recovering from an eating disorder?
• Before my eating disorder, I was a typical college girl. I knew God, grew up in church, but didn’t have true and real relationship with Him. I wanted the classic college experience, and thus devoted my time to friends, performing, a party or two, and a little bit of studying thrown in. I thought I had a decent understanding of myself, and where I was going in life. I had some confidence, not a lot, but enough to get by.
• During my eating disorder, I felt like any understanding I had myself was all a false identity I have made up. I felt like I had no idea who I was anymore, much less where my life would go from there. The control I thought I had established so resolutely, turned out to be the other way around. I felt myself dangling by a thread in Anorexia’s tight grip, and I honestly lost care for how much longer my body could hold on for. Part of myself felt guilt for who I was and the actions I couldn’t seem to bring myself to stop doing. The other part of me was angry, and desperately wanted to be left alone to just continue doing things the way I wanted to. Technically, I was an adult, so I felt that everyone should leave me to my own decisions. If I wanted to waste away, or if I wanted to get better, either way, I wanted to not be harassed anymore. I especially hated the judgment and condemnation I received from those who I once considered closest to me.
In all, I felt alone and lost. The weakest I ever felt was during my eating disorder. I felt like I had no one, and had nothing left. Seeking God for help was all I felt I could do.
• Since my eating disorder, I have become so much more aware of spiritual warfare. I am not at all the person I was before, or during my eating disorder. I am much stronger, confident, empowered, and faith filled. What I went through, prepared me for the physical, emotional, and spiritual battles. I would face later in life. Looking back, I know that God allowed me to go through that time in my life, to mold me into the person I am today. I have not lived a cookie-cutter life, and never will. God made me a fighter with a message to share. My testimony is a very special gift that was given to me with a great purpose behind it. My story has given me the honor of being a soldier in His army, fighting to share of His great love and serve His children that are hurting and lost.
7. Is there anything you have to avoid in order to maintain your recovery?
A: In my last year that I was in counseling for my eating disorder, I saw a wonderful therapist. I told her how much I felt drawn to exercise, and it scared me that I would never just be able to stop. She showed me how exercise was good, and could be healthy in my life. I was given the advice to find a form of exercise that I enjoyed. From that moment on, I never went to the gym. Having a competitive personality, I knew the gym could be a toxic environment for me. I also have never enjoyed working out at the gym anyways, so nixing that from the list was a great relief to me. I chose my work out to be dance, being that that’s what I know, and enjoy doing. When it came to food, she told me the beauty of the word moderation. I re-introduced myself to foods I had once considered completely off-limits. Since being fully recovered, I have learned to enjoy all kinds of foods, the good and the bad. I am mindful of what I’m eating, allowing myself to have what I want, without overdoing it. There are, of course, days, where I feel that I have eaten more than I’m comfortable with. At those times, instead of falling into sheer panic, I brush it off with knowing I can just eat better the next day. I also may go for a walk to give myself some physical release, and also to clear my mind. The greatest peace I find, however, is when I ask for it from the Holy Spirit.
8. Do you still struggle with triggers to this day? If so, how do you deal with them?
A: When I was in the thick of my eating disorder, nearly every therapist I saw told me that my Anorexia would be something I would struggle with the rest of my life. I can proudly say that from the bottom of my heart, they were all 100% wrong!
For the most part, I try to eat moderately healthy. I don’t eat a great deal of sweets and try to be mindful of fried foods. The difference now is that those “bad foods” are something I can actually eat on occasion without having a complete freak out. Yes, I do remember the calorie content of almost everything in the fridge and in the pantry. I don’t, however, think anything of it anymore when I eat. I don’t calculate what I’ve eaten and what I’ve exhorted. I eat what I enjoy, and get in a little bit of everything in moderation. When it comes to working out, I do what I can with two kids under two. They basically are my main form of exercise, being that I never stop moving with them around. Every now and then, a thought may surface, but it’s immediately shut down and forgotten about every time I look at my kids and remember how far God has brought me.
9. What would your advice be to someone who is currently struggling to overcome their eating disorder?
A: First and foremost, go to God. Pray and read the word. Think of a word that describes your current circumstances or feelings, and look that word up in the concordance of your Bible. Look for every verse that contains that word, and find the truth you need to stand on in that moment. Doing this helped me so much when I was struggling, and fighting hard to dig myself out of the pit I was in. Also, don’t overwhelm yourself with the concept of recovery. you’re not going to go to sleep all night, and wake up better. God doesn’t expect that either he wants you to rely on him, and trust in him. The more you start leaning into him, and stop leaning on feelings and temptations, the quieter those voices of torment become. Declare scripture every time a bad thought comes into your head. Before you know it, you’ll be living life again, but you’ll be seven times stronger and wiser than before.
10. Explain how God has impacted your recovery. Do you have a specific bible verse that helped you heal?
A: “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” - Psalm 118:17. This was the verse I held dear to my heart throughout my battle. Once I began settling with the notion that my situation could be a life or death matter, I held onto this verse in proclamation, that I would be healed from my afflictions, and that I would one day share my testimony with all who needed to hear it.
11. Do you consider yourself to be a Vocal Survivor and why?
A: It took me just over seven years to conquer my battle with an eating disorder. Now I am sharing my story that God gave me so that I can help others. God gave me the gift of my testimony so that I could be a Vocal Survivor, and share His love with others in the most of their battles. I am honored to be a Vocal Survivor.
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