Set Me Free: Reflecting on November 1, 2013

November 1st, 2013 was the answer I received to the above journal prayer–in the form of a broken kneecap, cracked in half during a running workout. The fractured bone was a representation of my fractured relationship with running and my body, a physical manifestation of my emotional pain.

It was the most challenging, painful, confusing days of my life. I fought between the Rachael who was distraught about not being able to run, with the Rachael who noticed this feeling of relief–relief to stop racing toward the impossible standards she set for herself, relief from the pressure of eating “perfectly” for running. I saw the Rachael who was exhausted and needed to lie down, and it wasn’t until this circumstance that she finally felt she could.

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We Must Speak

I want to tell you that it is okay to ask for help. That even now I still struggle to do it myself. That just the other day, when I finally admitted to myself that the eating disorder was worsening again, that it was okay to say something.

That I must.

I want to tell you that no problem is too small to keep to yourself. That you deserve to speak for your body, and that perhaps those of us who suffer from eating disorders or other modes of self-harm have some of the toughest times asking for help because we have learned to speak with our body instead of our tongues. That we do speak, but in a language of silence when we leave the dinner table too soon, when we skip lunch, when we creep to the kitchen at midnight to fill our bodies too quickly and too guiltily, when we stow away to the bathroom after every meal–because doesn’t it feel like your eating disorder will always be there for you? That it will keep you company when you feel your worst, and no one else will get hurt but you? That you don’t have to “wear anyone down” but yourself when you feel stressed and hurt and angry and frustrated?

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Eating Disorders: Confusion, Loneliness, and Secrets

When I saw myself in the mirror and thought I could stand to lose a few pounds, I figured I must have a problem with overeating. How could I be this big if I eat healthy? I thought. When I began to restrict, I thought I merely had a problem with eating too much food and I wanted to “punish” myself, or my body, for wanting too much food all the time.

That’s also why I thought I never had an eating disorder–I figured I just had to restrict because I was “messed up.” I remember asking my mom to get my thyroid checked months into my restriction to see if I needed thyroid pills to fix what I thought was a slow metabolism. I thought I wasn’t losing weight, that I was doomed to be big and hungry forever. I also thought that the sluggishness and depression I felt was due to an under-active thyroid–ironically it was actually because I was drastically restricting my food intake.

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Do I Really Have An Eating Disorder?

If you are wondering if you have an eating disorder, then you probably do. Bold statement, maybe. But the fact that you are questioning it means that you might want to take a closer look.

I had a feeling for a long time that something felt “off”. But I thought it wasn’t “that bad”, so I continued with what I was doing, only to see more and more that I was falling into a trap. What began as reasonable weight loss (just taking out a few processed foods here and there), led to counting calories, restricting calories, weighing myself twice a day, feeling the need to compete with my past weigh-ins to get lower and lower . . . and it goes on.

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