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Lake Effect Series: Never Hitting Rock Bottom

Note from Hollie: This story is extremely heartbreaking but I know many people can relate too.  As she never hit rock bottom but had clear struggles with disordered eating and pushed through.  Thank you to everyone for sharing and donating.  I am hoping to reach my half of my goal by mid January so anything you could donate would be so appreciated!  And if you have a story to share, please don’t hesitate to email me at lolzthatswim(at)gmail.com.  It truly means a lot to me to everyone supporting me during this race, whether you are donating, sharing a story or just sharing my story.

Submitted by anonymous 

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I have always been athletic. I started gymnasts at the age of 9 and competitive cheerleading shortly after.  Both sports are notorious for body imagines issues and I have dealt with body image issues my entire life.  For as long as I can remember I have felt very body conscious. It probably didn’t help to have one of my gymnastics trainers put me on a special diet when I was 10. I can’t imagine starting a diet at that age was a good idea and it most likely contributed to some of my issues. Either way, I was always incredibly insecure about my body.  I maintained a healthy weight throughout high school and college.

I believe my body image issues developed into a full blown problem around the time I graduated and felt like I was at an in-between phase in my life. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in accounting but did not feel ready to enter the real world. I was interning while going to school and I just found myself a little lost. Everything up until that point in my life was mapped out for me – Elementary school, middle school, high school, and then college. Now nobody was telling me what to do or where to go next and I wasn’t really sure myself of what I wanted to do.

So I went right back to school to get my Master’s degree. I bartended my way through college for extra money which was fun while I was in college. In Grad school, I had to continue bartending for money as I was not working full time and was going to school during the day and interning part time at an accounting firm.

This is when my problem started. All of my friends and roommates who I went to college had gone on to get their ‘big girl’ jobs. The girls I lived with would wake up and go to work every day and I would not have class until 2pm. I didn’t like the feeling of being unsettled and not knowing what to do next. On top of it, being a bartender – I was feeling like I was on display all the time.  My uniform showed my stomach. This was not a good combination for someone with a body image issue.  As time went on, I found myself getting more and more confused.  I lacked direction and wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be and as a result I became depressed.

On top of it, I had a serious boyfriend for about 2 years who I thought was ‘the one.’ He was a year younger, still in college and was bartending as well.  When my boyfriend graduated college he became pretty much obsessed with the night life industry and I started to absolutely hate it. I wanted to be settled in the next phase on my life that all of my friends had entered. He let himself go physically and lost all motivation to do much of anything outside of the bar scene. Although he loved me very much and treated me very well, I just wanted to move forward and he was obsessed with everything I started to hate.

At this time I felt like I lost control of everything around me. I wasn’t where I wanted to be at all. Somewhere during this time I discovered counting calories. I started counting calories and experimenting, and I started losing weight-fast. I loved the way I looked, I felt great, and I thought I looked great.  It was the one thing in my life that was going the way I wanted. As someone who has always been self-conscious, I finally felt comfortable in my skin.

For the first 6-7 months I legitimately did not realize what trouble I was getting myself into. I thought I was fine, I thought I was healthy and looked great. In reality, I was eating 3-400 calories a day. About once a week I would get so hungry, I would eat everything in sight, and then I became bulimic as well. I lost 20 pounds off my already small frame and my weight was all I could think about. I think it was a distraction from everything else in my life I was unhappy about. I wrote down everything I ate and my mood completely revolved around whether or not I was “good” or “bad” that day with my diet.

My boyfriend, friends, and parents obviously became concerned and I found myself completely unhappy in my relationship. I knew I had to break up with him which tore me up inside even more because I knew how good he was to me.

My friends and family started saying things to me and I became incredibly defensive because I legitimately did not believe I had a problem.

But I did.

How much I weighed became the only thing in my life that mattered to me. If I was having a ‘good’ day where I was able to eat only the food I had planned to eat – I was happy. If I veered off track slightly I was miserable, and started making myself sick, a couple of times per week. I didn’t want to go out with my friends or do anything because I was tired all the time. I either wanted to go to sleep early to avoid eating, or I was upset because I had eaten more than I thought acceptable. It was not a fun time in my life, and yet I thought I was doing great and those that were concerned about me were crazy. I almost started to identify with my eating issues and they became a part of me I was strangely proud of, although I was severely depressed.

I don’t know exactly how or when exactly I got better; I think it was a combination of things. Throughout it all I purchased a treadmill and started running religiously 6 days a week as soon as I woke up in the morning. I found it to be the only other thing in my life to make me happy and it gave me time to clear my head and think.

I struggled but pushed through and finally graduated with my master’s degree.  I later broke up with my boyfriend and landed my first ‘real’ job. Things in my life, outside of my eating started to get better slowly. I started to do some reading online to see if what my friends and family were saying was true and the more I read the more I realized I absolutely did have a problem- it sounds cliché but it’s definitely true.

Realizing I had a problem scared the crap out of me but it helped me work to fix it. There was no true rock bottom moment or moment where I fixed my issue. It happened gradually as the pieces of my life started to fall back into place. I began seeing a therapist to just talk through my feelings….to get out everything I was thinking and everything I held on to and it helped big time. Although the underlying issue of why I went was my eating issues, we almost never addressed them, and it still helped make me better. The one constant that remained throughout my recovery was my running. It became my therapy, my release and my place where i could work out all of the feelings that made me feel badly about myself. Every morning I would work through what was bothering me on my run and start my day. Everything got better and I got happier. I came back to a normal weight and was eating more.

I truly believe you cannot fully understand it until you go through it. I even have a hard time relating to who I was when I was going through that time. I know I will never be fully recovered as I am still self-conscious but I no longer let it affect my life and running remains to be my therapy. I know I was lucky and not everybody is able to pull themselves out as I was – I had a great support system that was able to recognize that I was having a problem and urge me to get help. I think your cause is so important because I know there are so many people out there struggling and raising awareness is a huge part in helping people suffering and their loved ones.

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8 responses

  1. Wow Hollie, I had no idea you struggled with this. It breaks my heart to know you went through such pain and unhappiness, but I KNOW it has made you stronger in the long run. You have made it out the other side, and found a true healthy partner in running that you can enjoy for life.

    It is so easy to obsess about the way you look, or comparing yourself to others, but only the strongest are able to overcome those concerns to not let it rule their lives. I know if you keep putting the energy in your body, your running will only continue to get better 🙂 Stay strong friend!

  2. Thanks for sharing Hollie. This story hits pretty close to my heart. It’s so important to spread the awareness and know that you aren’t alone in your battle.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story Anonymous, and thanks to you Hollie for passing it on to all of us! What you’re doing is amazing and I will definitely be donating to help this worthwhile cause! <3

  4. That is a really powerful story- it makes me heart ache to think about how many women experience some version of this (and scares me to death as I try to raise a daughter!) Thanks for sharing her story, Hollie.

  5. I love the silver lining to these stories. Finding something great when you are in a bad place and letting it help pull you out!

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