Lake Effect Half Marathon (1:25.32)

I need to break up the Lake Effect Half Marathon into three posts.  That is because I can truly say it was one of the best experiences from the very beginning to crossing the finish line at the very end.  I’ll start with the race recap, then life outside of running recap and then finally the entire race as a whole with Ophelia’s Place.  This race recap in itself will be long!

I never went to this race with the intention of having a fast and close to PRing race (not quite my PR is 1:24.49).  Though the race course was slightly long, it gave me great confidence in a Spring PR.  I went in with the intention of fundraising for Ophelia’s Place and having a lot of fun with some of my best friends in upstate NY.  My “A” goal was to break 1:30 and anything under 1:30 would be golden.  (I am still hoping for a faster half in late Spring).  After last week’s 14k, I thought a sub 90 minute half was attainable.

I’ve had all my best half marathon races with no warm up.   After driving from Rochester to Syracuse to the race (roughly 75 minutes) I thought it might be best to run a mile around the course.  My legs felt like led the previous day so I knew a warm up mile might be in my best interest. So Laura and I warmed up a mile and just chatted away.

After using the bathroom and stashing my stuff as I normally do, I headed to the start line.  After the National Anthem the race went off and I immediately found myself around 4-5th female.  I made it my executive goal to finish under 90 minutes.  I chatted with a couple of people for the first mile and it felt as though the first mile took forever.  In reality it took 6 minutes and 36 seconds.  I figured it would be my fastest mile and I was actually a bit worried that maybe 1:30 was too aggressive.  My first mile is normally my fastest followed by my last mile.  I didn’t feel great during the first mile and I honestly was certain I would probably get slower.

lakeeffect1

Then I ran mile 2 in 6:43.  I passed a couple of females even though my second mile was not exactly where I wanted to be (it was my slowest).  I questioned myself after the second mile because a 6:43 second mile would mean I had a more narrow window for a sub 90 minute half.

The first 3 miles headed out of the parkway.  Around mile 2.5, I could see the leaders had already made the turn and were heading back towards us.  I was little bit jealous that the lead male got two cyclists. Obviously I could see the person in front of me so knew the direction of the course but I always get jealous when the top male gets a cyclist and the top female does not (even when I’m not the top female).  I ended up passing the first place female around mile 3 and decided more than anything wanted to win this race.  I was going to give it everything I had.  So that is what I did.

When I made the turn around I began to see the other runners coming in the opposite direction.  I really like out and back courses because I can see (and high five) everyone on course.  It is so motivating to me.  Mile 4 and 5 went by extremely quick because I was focused on high fiving and chatting with people.  Mile was actually my fastest mile (6:18) followed by mile 5 (6:20).

I attempted to grab water from the famous Suzie and ended up getting her soaken wet.  I vowed on lap two  (it was an out and back, out and back course)  that I would be better.  I mentally practiced until around mile 11 when I would see her again.

I realized that going towards the finish line was going with the wind so my miles were about 10 seconds faster (6:20 range).  I hadn’t noticed the slight wind going away from the start until I realized it wasn’t there going towards the start.

We hit the halfway point and I saw the race director it was back into the wind.  Luckily I could see more people along the course which kept me occupied.

lakeeffecthalfmarathon

Mile 7 was uneventful.  At this point I began to dig deeper and just focus on the end…which was still over 6 miles away.  Since we had a slight wind it was slightly harder.  (6:28).

I began less chatting after mile 8 because I was tired and wanted to focus on finishing the race.  It’s really hard for me to not smile and say thank you to everyone who says good job.

During mile 8 something really exciting happened; I got my own lead cyclist!  Unlike the Run for the Dream half marathon, he remained about 50 feet in front of me (not side by side).  Therefore I couldn’t chat with him. (but you aren’t supposed to chat with the cyclists anyways…apparently).  This race though I was pushing my limits so I’m not sure I would be able to chat if I tried.

By mile 9, I had started counting down the miles.  I was tired and was ready to finish the race.  When we did the final 180 back towards the start I dug deep and just focused on the end.  I was really tired and desperately trying to hold on to the lead.

lakeeffectcute
Just for some good measure of staying cute.

Around mile 11, I passed one male and also saw Suzie.  For the .1 before her I prepared myself to grasp the water without spilling it on her.  It worked and she even snapped this photo of me.  It was the highlight of my race.  HA!  (6:29)

lakeeffectrunningsuzie

The final mile6:29 was just about finishing.  This year I was more prepared for going by the finish line and doing the final loop near a playground.  I was tired and I was staring longingly at the finish line the entire last half mile.  I focused on the end and then all of sudden I was almost there.

Since I was so focused and looking down at my feet, I looked up and saw a ribbon to run through and “break the tape”.  Though I’ve won several races, I’ve only “broken the tape” at two.  Nothing can take away the feeling of running through a ribbon.  It honestly felt like all my hard work from fundraising, from training and from racing was all rewarded.  I quickly threw up my hands for facebook and then nearly burst into tears (of joy).

lakeffectwin

Long story short: I can truly say this is my favorite race as far as the process to get there, the actual race and the joy I had with friends.  My splits ranged from 6:18 (mile 4) to 6:44 (mile 2).  I am pleasantly surprised and I am hoping to pick a PR at the Shamrock half marathon next month in my home town!  Despite it being a little long of a course (from tangents or from just being long) it’s my third fastest half marathon.  It was a shock to open up my distance running at this pace.

The race director and I
The race director and I

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race?

Are you a chatty/talkative racer? 

Virginia is For Lovers 14k (56:00)

I love all J&A races.  I have always had a good time running them and will drive back to my home town to them.  It was a nice weekend getaway.  It doesn’t feel like this race was a week ago but due to having so many Lake Effect Stories, I decided to wait to post it.  This week I’ll be playing a lot of catch up on race recaps and life.  It did exist in real life, even with a delayed blog recap!

After getting to my house Friday night, Tim and I relaxed and hung out until Sunday.  This is one of the few times I have actually driven to a race (normally dad drives to all the VA races). Since dad was away on travel I had to navigate to the race myself.  After getting lost by following a crowd of cars (who ended up going to Church not to the race) I made it.  We (Tim and I) got there relatively late so were only able to get in 1.25 miles for a warm up.

Stephanie, Mollie and I at the race start.
Stephanie, Mollie and I at the race start.

I didn’t know how this race would go but did know I would be happy with anything between 6:30-6:50 pace.  Except for a few ice patches, and a little bit of wind, the race conditions were pretty ideal.  I didn’t know what a good time would be with not much racing since the summer and racing an odd distance.  I didn’t know if I should race it like a 10k or a 20k…but eventually settled on going with it like I normally do.  I don’t normally have an exact pace I’m shooting for.

Long story short: The first 3 miles I took out too fast (6:14, 6:14, 6:16) then  I regretted it the last few miles. 

When the race started I was in a pack of about 3 girls.  I passed the first 2 at the one mile mark and had one in front of me for a while.  We went back and forth until mile 3 where she took a lead and never looked back.  I would have loved a win but she was holding a faster pace and opening the gap with each mile.  That is what faster runners do.

Mile one and two were very similar and quiet.  I ran both miles at 6:14 pace.  I tried to stay comfortable.  I thought I was comfortable at the time but looking back I think I took it out a little bit too fast.

Maybe if I hadn't been goobering around I wouldn't have had to power through the rest of the race...maybe...
Maybe if I hadn’t been goobering around I wouldn’t have had to power through the rest of the race…maybe…

When we hit the “hill” (around 2.5) at the amphitheater I knew the woman I was running with had taken the lead for good.  Although we weren’t even 5k into the race my mind thought we were “almost done”…which was terrible.  (No Hollie, you still have 5 miles to go).  Also terrible is running through the amphitheater sober as I have had a few drinks and gone up that ramp a few times.  It’s a different experience.

Around mile 3, I desperately hoped I wasn’t going to die.  It really felt like I set myself up for a rough time and blowing up.

I hit the 5k at 19:36.

Mile 4 I knocked out some side fives with Mollie (Oiselle) and a few others.  It was awesome.  I felt my pace slow down a lot but focused on getting to the 10k. (6:33)

At mile 5 I could tell a few females were starting to catch me.   We also hit some mud due to the rain/sleet/ice from yesterday.  I tried to avoid the cold mush but I definitely got swamped.  Around mile 5 I glanced at my garmin and made the executive goal to try and hit the 10k mark under 40 minutes.  It kept me motivated and focused.

Mile 6 I was just focused on breaking 40 for a 10k…which I did and I was pleased.  I was running the majority of the race by myself but knew I had two female who were gaining on me.  I hate the feeling of knowing people are gaining and you are dying (6:36).

Mile 7 I don’t remember anything but some guy getting really close to me.  I thought it was someone I knew.  We are running down a two lane road there is no need to get within a centimeter of me.  (That’s my number 1 racing pet peeve…I think I gave him the look of a daemon child). I am extremely claustrophobic so people getting in my “racing bubble” when it can be avoided is a big deal for me.  Obviously at the start of the race it’s hard but in the middle of a race it terrifies me.

vifl14k
5 minutes later I’m a different person…

As we approached mile 8 all I could think about was holding second.  I heard them talking behind me and gaining with every stride.  They were closing in the gap.  I knew they were gaining.  I knew I had to give it everything I had or I would probably get fourth overall.  Getting fourth wouldn’t be the end of the world but I really wanted to maintain my place.

After mile 8, it was roughly .7 to the end.  I shut everything out and just focused on getting to the finish line.  I couldn’t tell you any of the scenery we ran by because I was in my own world. 

The race ended inside and once we got in there it went from sunny to dark.  It was like a bad acid trip but I did and maintained about 6 seconds in front.

Post race and we are done.
Post race photo

Long story short: I am happy with this race.  I was expecting around 6:30-6:50 (closer to 6:50) but was happy to be well under that. I was happy that I could really gut out the last mile and maintain whatever place I ended up getting.  My average pace was 6:23 which was far faster than that goal.  Not only that but it’s also 5 seconds per mile faster than my half marathon PR.  It makes me (really hope) that a half marathon PR is possible this spring.

Questions for you:

What odd race distances have you run? 

I guess college 6ks and this 14k is all I have.

How was your Valentine’s Day?

Lake Effect Series: I’m Healthy Now

Note from Hollie: Today is the day that I run the Lake Effect Half Marathon.  It is hard to believe this is the result of three months of fundraising and eating disorder awareness.  We did it though.  We raised over 2500 dollars and we raised even more awareness about eating disorders.  Thank you everyone for your support.  It’s not too late to donate or enter the giveaway.  I will be doing a final post sometime this week to recap the campaign as a whole, announce giveaway winners and provide a final closure.  It has truly been an incredible experience and I never would have dreamed we would have raised 2500 dollars together. 

The final story is the most emotional and the most graphic.  Thank you for sharing.

———–

When Hollie asked me to share my eating disorder story, I jumped at the chance. Of course I’d help. After all, having a distorted relationship with my body and with food is all in the past. I’m healthy now. I’ve moved on. I’m recovered. Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself into the mindset of someone who has an eating disorder, even if that someone was just you at a younger age. Luckily, I happened to have kept an online diary during some of my darker years, and the entriesserve as a constant reminder of what that life was like, and how miserable it was. Some of the entries are truly heart breaking, and are hard to read, but I’ve included a few passages to paint a better picture of just how distorted your head can get when you’re suffering from an eating disorder.

Like so many others, my issues with food evolved over many, many years. At age 8, I determined that my thighs were too fat, and by age 10 I was trying out my first fad diet (Cabbage Soup). I’ll never forget going to McDonald’s with my friend’s family and passing on French fries. I felt triumphant; as if I belonged to a special society of people who were too good to put such trash in their bodies.

“I like going to bed with my stomach empty. Makes me feel…less like a failure”

During my adolescent years, I slowly started on the downward spiral towards food obsession. I went on numerous fad diets, counted calories and fat grams, skipped meals, went on fasts and eventually even tried to make myself throw up. At first I considered vomiting only as a last resort. Something I’d do in “emergency” situations where I had eaten something unplanned and “bad.” Most days I’d restrict my calories to practically nothing, only to binge on whatever I could find once I got home from school. Then, as I could feel my stomach churn at the presence of food, I’d rush to the bathroom in a panic, intent on removing as much of the offending substance as I could. But I hated puking. It was logistically difficult to manage while living with parents and it was just plain gross. There is nothing glamorous about vomit. I kept hoping that if I could just get a control on my diet, then I wouldn’t need to throw up anymore. If I could just get my weight low enough, then I wouldn’t need to diet at all. But the weight didn’t drop off like I wanted to, and instead, primarily due to my horrific eating habits, it increased.

“I want to see skin hanging off my bones. It’ll make me feel like my skin is more like a large sack and I can hide in it” 

My downward spiral continued into my first year of college. Surrounded by thin, beautiful, attractive classmates, I became painfully aware of everything that I was not. My body image plummeted, and I found myself increasingly turning to food to numb how I lonely and depressed I felt. I’d go to the dining hall and pack a to-go carton FULL of food. Starches were my favorites. Garlic bread, pizza, cookies, hot dogs, cakes, bagels. Not to mention drink containers filled with frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream. I’d sit in my dorm room alone and eat and eat and eat until my stomach literally couldn’t distend any further. Then I’d head to the bathroom where I’d wait until I knew I was alone and I’d vomit everything out. Over time I learned which foods came up the easiest, and which ones were difficult. I learned how to be quick and how to be quiet. I concealed my secret very well, but to my despair, my weight refused to drop, and instead, continued to increased.

“I feel like I’m falling apart. I’ve really come to detest what I’ve turned into. Physically, I’m really gross. I can’t even describe it. AHH! I can’t handle myself anymore! It’s like I’m teetering on the edge of this huge cliff. If I let myself go then I’ll plummet back into the world of extreme depression and unattractiveness. If I can manage to get myself on stable grounds then I’ll be okay but I’m just sort of handing there, my fingers grasping at the rim. But they’re losing their grip and I see it all just slipping away. My face.My hair.My ideal body.My grades.My friends.My future. I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m too far gone. It’s too bad they can’t put me into solitary confinement for a month so that I can just slowly wither up and die. Or at least get thin.”

A couple of months into my sophomore year, I hit a breaking point. I couldn’t say exactly what changed, but something inside me snapped. I stopped eating.  I lost all focus on school or relationships and instead became entirely fixated on my weight. I weighed myself almost hourly, making sure that I didn’t magically gain a pound when I wasn’t looking. I hardly ate anything and what I did eat I immediately threw up. My hands couldn’t stop feelingmy hips, stomach, thighs, and collarbones, searching out for areas that felt thinner or bonier. I’d try on and retry on clothes to see if they fit any looser than the day before.

“I hate the way I can’t think about food normally. I hate how I can’t stand the way it feels inside me. I hate the way my mood is so dependent on those three digits the scale reads. I hate how throwing up doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. But I couldn’t imagine living any other way. This way of thinking is too infused with my way of thinking. So throwing up food isn’t particularly good to a number of my body systems, but it gives me some sort of mental comfort, like some sort of accomplishment. Sick? Yes. But I can’t stop. If I did what would I do?”

By that spring, I had lost about 30lbs over the course of 3-4months. I was feeling good and in control. I just wanted to lose a little bit more.If I could just lose a little more, then I could give myself permission to be happy, because only then would I be worthy enough.But while my weight was still well within the normal range, the weight loss began to attract attention. My parents became suspicious and shortly thereafter figured out what was going on. I would like to say this was the point at which I finally got help, finally started getting better, but that was still a long ways off. Instead, I was forced to see a social worker and then a therapist. I know my parents were only doing what they thought was best, but I was not in the right mindset to receive help, and instead I resented them for it, and quit going shortly after only a couple of sessions.

“I have so much emotion stored up in me and I HATE having it come out. Crying is weak and therefore I am weak. I detest weak people. I want to be strong and resilient and independent and not need anybody but I’m nothing like that. But food helps me pretend. It gives me a focus. By constantly focusing on weight and good I can take my mind off everything else that I hate about myself. Because if my weight was perfect, then I’d have to find some other part of me that wasn’t and try to fix that too. Because there has to be a reason I’m so messed up. There has to be something wrong with me. But I can only fix one problem at a time because otherwise I’ll get so depressed and frustrated I’ll just give up and succumb to the sadness.”

Over the next year and half, I continued to struggle with my eating. I frequently found myself in debt after spending entire paychecks on food that would be gone in a night. I isolated myself from friends and avoided social situations, but I also became increasingly frustrated and angry with my situation. I hated that I had become so controlled by food, and gradually I tried to release myself from its grasp, which was of course easier said than done. I’d start off Monday promising myself I’d eat healthy and nutritious and in moderation, but by Friday I’d be consuming an extra-large pizza by myself. It seemed hopeless. I was hopeless.

“I’m sick of this. I’m sick of binging. I’m sick of throwing money in the toilet. I’m sick of wondering when I’ll get my next “fix”. What it will be, when and where I’ll do it. I’m like a drug addict.”

However, I did make tiny steps towards progress. With graduation looming, and threats from parents, I finally decided to commit to getting better. I bought myself a book on recovering from bulimia as well as a few books on intuitive eating. Despite appearances, I was still a somewhat rational person and knew that I needed some nutrition. So I started there. In between my massive binge/purge sessions I’d force myself to have an apple, or maybe some carrots, and let that sit in my stomach, repeating to myself over and over that while uncomfortable, the nutrients were necessary. Using the books as a reference, I relearned how to eat and how to recognize fullness. Once my eating had somewhat stabilized, the real work began. My eating disorder was an excuse for me to ignore some very painful emotions that I had hidden from myself. For years I had believed myself to be unworthy and incapable of so much. Identifying and confronting those beliefs as false has taken years.

“I’m slipping. I can feel my thoughts changing. I’ve been trying to stay so positive and so on top of things but it’s getting too overwhelming. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. It’s like standing on a point and being told by a million different people that in order to reach your goal you should go this way or that way or no this way over here. So you pick one, hoping it will lead you in the right direction, but now you’re feeling even farther away than you started and you being to think you chose the wrong path so you start to doubt everything you’re doing and try to backtrack or maybe hop on another path. But how far do you try out one path before you give up? How long do you go without your goal in sight before you try a different strategy?”

My recovery from an eating disorder, like my descent into it, was a gradual process. I still have days when my demons rear their ugly heads, attempting to lure me back into the darkness. Luckily, I’m stronger now than I once was, and I know how to face them. I still occasionally worry about weight, but I try not to let those worries consume me and my former obsession with food has even evolved into a loveof all things cooking and baking. I guess that a silver lining?

A big thank you to Hollie for letting me share my story with you all. Hopefully you gained a better perspective of what it’s like to be in the mind of someone with an eating disorder. If you have, or are currently suffering from, an eating disorder or eating disordered thoughts, my heart goes out to you. You are worth so much more.

Lake Effect Series: 15 Year Battle
Note from Hollie: This is the final story before the race tomorrow.  I cannot thank everyone enough for sharing their story, for donating and for being apart of this journey.  We are currently at 2361 and only 139 dollars from 2500!  There is still time to donate if you can.  Seriously, thank you.  Also it’s not too late to share or enter the giveaway associated!  There are lots of great prizes like Kind bars, energybits, granola, Healthy Bites and Pocket Fuel!
On another note, I have recently started following the author of this story Jackie.  She is an amazing, incredible and strong woman and I cannot sing her enough songs.  I definitely encourage you to check out her blog.
—————–
Submitted by Jackie 
My journey from eating disorder to recovery has spanned 15+ years, but the sweetest feeling in the world is knowing that there IS life after an eating disorder. It doesn’t have to forever be the defining statement over your life, your relationships and your thoughts. Recovery is possible, just never give up.

My struggle with food and eating began in my elementary years, I can’t pinpoint a year, but I know I had an unhealthy relationship with food even back then. I slowly gained weight and by junior high was pretty overweight. The pre-teen/teenage years are pretty unforgiving when it comes to being overweight. It seems that people love to target and pick on the overweight kids. I was bullied and made fun of on a regular basis through junior high, but you would probably never know it, I learned to hide it well. By the end of 8th grade I remember having episodes of purging, but it was scattered here and there. It was often associated with stress and handling all these feelings that I didn’t know what to do with.

By high school (particularly later in 9th and early 10th grades) my struggle had become an all out battle. What was at one point a stress relief became an overwhelming addiction that I had lost complete control over. I lost over 100 pounds through this time and by 10th grade, not long after my 16th birthday, my family doctor recommended to my parents that they seek treatment for me. I spent six weeks at an inpatient eating disorder clinic and thanks to insurance was told I had to leave and pursue treatment back at home. I struggled with depression, anxiety, thinking that this was the end of my story, I couldn’t see hope outside of my eating disorder, it was my best friend and my worst enemy and it had its grips on me.

Fast forward through the high school years, I continued to struggle. I graduated and moved off to college and rather than the freshman 15 most gain, my eating disorder amplified and I struggled badly for those years. I am an overachiever and push myself to my limits at anything I do. I was trying to balance college studies and my struggle with an eating disorder, and having a hard time. I was pushing to graduate college with a double major in three years, wanting to keep all A’s. I used my eating as an escape for the stress I felt. A binge/purge cycle would relieve the feelings of anxiety that built up inside.
There were times that I’d get a handle on my eating, I’d think I had made a turn for the better, and then without notice I’d be swept into the struggle more fully than the time before. Eating disorders are rough because you always think you have control of it, until you realize that you don’t. I saw therapists. psychiatrist, etc throughout this time, all trying to help me…all aiding in my eating. None ever understanding how I kept falling back into the same cycles over and over.
I finished college in 3 years, and met my future husband. I got engaged and a year after college, I got married. Shortly after getting married I found out I was pregnant. Eating disorders and pregnancy are hard. You’re already freaked out about your body and then it starts morphing and changing in ways you cannot control. I did my best. My very, very best for my child. Trying my hardest to always put her needs before mine, I did well for awhile, but once she was born the struggles continued to come and go. Four years later I had another daughter and somewhere in between this time, in the highs and the lows, I began to crawl out of the pit I had been sucked into for 15 years. I can’t pin point a moment, I can’t tell you I did x,y,z, and that helped me. I don’t know exactly what it was. I do know I never stopped trying to get better.
Lets jump to today….I have 2 beautiful little girls that are 4 and 8. They look to me as an example, they want to look like me, act like me, be me. That is very scary when you struggle with an eating disorder and you’d give your life to spare them from this struggle. I started working out and lifting weights a few years back and begin to find the strength in my body to be amazing. Just very recently, I discovered my love of running. I just completed my first Half Marathon the past weekend (Feb 9) and am still in awe that I ran that far. I see beauty, I see redemption, I see a newfound respect for my body for its strength to carry me. I have found my legs to be such an amazing gift to me, food is now fuel for me and I have such a healthy relationship with it that I shock myself on a regular basis. I can truly say running has saved my life. It has given back to me something that I never knew I possessed….pride in myself and a love for myself.
Running has made me feel whole, see my worthiness. I am a Christian and I thank God always for sustaining me in my struggle. He truly has given me the strength to press on and never give up. My faith carried me in the darkness and that coupled with my running shoes are carrying me places I never thought possible.
I fought a hard battle, I never gave up having hope that one day I would live without the struggle of an eating disorder. I am a survivor. My voice may be small, but I am not longer ashamed of the battle I fought. I made it, many others are still fighting and I want to give people the hope….just keep going! If one person finds help, if one person sees hope, then my battle has been well worth it. Eating disorders don’t have to stay hidden and in the dark, there is such beauty in the freedom of the truth.
Thanks for letting me tell my story,
Jackie 🙂
Lake Effect Series: Dear Diary

Note from Hollie: This was sent to me by Sophie.  Thank you Sophie for sending me this and it’s a truly inspirational story. 

There is still time to donate.  Yesterday we reached 2231 dollars, every single dollar donated will be put to good use.  Thank you.  Thank you everyone for donating and sharing these stories.  I truly cannot believe that that the race is 2 days away.  I’m actually traveling to NY as you are reading this!  Finally don’t forget you can enter the giveaway by sharing any of the stories, giveaway link, fundraising link or anything involved.  Just let me know you did! 

————————–

As many of you already know, I battled disordered eating, from puberty until my hospitalization in 2005. My official diagnosis was Anorexia – purging type. I would restrict calories and purge the calories I did consume with excessive exercise and/or vomiting. The disease evolved in the 15 years I battled it – making a transition in my early 20’s to full-on binge eating disorder then, back to anorexia again in my mid 20’s. There are so many reasons a person succumbs to such a disease. There’s much research and plenty of theories – none of which I feel like engaging you in with this blog entry. Mental illness is a very difficult topic because there are just too many factors – here are mine:

I was the oldest of two children born to 17 year old high school students. My parents married, got jobs in the local car factory, and did the best they could to support their young family. My mother was born into (and had in a sense escaped, when she became pregnant with me) a heavily toxic family as the oldest of 6 children. Sexual and physical abuse as well as alcoholism, were part of her daily existence as a child. My father was the 2nd oldest of 5 children born to a hard working family with a very emotionally unavailable mother. They raised their children the only way they knew how. My mother knew absolute instability, neglect, and abandonment – and my father knew how to disassociate. This was the perfect storm.

I was the oldest of 2 children and spent my entire childhood trying to keep my emotionally unstable mother happy so she didn’t fly off in a rage and abuse my brother – because when she did, I was powerless. In order to do this I had to keep my brother on his best behaviour and my father happy so he was always in a good mood. Even at the age of 6 I understood that my safety and the safety of my little brother, was in my hands entirely. As you can imagine, this didn’t work. My brother still suffered from my mother’s rage, my father still left, and I was still scrambling to pick up the pieces.

No one ever gave me this role but it was not a conscious decision that I would be the keeper to this household. I just fell into this place because of my basic survival instincts as a little girl. I learned that if I was one step ahead of everyone else, I would be safe. So, my quest for perfection began when I was 6, when my brother’s abuse began.  I was doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and making beds from the age of 6 to 8. By 9 I was left to take care of my brother while my parents worked, and I was in charge of cooking. I started babysitting other people’s children at that age for extra cash as well because it angered my mother when I asked for money for things for school – like pencils, erasers, new shoes. I learned that being perfect was absolutely critical to my safety.

Eventually when my dad left and my mother had nothing to be angry with me for, she started picking on my appearance. I was entering puberty and I was gaining weight, which became her focus. I would be so pretty if only I lost weight. I would be a better baseball player if only I lost weight. I would be a better… you get the point. So did I. The message was loud and clear.

My relationship with my mother would continue to be based purely on my productivity and accomplishments as I grew – and I tried to love her anyway. What I did not do however, was try to love myself. My identity was built and by hitting rock bottom with my eating disorder I was finally given permission to look at why and how that identity was killing me, slowly. I recovered in 2005 and went on to work tirelessly on rebuilding my self-worth and giving myself permission to find ME. I am now a successful entrepreneur with two businesses that allow me to embrace my two biggest passions: childcare, and fitness. I am a mother to an incredible little boy who is an absolute JOY to love, and I am a competitive bodybuilder. In spite of the rocky start and the rock bottom plummet, I am here, happy, enjoying discovering all of who I am and what the Universe has in store for me. This is the reason I decided it was time to share my experience.

Over the years I have kept a journal. Recently I came across the journal I kept while I was at the peak of my illness. While I understand the depth of my experience I was now reading these journal entries from a healthy mind, and I was absolutely floored with what I read. I want to share some of my entries with you. They are from the mind of a girl in her mid-20’s who has only the buds of consciousness that her lack of self-worth is controlling her drive to…kill herself for perfection.

Entry #1

Sometimes, like tonight, I want to stop. I picture myself as a bystander, watching this pathetic 26 year old ram her hand down her throat to remove the filth she swallowed. I see the superficial things like the mucus dripping from her nose and the strained blood vessels around her eyes, and the fear of failing to succeed at getting it all out – all of what? Food? Shame? Regret? Maybe all of the above. I see the filth all over her hand, the raw skin on her knuckles from her teeth as she pushes harder into her mouth – more frantic as time passes to get it all out. Regret kicks in, turns to shame and self pity. I see all this in my mind. What do I do with this image? Nothing usefull – clearly. I suppose I store it in my reserve pile of shame. Chances are, I won’t require it, there’s enough to go around. I want to stop, a little. I want to keep doing it more than I want to stop. I want to be skinny more than I want to stop. I see the health risks but I see them as “far away” and for those to will do this forever. I don’t see myself doing this forever. But I think I will.

Entry #2

I can’t tell him that I purge up to 6x a day, that I purge even vegetables. That I feel so unbearably alone. That I feel like no one would give a crap if I disappeared. That I take handfuls of laxatives, that I compare myself to every single person I see. That I hate myself. I hate my body, my face, my laugh, my voice, my thoughts, my dreams, I hate everything. I beg God to take me almost daily. I pray my suffering will end because I can’t end my struggle alone. I don’t have the strength to go on. How do I say that? So I don’t. I keep it all inside where I hope it will dissolve but I know it never will. One day I hope to look back on these entries in shock. Completely shocked by my words. But for now, they are mine, and all I have. My head hurts, I have to sleep. I’m too hungry to stay awake.

Entry #3

6lbs down. I swear to you that was the most beautiful thing I could ever see. I want to lose 8lbs more before I see the doctor at the hospital. How sad that I feel I need to be a better anorexic to deserve treatment, much less a diagnosis. I want to be a better, more successful anorexic. It’s insane but I can’t help it.

Entry #4

I had my assessment today with the Regional Treatment Center. After all the questionnaires and my interview with the head psychiatrist I’m told “You’re very ill and we recommend hospitalization”. Apparently I’m in a category of individuals who suffer from cardiac arrest and it’s a matter of time until I have a heart attack. You know, I honestly thought I was going to hear  “you’re not too far gone, we’ll set you up with a self-help plan”. Instead she repeated all the statements I made that stood out to her and explained how they reflect the views of a seriously ill person.  All I could think as she was saying all this was “but i’m STILL FAT! I still have fat on my stomach and thighs – can’t you see that?”

Lastly, if something does happen to me in my quest for thin, I hope my family forgives my selfishness. I’m afraid this may hurt me. Maybe not kill me, but i’m aware that it isn’t good. I know it’s selfish and vain but I can’t live without my ED. I don’t know how to undo 27 years of filth and shame.

Entry #5

The thing about anorexia that continues to shake me is that an otherwise intelligent educated woman can be convinced (by herself of all people) that she is hideous and unlovable. I can honestly say that I hate myself. No amount of weight loss can change that. I don’t like myself enough to feed myself. I feel unworthy of the food I put in my mouth, and once it’s in my stomach for any length of time I get a sudden fear that I don’t deserve what I just ate, and I purge it. Lately, even water. That’s a fucking sickness for you.

Entry #6

When things started to get tough in my life I just started to focus on destroying myself. I run twice a day, sprints in the morning, and a steady-state run in the evening – all on less than 600 calories a day. Every time I run, I pray to collapse. I realize the only way I could stop is if I died and I could only die if it happened to me. I couldn’t end my own life any other way. I desperately want it to end.

________________________________________________________________

As you can see this girl needed help in the biggest way and while she saw it – she didn’t want to acknowledge it. She was so far gone that she didn’t feel worthy of the help. The story ended happily but so many do not. There are hundreds of men and women on waiting lists to get into recovery centers like I did – some die on that waiting list. Death from starvation is one thing, but death from starvation of self-love is entirely another. No one should suffer from that, much less die from it.

If you take nothing else from this story, I want you to remember that there is absolutely nothing you cannot do with self-love.  As you can see from my story, I was not granted self-love – I had to build it – and I had to hit rock bottom to even understand the work that needed to be done in order to attain it. I work on it even now, daily – and I will never stop because that is my birthright – as it is yours <3.

%d bloggers like this: