I didn’t realize that restriction would do so much damage to by body. I thought that losing weight was a good thing…there didn’t seem to be a point or place where I would ever lose too much weight. I didn’t know that no matter what my weight was, my body would start shutting down if it was too far below my natural set point (the weight that my body is naturally supposed to be at due to the way God made me). I didn’t know so I am now telling you; restricting food & dieting are not worth it. Eating disorders are very serious and can be fatal. I care about you and want you to know what happens when you don’t nourish your body with the food it needs.
From a biological standpoint, I didn’t have a menstrual cycle for a year and a half, my heart rate was dangerously low, my weight was dangerously low for my body type, I lost the ability to concentrate, & my organs started shutting down. I didn’t have a period because my body sensed that I was living in a famine and that it wasn’t safe to bring children into the world. My digestive system slowed down completely due to the little amount of food I was consuming. My stomach muscles weren’t used to being used a lot, so when I started eating a normal amount it was very, very painful. I would eat one bite of food and be “full”. It was an artificial fullness that took me 6 months of painful eating to push through. I lost all ability to read my hunger and fullness cues. I couldn’t distinguish between the pain of being hungry and the pain of being super full. This is called early satiety. I either restricted or binged; it was all or nothing thinking. Restriction actually lead to food obsession and compulsive eating and more binging. There was a point where I couldn’t go through each day without thinking about what I would eat each meal. I became addicted to the “high” of feeling hungry; I would rather feel hunger pains than accidentally eat too much. The GI distress was so great that I actually began to have mini-panic attacks before I ate meals, making eating even more unenjoyable. It is not an experience you want to go through. I lost the ability to concentrate and absorb information. I spent hours studying, crying, and praying for what would have used to have only been an hour of studying for me. My sleep habits were (and still are) completely disturbed. I would often wake up at 3:00 am unable to sleep because I was so hungry. I didn’t have any energy.
From a psychological standpoint, I lost the ability to live, love, and function. I was depressed, filled with anxiety, fear, guilt and shame. I hated my body, I hated myself for allowing myself to get to this place, and I lost interest in life.
From a social standpoint, I became very isolated and hated leaving my house. I only liked hanging out with my family, my fiancé, and a close few friends. Being with people was too overwhelming for me. I was disengaged and isolated. A lot of times I couldn’t be present in conversations with people because I was so consumed with the fact that I was hungry or in pain.
On an emotional scale, I was extremely irritable, moody, emotional, and sad.
In the spiritual realm, I felt like God had abandoned me and that he was extremely mad, disappointed, and frustrated with me. I felt like he didn’t love me or care about me. I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. It felt like it was me v.s. God.
All of that being said, after months of hard work and weight restoration, God has been so so faithful to heal me and restore me. My heart rate and weight are medically stable. My GI pain and IBS distress is much more manageable (this is due to my amazing RD, Reba Sloan. Thank you Reba!!) I rarely experience early satiety anymore. My chest pain and mini-panic attacks have vanished from my body. I have energy to live, function, laugh, and love. I’m not afraid to eat. I now have the ability to concentrate and learn more than ever before. My depression and anxiety are getting better each day and I am confident that my sleeping patterns will return to normal eventually as well. I am no longer isolated or disengaged; I love spending time with people. I know that God never left me, that he was listening to every pray I prayed and that he collected every tear I cried. He help me in his arms and never let me go even when I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. I know that my purpose is to love God and love other people. I also think that God allowed me to go through this suffering so that I may be able to offer hope to other people who are going through the same thing.
It is important to note that I didn’t get to this point in recovery over night. It took a lot of pain, tears, praying, therapy, and wrestling with God to get to where I am today. If I am being brutally honest, I still have a lot more pain, tears to cry, therapy, & wrestling with God until I am fully recovered. This can be overwhelming at times, but I know that with God nothing is impossible. I am learning that I have to take recovery one day at a time. I am confident that I will be fully recovered one day and that God will finish His work in me.
**I am not writing this to scare anyone and I am not writing it for attention. I am writing in hopes that someone will read this and realize that they aren’t on the right path before it’s too late. If sharing my story can save one person from suffering from an eating disorder its worth it. This could be someone’s wake up call. Restriction isn’t worth it.
Spending thousands of dollars on therapy, medical treatment, and nutritional treatment isn’t worth it.
Being at war with food and your body isn’t worth it.
Fearing food isn’t worth it.
Isolation isn’t worth it.
Being Skinny isn’t worth it.
Being 10 or even 5 pounds lighter isn’t worth it.
You are worth more than you can possibly imagine. God’s thoughts about you outweigh the number of grains of sand on the beach.