Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guest Post - Coping with an Eating Disorder

Guest Blogger - Megan Haskins

Do I share? Do I expose myself? Let others in on my weaknesses?

Why do others deserve to know my secrets? Aren't secrets meant to be secretive?

Yes and no. Secrets can lead to sin and sin causes hurt, pain, and dark times. As I hesitate in sharing what is on my heart I remind myself that other people have secrets too - some people just aren't strong enough yet to let others in that space with them - to ask for support or a listening ear.

I've been working hard on being transparent, raw, and genuine during this difficult time. My Mom's death did not come as a surprise but one can never be fully prepared for the loss.

The past six years have been intense and hard, but I've come to learn A LOT about life, what it means to love, what it means to be secure, my faith, my marriage, and how I deal with life's issues.

How do I deal with the issues that life has presented me? Well, not well...

This may come as a shock to some of you, others may have guessed it, and a small handful of people have been on this journey with me. 

I have been in treatment since March 17th for a severe eating disorder. This disorder did not come overnight and surely wasn't something that begun March 16th. Here is my story and my prayer is that someone (if only ONE person) can find encouragement, freedom, peace, and/or strength from it. It truly began in 9th grade....

Ninth grade was a challenge. My parents were separated for about 3-4 months. It took a huge toll on my heart and it was hard for me to understand why and maintain faith. It also took me the longest time to forgive my parents for all the hurt they had caused me. I fell away from God, not relying on Him for the comfort I needed. I let it distract me at school and it rearranged my sleep habits. Eventually I began to deprive myself from food. I figured that the whole situation was my fault and if I couldn't control my parents I could at least control what I ate. I also wanted and desired attention from them...anyone. I felt so alone during this time.

Ninth grade to freshman year of college I surely played with fire and danced around eating disordered behavior. It was my freshman year of college that I eventually turned to alcohol. It seemed alcohol was all I could rely on at the time with the adjustment of moving away from home and having to make new friends. And when alcohol wasn't enough I discovered the power of the treadmill and the powerful feeling of restricting food. The mighty feeling of power was mine! I felt I had finally found my true love and confidant. 

It was my junior year that I began to feel life spinning out of control again. I was trying so hard to hold on to what God was offering me but at the same time trying to take things into my own hands. Sure enough, I spiraled downward and relapsed, having one of the worst bouts with ED (my eating disorder). I had dropped close to 50 pounds in 3 years (possibly 20 of it being necessary - the other 30 was going too far!) I restricted and ran, restricted and ran, and I wasn't a runner! I eventually made myself a runner though! 

The past ten years with this beast has not been fun (yet appearing so shiny at the time!).

I lost friendships and missed out on hundreds of normal college-aged social events. I forfeited time with family and took my husband's time and love for granted. I would have rather spent my time at the gym than with others.

December of 2012 my Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 carcinoid cancer. I was 26 and she was 53! We still had our whole lives ahead of us - together! I knew people with cancer but never thought it would strike my own family. As shocking as this was I chose not to process the information and decided to head back into my graduate program as if nothing had occurred over Christmas break. As time went on ED continued to rule my life. Instead of dealing with the emotions I would run and restrict, run and restrict, with the occasional binge and purge. I seemed to have hidden it well. When home visiting my Mom (we live 5 hours apart), as she went through her rounds of chemo, I chose to run instead of spend time with her. I was more worried about my calorie burn than her well-being. It was a horrible addiction that took away mother/daughter time!

November of 2013 I was referred to The Emily Program (an ED treatment facility here in Spokane) by my outside therapist. She was growing concerned. I didn't see why the concern because I had actually started putting on weight! Little did I know my body had shut down and, even though I wasn't eating over a thousand calories and continuing to workout daily, I began gaining weight, which only caused me to work out longer and harder. I didn't understand why and it was frustrating! 

I came home from my session with my therapist to share the referral with my husband and he immediately called to set up a tour and a Q&A with the site manager at The Emily Program. I agreed.

My husband and I returned back to our home after the holiday break and I jumped right back into my second year of graduate school. But the stress from the holidays turned into 3-4 hours at the gym! I spiraled downward and knew I was in danger (despite my current weight gain). I agreed to an intake at The Emily Program.

I have now been there since March 17th...149 days in treatment. I began with IOP (Intensive Outpatient Programming), which lasted 3 weeks. My symptoms worsened and I was then placed in PHP (Partial Hospitalization Programming) for 16 weeks. PHP was a higher level of care at 40 hours a week with the goal of symptom reduction and health stabilization. The past week was my first week back in IOP, which is only 20 hours a week. It is so discouraging and the hardest thing I have EVER, EVER gone through. They put me on an exercise restriction, which has only brought about other symptoms!! This is by far the hardest fight of my life but I could not be more grateful for the staff there. It is temporarily my home away from home - the place that holds my hope for me right now, for most days I can't even see recovery for myself. Every other day I am tempted to jump right back into what's comfortable. I'm gaining even more weight there and have put on 20 pounds since my wedding!!! The shear number on the scale makes me want ED back. I can't seem to let him go.

I had to take spring quarter off, which is why I won't finish my graduate program until December. Life has definitely been put on hold for my sanity and well-being.

My treatment was then interrupted on May 12th. It was the day after Mother's Day that I got the dreaded phone call. I had just showed up to programming and answered the phone. My Mom was gone. She had passed away. I couldn't have been in a better place when I received the news, for the staff knew exactly what to do and were God's angels that day. 

It seemed my recovery journey then started over the day I returned to Spokane from a week at home preparing mom's funeral. I was back to day one. I had relapsed the week I was home and now cannot seem to find the same motivation for a recovered life. 

I feel defeated and exhausted but find such hope in God's grace, my future, and my story I have to share. 
A big thank you to my sister for telling her story. I have encountered multiple people this past year who have struggled with ED and it's important to know that it is more common than we may think. Understand you aren't alone and please never be afraid to ask for help.

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1 comment :

  1. Megan - I cannot imagine how hard it was to write your story but I love how open and honesty you are with your struggle! I will be praying for you!!!