My name is Mariah and I am recovering from an eating disorder. I don’t categorize myself as a bulimic, an anorexic, a binge eater, etc. To me there is no point. The struggle and suffering each eating disorder survivor goes through is enough. This cannot be categorized. Everyone’s stories is different and unique, just like these individual people.
If you knew me in the past, I now am very different. Hitting my personal rock bottom and having to climb my way back up has been so challenging. Faith, determination, and great support has gotten me where I am.
My Story Is Unique… It Is Me
I feel extremely vulnerable writing this, but I also realize how much my eating disorder has taken away from me. With me telling my story, I am not only exposing my inner-struggle, but also the HORRENDOUS mental illness known as an eating disorder or “ED.” I’m hoping my story can help the loved ones, friends, and other people struggling with this disease. If my story can help that’s all that matters to me!
Treatment lasted all day, 5 days a week. I ended up taking leave from work to fully focus on getting help. The first few weeks adjusting to my new reality were horrible. I felt like such a failure and a mess. How could I be 24 years old and already having to take medical leave from work? Looking back I am so blessed that my manager realized how much I needed help and let me take the time I needed to get back on my feet. I will forever be grateful. After about 5 months of this rigorous treatment schedule, I was weaned down to outpatient, finally able to return to work, and slowly start piecing my life back together. My New Life.
On The Road To Recovery, What Does This Even Mean?
Recovery is different for everyone. I hear from long-time ED survivors that it does get easier. I’m hopeful for this but aware that the disease never really goes away. Since I started having an eating disorder as a pre-teen, the eating disorder voice has consumed my mind. I’m glad that now some days are better than others, but I wish I could completely turn this dang voice off.
My family has struggled from eating disorders for multiple generations. Growing up I was so adamant that I WOULD NEVER HAVE AN EATING DISORDER…Oh the irony!!! When my ED doctor finally sat me down and explained how serious my illness is, it took a long time to sink in. I mean I couldn’t be that sick right? A lot of self-acceptance needed to happen, even just accepting the fact I have an eating disorder.
From the outside I looked like I had it all! A wonderful husband, doggy, good job, and I had just gotten married. Over the last few years though, my anxiety and depression increased tremendously. Social anxiety became a problem and so I isolated myself. The happy Mariah was gone, and I became a shell of a human being. At the beginning of college I started having weird health issues and my desperation for a “cure” led me to multiple doctors. I ended up becoming obsessed with losing weight. I just wanted to look good? Is that too much to ask for? The desperation for the number on my scale to go down was all-consuming.
When my family and close friends were informed about my illness, some reacted better than others. At the time, I was heartbroken that some people didn’t believe I really had a problem!!! To the outside world, I may not “stereotypically” look like someone with an eating disorder, but trust me looks can be deceiving. My long-term restriction of food caused my body to store calories. Essentially I was so malnourished my metabolism was shutting down. ED has had numerous effects on my body that I am overcoming, but during all of it ED told me I was invincible and just needed to keep pushing myself to my goal weight. ED told me if I made it to my goal weight then I finally would be happy…
My brain was working so poorly that I could barely make clear decisions. I remember being on the phone figuring out how to take leave for work and the lady asked for my social security number. I had to get off of the phone, find my SS card, and then call back with the number. Of course, if I was in my usual state of health this number would have been memorized and second-nature to me. Sometimes I would even forget my age, birthday, even my name a couple times. IT WAS SCARY!
This was just the beginning, the best is yet to come. I have faith. Recovery may be a long and twisted road, but I will battle everything that comes along the way.