I want to begin by thanking the many anxiety sisters who have responded to this blog series with statements like, “This is so me!” or “This is my story too!” Although I have been writing about my anxiety disorder for years and am quite comfortable revealing everything about that struggle, writing about my eating disorder is new and has made me feel vulnerable and naked (not my favorite state). Your supportive comments and shared stories, however, have made my discomfort worthwhile, and am so grateful to be part of this sisterhood.
To recap parts 1 & 2, in addition to anxiety, I have suffered from an emotional eating disorder for my entire adult life. Like almost every overweight woman I have ever met, I felt a lot of shame and anxiety surrounding my eating issues and allowed my life to revolve around cycles of deprivation (diets) in an attempt to “fix” myself followed by periods of overeating in response to the restriction. The result: more weight, more shame, more feelings of failure, more self-loathing. I am being painfully honest when I say that at least 75% of my energy was focused on food–what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, etc. If this isn’t obsessive thinking, then I don’t know what is! I was a prisoner to these thoughts, which added substantial anxiety to my already overflowing bucket of anxiety it seemed I was dragging around with me every single day.
Fast forward past the 30 years of diets, weight loss programs, fads, pills, shots, gross soups, grosser shakes, food combining, hypnosis, trainers, acupuncture, boot camps, nutritionists, and spas. None of that, as I’m sure you know, did anything to improve my situation. Even when I managed to get really thin, I was still in prison–still obsessive and anxiety-ridden. The only time I had any peace was when I was pregnant with my son and had severe hyperemesis (constant vomiting) for the entire 37 weeks I carried him. Since I couldn’t keep anything down but Gatorade, food was not an option. I lost 36 pounds by the end of that pregnancy, but that wasn’t the part that thrilled me: it was that I didn’t have to think about food and eating. I was free!
Alas, the pregnancy ended and I went right back to my food prison, where I stayed until August of 2013, which is when I went to Green Mountain at Fox Run for my 46th birthday and stayed for two weeks. What happened next was life-altering–in fact, it is not an exaggeration for me to say that Green Mountain saved my life. Because after spending time there and working with the extraordinary team that runs the program, I have gotten my life back. I am no longer in food “prison.” And I am experiencing joy in my body and in my daily life–two things which had not been a part of my world before Green Mountain.
And now for some exciting news: Mags and I are teaming up with the amazing staff at Green Mountain to offer a weekend retreat (April 5-8) for women struggling with eating and anxiety. You can read more about it if you click here.
Come join us in beautiful Vermont!