Eating Disorder, Me? No Way!

by Adriana Karanec-Lewis

"I'm diagnosing you with anorexia" my psychiatrist told me. Anorexia I thought to myself. Me? No way, uh uh, no how. Sure I count my calories everyday, sure I exercise everyday, sure I always know what I weigh, sure I cut out processed sugar and alcohol from my diet, sure I get anxious when I am at a party or a restaurant, and sure I only use recipes that show the calorie count per serving. Yes my BMI is extremely low and I have no energy throughout the day but c'mon that doesn't mean I have an eating disorder. When I look at myself in the mirror I don't "see" an anorexic woman. I see someone who still has weight to lose in certain areas and could improve her appearance. But isn't that what most women think about themselves anyway? Don't all women want to be a single size digit and see double digits on the scale? Oh wait a minute, not all women are like that?

After my diagnosis it was time for me to face the hard truth. Just because I seem to not see myself as anorexic and just because no one in my circle of friends/family/acquaintances has ever come up to me and told me they are worried about my eating and my appearance does not mean I do not struggle with a disorder. After researching and talking to my therapists (yes, that is therapists plural) I realized that an eating disorder does not have one specific look. I may look like someone who is just lucky enough to be skinny but my behavior tells me otherwise. What started out as me wanting to lose weight after my third and final child soon became an issue of control. Not only do I have an eating disorder but I was diagnosed with post partum as well and so my eating habits became about being able to control one aspect of my life. I am a mother and wife and in charge of our household which as many know can be exhausting, daunting, stressful, emotional etc. So I used my exercise and eating as a way to feel in control of my life and I let it get out of hand. I deal with nightly sweats, have a hard time controlling my bladder, experience panic attacks when out in public, binge eat a few times a month to satisfy my sweet tooth that I suppress, and obsess over my eating throughout the day. You can imagine how this greatly interferes with my life as a mom and wife. I have very little energy to interact with my children, feel embarrassed around my husband, and choose to stay home most of the time instead of being social.

However, none of these has made me worry about myself or made me think that I needed to somehow get help and start recovering. What did cause me to finally seek help is when I almost passed out at work in front of a large group of children. I worked at an elementary school and this happened when I was helping in the cafeteria shortly after Halloween. When a co-worker came to my rescue and drove me home that was the very first time I admitted out loud to someone that I had a disorder. From that day on I tried to eat more protein and reach a higher number of calories than I normally did. I also started talking to my therapist about it, looked for support groups, and even looked into outpatient programs. The mom in me said there was no way I could do outpatient and leave me children behind. But in order to be a mom I knew I had to do something. My children are still young and I do not want to leave them motherless. They are my everything and I knew I had to somehow start accepting help. This summer I started equine therapy which I love more than sitting in an office rehashing my day with someone who may have an understanding of my disorder but can't really "get me." Working with horses puts me at ease and peace. I can whisper to them whatever is on my mind without judgement. They have a calming effect on me. For me this is a start and though I haven't changed much of my behavior I am slowly starting my own recovery process. In mid-August I came clean with my older two children as my husband felt they needed to understand as best they can what mom is going through. It has always been about my children and my road to recovery is for them. I could not imagine being gone from their life and not hearing 'I love you mom" anymore. As hard as recovery is and as much as I refuse help at times I know in my head and heart I have to continue on this recovery journey. People who suffer from any type of eating disorder must find that one thing in their life that is worth them living for and getting better for.
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