Eating Disorder Awareness Week :: A Mother’s Journey Through Recovery

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An eating disorder is not about weight. I repeat, an eating disorder is NOT about weight. I have been a size 00 to size 12 and all the sizes in between in my adult life and I have never been satisfied. This tells me my problem isn’t my size. It’s my thinking. A loose definition that I like is if you think about food more than you don’t, you may have a disordered relationship with eating.

I can’t remember ever feeling comfortable in my own skin. I wished I had freckles and brown eyes. I wished I were petite and had straight hair. The list goes on and on. I want to go back and tell that girl she is enough just the way she is, but I know she wouldn’t listen. Truthfully, I struggle to tell myself that even today. Recovery from an eating disorder is not linear. It’s winding. You fall and get back up over and over again.

I have been in recovery for four years. The first two years my body changed a lot. I was working at a little boutique and the well-meaning older ladies would see my distended belly and small frame and ask when I was due. I didn’t want to tell them that I had starved my self so long that I was gaining weight unevenly since I had entered treatment. This would send me into a spiral over and over and yet, I kept fighting.

I had (and still have) the support of a treatment team. This includes a psychiatrist, therapist, and dietitian; not to mention my friends and family who have stayed by my side no matter what. Here I want to note that my friends and family do not need to understand my eating disorder in order to provide me with the support I need. Validation of my feelings, accountability for the things that I ask for, and unconditional love are more than enough.

With the newfound freedom I found in recovery, I began to build a life for myself. I got married and soon got pregnant. I suffered from crippling prenatal anxiety and turned back to my old pal Ed. (“Ed” is what Jenni Schaefer calls her eating disorder in her fabulous book, Life without Ed. This book is easy to read and digest. It is frank, open, and relatable. It is something I will recommend to anyone who thinks he or she may have an eating disorder or anyone who loves someone with an eating disorder.) I turned to food for comfort and support when feeling anxious. I refused the recommended medication because “I was fine” and I continued to suffer and eat.

I am now 14 months postpartum and am finally starting to feel like myself again. I have struggled a lot with the weight that I gained and am constantly fighting Ed and the lies he tells me. The reality is, I just want to be healthy and happy so that I can raise my daughter to have a healthy relationship with herself and, likewise, others.

How do I get to a healthier version of myself without falling into the dark pit of obsession? I ask for help. I stay connected. I keep myself honest. I still see a therapist and a dietitian. I haven’t outgrown my struggles and I am not sure if or when I will. I can’t promise that the road to recovery is easy, but I can promise it is worth it.

When I am in the pits of my eating disorder, I am far from the best version of myself. I am constantly absorbed in my food diaries and my calorie counters. I am so sucked into myself I can’t be present for others. How can I give anything to any of my relationships when I am like that? How can I do my higher power’s work if I am living that way? How do I have any purpose other than to serve Ed? These are some questions to ponder if you think being stuck in an eating disorder is only hurting yourself. There is a full life waiting for you on the other side of surrender. All you have to do is push the door open ever so slightly, and the door to recovery will swing open on its own. At least that was my experience.

If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorder Association’s hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

A gift of recovery is watching how your life unfolds with dreams and desires you couldn’t have even fathomed. – Jenni Schaefer, Life Without Ed

*Please note that the remarks made in this article are based on the opinions and experiences of a person in recovery and not a professional in the field.

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English comes from a long line of Texans and even though she moved to Alabama for college in 2008, her home state has never left her heart. As a child English knew she was born to be the First Lady of the state of Texas and a mother. On November 8th, 2016 the latter of the two aspirations became a reality. Her precious daughter Penelope Grace (Poppy) is everything she dreamed of and more. Poppy's developing personality and spunk amaze English every day. Although English's husband is not the governor of Texas, he is a dream come true in his own right. Adam swept English off her feet 3 years ago. Pretty suave for a CPA, right? They have had fun learning and growing together over the years. Their fur baby, Lorelei, is a very sensitive and slightly neurotic (it's ok she is medicated) blue tick coonhound whom they love dearly. Life is full of discovery in the Boyd house as the God continues to reveal its plan for them. English lives for open mouth baby kisses and laughter with friends. Although her life is not now nor ever will be perfect, it is filled with love and that is more than she could have ever asked for.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart. You took a big risk doing that, and I hope you know it paid off!

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