Before I get into the main part of this post I just wanted to update everyone on my life. So, I am officially (well not exactly) out for summer. I had my last day of high-school the Friday before last and it was bittersweet. I have graduation on the 22nd of May so then I will actually be out for summer. Also, starting last week, I am employed as a Page at the Louisiana Legislature in the House of Representatives. So far it has been an amazing experience. I will be working for the rest of the legislative session that is until June 6th. So lots of things are happening, which is causing me to be frustrated that I cannot pay attention to my blog as much as I want to right now. I’m thankfully now able to write this post right now so, yay!
One of the most important reasons I started this blog was to reduce the shame surrounding eating disorders by sharing my story of recovery, in turn, reducing the shame I felt because of my eating disorder.
I have shared bits and pieces of my story on here through narratives of the past and present from my journey but until less than a month ago I hadn’t really summarized the whole story. It felt very overwhelming to sit down and write about everything that has happened to me surrounding my eating disorder from birth until the present. It gave me anxiety and also felt hypocritical because my story isn’t finished, but I finally asked myself: Will my story ever be finished? The concise answer to that is no, no one’s story is ever finished not even after they die.
Conquering my perfectionistic thoughts, I finally sat down to write it.
I did this partly because I had been wanting to do it to submit it to a website for them to read and partly just because I had been wanting to do it for myself. I sat down and wrote a chunk of it each day. After three days, it was finished. I felt so relieved after I finished it and proceeded to submit it to the website.
I submitted it to the website and they were going to read it. I felt relieved, but I still hadn’t released any of the shame that I felt surrounding my whole story.
No one had really heard every chapter.
I knew I wanted to present my story to a large group of people eventually, but I didn’t really feel like I was ready. I wasn’t recovered and I’m not yet a success story but after hearing McCall share her story the evening of the scale SMASH, I was inspired. I knew before I left my high-school, I had to present it to someone.
I had been moved to a freshman and sophomore PE/Health class due to being in treatment for an extended period of time and coming back having to change my schedule because of my new enrollment in online school for half of the semester. I knew they were going to be studying eating disorders in health because I had studied it my Sophomore year at St. Joseph’s Academy. I kept it in the back of my mind that I wanted to present it in front of this class of girls because I knew if I had someone do that for me when I was in my Sophomore, it would have presented me with a more positive perspective and helped me cope with my diagnosis.
As we were fixing to enter the unit on eating disorders, I spoke with my coach after class explaining to her my idea. I was so grateful that she was so willing to allow me to follow through with my wish. I just had to work out a few things with my guidance counselor and school administration before I could present. It wasn’t long before we set the date.
Before my presentation, I was terrified. In my mind, I was saying, “These girls are going to judge me so much. I shouldn’t do this. What’s the point? They aren’t going to get anything out of it. They will think I’m weird. They’ll laugh. No one’s going to care.” I quickly shushed that voice so that I could begin my presentation.
I felt like I war rambling, but I could see every eye in the room was on me. They were paying attention. I still thought they were staring at me because of how weird they thought I was, but again I had to silence that thought and continue.
At the end, my coach asked a few questions to see if she could get any of the girl’s hands to raise. They didn’t. I felt terrible for a second thinking again all of those thoughts I listed above. Then I thought to myself, at that time in my life if Senior would have stood in front of the class and did this presentation, I would have been too nervous to raise my hand. Honestly, I wouldn’t have even known what to ask.
After the class was over, I talked to my coach and she told me that she knew they were absorbing everything I said. She said that it was important for them to hear and I did a great job. She finished with, “I know they didn’t raise their hand for questions because they were too nervous and didn’t know what to ask,” validating my assumption and making me feel better.
I was proud of myself. I had finally shared my whole story with my voice in front of people. I felt amazing. I knew that I couldn’t wait to do it again. I felt a portion of the shame I had inside float away. I knew that it would be even more amazing when I could finally share the hope of a full recovery.
Until then, I will continue to share my story and all the things I have accomplished.
I encourage those suffering to open up about what you are dealing with. Eating disorders are often a taboo and people feel uncomfortable talking about them. It is up to us as a community to educate and diminish the stigma around them. I’m not saying you have to do what I did and stand up in front of classroom full of people to present your story from start to finish but just try to say out loud that you are suffering from an eating disorder. For a while, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t say the actual words. I felt ashamed.When I finally did it, I felt some of that shame float away.
Share your story for other and share your story for yourself.