Welcome to my blog! I want to start off by introducing myself. I’m Lindsey. I started this blog in hopes of sharing my story with others who are suffering from mental illnesses. WHAT? Yeah, I know, people don’t talk about mental illness. That’s crazy talk, it’s all in their head, you choose how you feel, etc. But the fact is; mental illness is more common than you think. My story deals more specifically with eating disorders and anxiety, and my ongoing recovery from an eating disorder. Through my recovery, I have met so many amazing souls, and the one thing we all seemed to have in common is SECRECY. My eating disorder, my secret…if people know, what will they do? Judge me. Laugh at me. Think I’m stupid. Shame me. Not take me seriously. Distance themselves from me. Talk about me behind my back. Love me less, or, not at all. All of those things are legitimate fears a person has if they have a secret. I mean, there’s a reason why it’s a secret! Here is the thing though- secrets keep you sick. They absolutely do. That is why I’m choosing to speak out. My eating disorder does not define me. I am so much more than a diagnosis. I want to help break the stigma of mental illness. I want to help girls and boys stop shaming their bodies, and each others. I want people to know and believe they are fearfully and wonderfully made.
So I speak up. And I take away the power of my secrets.
I’ve struggled from disordered eating since I was a teenager. I played competitive sports growing up and was also a college athlete. I did not receive any form of help for my eating disorder until I was 26. TWENTY-SIX. There are a hundred reasons why, but I won’t go into them. All I know is that 10 plus years was too long to not have help. By the time I started outpatient therapy, my disordered eating and exercising habits were so deeply ingrained in me, I didn’t know there was life outside them. The very first dietician I saw, I immediately hated, and found another. Seven months later after quite some time in outpatient treatment and weeks in residential, I found myself back inside that woman’s office because my current dietician took maternity leave. I will never forget what happened next.
The dietician took a long look at me. “If someone had told me that I’d see you again in my office, I wouldn’t have believed them. When I met you months ago, you weren’t really there. I could see it in your eyes; you were so lost. And now you’re sitting here, and your eyes look alive now. I can’t believe it.”
It was in that moment I realized eating disorders take everything. Mine had taken my identity, the life in my eyes, my voice. My eating disorder had taken my life while still leaving my body physically here on this earth. Life with an eating disorder isn’t living, it’s existing. I know that to be true with every cell of my body because I spent so much time drifting through life. It breaks my heart. I regret it. I have little to no memory of what others thought were the best times of my life. I was there, but it was just my shell. I had myself fooled, and everyone else.
I checked myself into residential treatment when I was 26. I was diagnosed with EDNOS- Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Basically, people like me didn’t fall into the box of strictly anorexic or bulimic from the diagnostic manual THAT WAS CREATED TO BE USED TO BILL INSURANCE COMPANIES. I spent the first year or so of my recovery feeling like I failed- my eating disorder didn’t even really have a name. It was a category. I used EDNOS as the blanket that was thrown over my behaviors that weren’t “bad enough” to be diagnosed with what society is familiar with. I discharged from residential with a whole new outlook on life, but it wasn’t long before I relapsed completely. It takes more than 7 weeks of residential or 9 months of therapy to unlearn things you’ve been doing your entire teenage and adult life.
I could go on about the chapter of relapse in my life, but honestly, who wants to read a depressing post like that? I spent 4 months in various levels of care, and was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. My refusal to gain weight, see myself rationally, or be in a good state of health took its toll. February 14 will mark 2 years of me being intensive treatment free. I am not eating disorder or anxiety free, but I am more solid in recovery than I ever imagined possible. I call this freedom “life in color” because that’s really the best way I know how to describe it. Life controlled by my eating disorder was black and white, with no passion or sparkle. Life in color…is just that. Things have meaning, I have deep relationships, I have found things I really love, and I am happy.
So, my blog. Beast Mode. Name courtesy of my brother, who told me, “you want to name it something people will remember!” I hope that by being vulnerable and authentic, I can show others that it is OK to be your true self. It is OK to be a little bit broken and have problems. It is OK to not just share your highs in life, but your lows too. Not everyone that knows me has an idea of what I’ve been through, and maybe you’re one of those people learning about it for the first time. I am no longer ashamed of my past and I speak up, because in that, my secrets lose power. There is also such a need for HOPE in the recovery community. I want to show hope. Recovery is MESSY. But it is possible, and people who are suffering deserve to know that.