a hero can save us

A Very Long Journey

Home is behind
The world ahead.
And there are many paths to tread.
Through shadow,
To the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight
Mist and shadow
Cloud and shade
All shall fade
All shall fade

WARNING: Mental health and ED content.
On this day in 2009, while living at home recuperating from having my wisdom teeth removed (and a visceral pre-dating breakup with my good friend) my Mom came in and asked if I wanted to join her at the grocery store. My reaction to her talking about food was so strong, and the fact that I had been recently triggered by some posts about anorexia online helped connected some dots, and I went on the Mayo Clinic website and confirmed that I had an extremely severe eating disorder. I called my doctor and found out the medical establishment only helps people under 18 when they're starving to death. The other 80-90% of people with EDs are largely untreated or ignored.
Seven years later after therapy and mindset work, the eating disordered voice is gone, I understand nutrition and meal planning, and I am just about ready to start weight training with a course from a friend in Calgary. (It's often not safe to try to lose weight with an eating disordered mind, contrary to everyone's advice.) A lot has changed about who I am in that time, but while the healing is still ongoing, I now tell people the ED is gone - and my specialist therapist agrees with me on this.
But the crux of the matter is that if you know someone my size - over 300 pounds - chances are excellent they had the same eating disorder. It's called Binge Eating Disorder, and it's exactly like bulimia except without the purging behaviour. (I could never make myself throw up.)
Some of my good friends have asked me what it's like. It's a little like split personality disorder, in that a voice in your head that sounds very much like you but is abusive and hateful towards you is very vocal, day in and day out. It's a bit like what you already know about EDs - a good 30% or more of my mind in any given day was preoccupied with food or weight. It's hard to be with other people because social = food, and I'd try to hide how much I was eating when I was out - and when I was alone, bored, tired, or stressed it was worse. It started right when I hit puberty.
If you've never been grossly overweight, you've never experienced the stigma that society attaches either. I've had clients that I know for a fact didn't book me as their wedding photographer because I was obese. People who do not experience mental illness believe you've made bad choices. Choices are only informed by the mind, and when your brain is broken (along with your spirit) poor choices are not only inevitable but extremely difficult to fix.
Saskatchewan's dark age health care is apalling, and it wasn't until I moved to Edmonton that I got any real help from the medical world. I actually had a great doctor in Saskatoon who was horrified she couldn't get me any help even after spending quite a bit of time researching for me (because I was the most severe case she'd ever seen and my life was in danger.)
I finally got help from a really excellent dietician, found a specialist therapist who deals with EDs and understood my situation the moment I walked in, and more.
The mindset work I did both with my therapist and with the business education in Calgary, strangely, is what helped me find freedom. I've already helped a handful of other people who had BED, and I'm always willing to talk to you if you or a friend or family member is struggling with it.
Today I clicked on Facebook memories. I made this status shortly after I found out. I remember what it felt like. Mountains I'd never climb. But I'm here today to tell you that while many mental health issues are deemed incurable, I have to say, that depends. It depends on how fiercely you fight. It depends on whether there are people in your life you can trust to help you. It depends on a lot of time spent sewing up holes in your soul.
But it's not impossible, and I'm living proof. I went off my SSRI medication last Fall and I have been a happy and functioning person for a completely normal ratio of the time since. If you don't know what normal is, find a good therapist.
And please don't embrace your depression, ED, or quite a few other mental health conditions as permanent and stop working to fix them. Your will is powerful, even when the mind is broken. You can overcome most things with medication, therapy, and just working harder at yourself than everyone else.
Thanks to everyone who's been on this journey with me, and encouragement to everyone I know on their own journeys. There's better things ahead than any we leave behind.

  • Current Location: Edmonton
  • Current Mood: Longing
  • Current Music: Lord of the Rings