It surprises me that I haven’t talked in detail about my struggle with an eating disorder with you guys. It is a pretty big part of my story but one that I am pretty far removed from. I am a completely different person but I still know it is a part of me. I think once we receive freedom in an area in our lives we kinda want to forget about the person we were before because it hurts. It hurts to think that we were capable of doing those things to ourselves and to the people around us. It’s better to just think of the “new and improved” versions of ourselves because it’s way more comfortable. I think this is what I have done over the years to kinda “save face”. I like this side of things for sure, no taunting sin/disorder plaguing me on the daily, I’m on the other side and it is comfortable here, but I don’t think I am suppose to stay here… ugh it’s hard but I think I am suppose to do more about it… I know, I know, I opened up the studio and am helping women there but I think there is supposed to be more. I think I need to be having these hard convos and taking my vulnerability to a whole new level. I need to be uncomfortable. I need to share less about the new Kirstin and refer more to the old one because so many people are there and I cannot forget. I cannot forget what God has freed me from and the challenges that took place in my life. I cannot forget what a struggle it was to choose to live every day, because that is where most people are at.
I think of this blog as kinda a rollercoaster of vulnerability. I started off vulnerable and then got lost in studio updates and makeup. I don’t want it to be serious all the time because I am not a super serious person, but I do know I started it to be real with you guys and I have kinda steered in a different direction. So here I am kinda throwing myself out there again with my story… it’s not a fun one to admit and super uncomfortable but I beginning to think super necessary…
You can read about the timeline here, but for this post I think I want to share with you guys kinda the behind the scenes stuff. The stuff no one really talks about, what takes place in the mind of a girl with an eating disorder…
When someone has an eating disorder people often focus on the physical elements of it- how skinny they are, what it is doing to their body and health, how their teeth and period are being effected, they go by what they see and not very much on what they don’t. What they don’t see is what needs the focus, the mind. The mind is 100% where the eating disorder takes place, the body is the symptom or the physical result of what is taking place in the mind, so to help the person you must help their mind.
Little backstory on myself, I struggled with anorexia, this is where you don’t really eat a lot, (many people get them confused), bulimia is where you make yourself throw up or overdose on laxatives/diet pills or both. I tampered with bulimia here and there but anorexia was definitely my go-to. It started when I was fourteen, and was a VERY slow and sneaky progression, so sneaky I didn’t even know it was happening. There were so many different components that it’s hard to zero in why it all started. Parents got divorced, moved to a different state, a lot of change, feeling out of control, all that stuff for sure. I have had a lot of family members who struggle/struggled with an eating disorder including my dad (that’s a hard one to admit). Since I was a little girl I watched a lot of the ED behaviors take place and it kinda was my normal. I know that is probably pretty weird to read but it is kinda just how it was. Binging/starvation cycles were something I witnessed daily and never put much thought to. I think this is why when I felt like my life was out of control this was my choice of dealing, again not really even knowing.
When we moved my life went from being great, with an awesome family and a ton of friends to life being not so great, broken family and no friends. I was/still am your classic bored eater so when I got home from school I would just watch TV and eat. I packed on some pounds but didn’t really notice. Times are different now but back then when you were fourteen and gained weight you really didn’t know. My parents were going through a divorce and my Dad was living up north so I had not seen him in a few months. He had my sisters and I for the weekend and made some comments when I went to eat like “are you sure you want to order that?” and “how about a salad”, I was catching on but didn’t really care. When he dropped us off at my mom’s house he pulled me aside and told me that I had gained some weight and if I wanted some weight loss tips to call him and he would help me out. It must seem crazy to read this but again this was my normal and I was not at all surprised by it. So I got home, thought about it and decided to take him up on the offer. Que bad decision one. When I called him that night he taught me how to count calories, read labels, weigh myself, and exercise. He sent me a Jane Fonda (no I am not that old, but he was 😉 ) workout tape and told me to do the workout everyday. I started with beginners and moved quickly to the advanced. And just like that in a moment’s time I was a 14-year-old dieter.
The weight I had gained over those few months instantly fell off, it wasn’t real weight to begin with, but I was on a roll and the positive attention started kick in. New friends, guys showing interest, all the questions about how I had lost the weight, I went from being no one to popular over night. I was feeling really good about myself and life. So good I didn’t want to stop.
I was staying under 1,500 calories at this point and felt like it was too much, so I cut out lunch and just stopped eating it all together. I also started working out twice a day and weighing myself everyday. This is when I started to make those decisions that affected my life for the following six years. They were small little decisions here and there that led to a full-blown eating disorder.
Now lets talk about my mind. In my mind at this point I just wanted to be pretty and fit in. Obvi every fourteen year old feels that was but I REALLY felt that way, so much so that I was willing to do whatever it took. I had never thought of myself as pretty my whole entire life. I constantly compared myself to people and basically wanted to be the exact opposite of who I was. I wanted to be short, cute (like petite and fun size 😉 ), blue eyes (even did the stupid alien looking contacts), tan skin, pin straight thin hair, and I could keep going on. I never remember thinking I was pretty growing up, but I can’t even tell you why. It was kinda one of those things where I didn’t think I was pretty but now I started to care.
So those small destructive decisions began to add up and at some point things took a crazy turn and the thinner I got, the thinner I thought I needed to be. I lost touch with reality and things got pretty dark and scary pretty fast.
Before I knew it I was eating low-calorie everything. My calorie limit was like 300 for the day and if I could rest my head on my pillow at night and know that I stayed under that I was happy with myself. A couple of other girls in my school started to be anorexic as well and we would kinda exchange tips formally and informally.
I went on pro-ana websites and spent every waking moment thinking about being thin and not eating and conspiring on how to get out of meals. I went on the scale easily 10 times a day and started eating weird low calorie food combinations like carrots and mustard and egg whites only all the time and pretzels. And tons and tons of diet coke. Like that was it everyday. If I was with people and HAD to eat for whatever reason, this is when I would make myself throw up. It was a scary vicious cycle that went on for years.
Believe it or not at this point I was president of my youth group (yes that is a thing), mentoring girls, running Sunday school, you name it, I was involved. To say I was living a double life would be a serious understatement. I had a deal worked out with God, I continued to serve and He didn’t convict me about the other stuff I was doing on the side (turns out I was just in straight up denial). It’s crazy but through all of this I was helping girls with their issues, counseling, mentoring, the whole thing and then had this other big dark secret on the side. I had become a pro at not focusing on my own issues and putting my energy into other people’s problems.
I was eighteen, getting ready to graduate, all my friends had plans and I had nothing going for me. One night, I was at youth group and started praying and was like “God I desire a closer relationship with you, but I feel like something is between us”. This is probably a joke to read but I was in THAT bad of denial. All of a sudden the eating disorder decisions I had/was making flashed before me, like four years worth, and I could no longer deny I had a problem. I walked up to my youth pastor after and told him I thought I might have a problem. From that point on things took a turn but not necessarily for the best at first…
To be continued….