Yesterday I found myself reflect on the year leading up to my 32nd birthday. The last year was a really hard one for me, but I am so grateful for it because I have learned so much about myself. I feel hopeful going into this new year. I really feel like 32 is going to be an amazing year! Dealing with the physical and mental ramifications of having a hysterectomy last April and losing all my natural hormones at age thirty was harder to come to terms with than I expected. I felt like it was the right choice when I did it and I still feel that way, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was an adjustment. I suddenly found myself feeling at least 20 years older and feeling a little let down by my body. I think that everything that I was struggling to deal with regarding this major physical adjustment is part of what lead to me lose control of the food and eating issues that I have dealt with off and on for the last 15 years or so. I was always able to “get away” with my food issues because I was able to keep myself from going too far. But the last several years had gotten harder and harder and the emotional burden was getting heavier and heavier. I think that this last year with the emotional adjustment from the surgery and the stress of being a nursing student on top of trying to be a good mother and wife and trying to do it all perfectly, finally led to me losing control of this dangerous “game” that I was playing with eating. I had gotten close to losing that control several other times but this was the first time that it took over my life. Being able to restrict my eating and to not eat at all became my coping mechanism. It brought me such calmness when it felt like everything else was just spinning around me out of control. But the calmness that it brought me had it’s price. It took over my mind; it became all that I could think about. It became hard to think about anything else when my mind was filled with constant judgmental thoughts about myself and food. I know that it was difficult for those around me that knew what was going on to see me doing what I was doing. And I am so sorry for that.
But the good news is that I was able to recognize that what I was doing was dangerous for myself and as an example to my children. I am so thankful that I had the courage to choose to get help. I have been talking with a therapist that specializes in eating disorders for the past 4 months. It has been hard work. These last four months have not been easy at all. But it is so worth all the effort. I have learned so much about myself and about how to deal with things in a healthy way. I have made a lot of progress in the last four months and I am excited about that and where I am going. Two months ago, I felt like I had lost the ability to be a positive example and to be able to make a positive impact on the world. I felt like the dreams that I had for my future were hypocritical, how could I help others be healthy when I was making this unhealthy choice? But now I feel like I have learned so much that I am now in the position to have even more impact. One of my patient’s Monday night really opened up to me while I was doing his assessment and when I was leaving the room, I thanked him for allowing me to assess him and he said to me, “No, thank you! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I didn’t realize how much I needed to talk. That really made my day. Thank you.” That made MY day. Because I have been working on my issues, I was able to be fully present in the moment and because of that, I was able to have a positive, emotional impact on someone else. Today I am so thankful for my struggles, because out of them, I have learned so many valuable things that I believe are going to help me live a more positive, rewarding, and joyful life. I know that I will always have this struggle with food, but now I know that it is not really about the food. And now I know how to answer the voice of “Ed” and how to answer those thoughts with truths.
I am happy again. I did not realize how unhappy I was before, but being on the other side, I can see how unhappy I was inside and I am so thankful to be this happy again. The other thing that has come together for me and is contributing to my happiness is that I recently was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Now to most people that wouldn’t necessarily be a happy thing but for me it is because since going gluten-free 14 days ago, my stomach aches, my headaches, and my joint pain has gone almost completely away. I was dealing with stomach pain almost every day, headaches 5-6 days a week that were so bad that it hurt to think, and hip joint pain that hurt me to walk, stand, sit or sleep. Now my stomach doesn’t hurt, my head only aches when I get hungry, and my hips only ache a little from time to time. But my doctor is trying to tweak my hormones now too so hopefully that will be the last little piece to the puzzle of putting me back to 100%. I already feel so much younger and energetic again.
When you are struggling or going through a hard time, all that you want is for it to go away. But it is in the hard times that there is the greatest potential to learn valuable lessons. I am grateful for my struggles because of the lessons that I have learned and am continuing to learn. I feel like now I have more potential to be a positive impact on the world. The difficulty of last year has come together to set me on a really good path. This is why I believe that 32 is going to be a GREAT year!!