The decade of my eating disorder, and of my recovery

I love beginnings, but endings are not my thing.

When leaving a party, I’m a big fan of the Irish goodbye (aka sneaking out without telling anyone.) I don’t like the awkward hugs, the cheek kisses, the feeling that a good time is over. When writing, I never have a problem with the opening sentence, but the last one, never seems right.

The end of the year – and in this case a decade too – is no different. I never want to think about a year ending, just the fact that a new one is beginning. It’s easier. Simpler.

This New Year’s Day when sitting down to write my 2020 goals – and this post – I faltered (that’s why it’s 16 days later and you’re only seeing it now). No matter what, I felt like I had to reflect, not just look forward. This decade, the one we just left, is the decade when my eating disorder began, ran its ugly course and finally lost in a battle for my recovery. This decade my family went through A LOT. This decade contains my best and worst days, my worst and fondest memories. This decade I chose my profession and my husband. I grew up. It’s hard to describe how much I’ve changed since 2010, how much I’ve learned, experienced, done and written (SO MANY WORD DOCUMENTS).

Despite being a journalist, finding words to describe the past 10 years is a challenge. Since photos are worth 1,000 words…I thought we’d do it that way.

2010: After a rough end to middle school, by the start of 10th grade, high school was finally going well. I was loving chemistry, playing soccer, dancing every day and for the first time experiencing life as an only child with all three brothers away at school. It was strangely quiet and I missed my brothers more than anything. At the end of 2010 I started running, I lost weight. I got attention for it.
2011: I was restricting A LOT at this point. I’d put everyone in my house on a USDA supertracker meal plan (my dad was not pleased). I was baking cookies every week, but refusing to eat any. I was a three season runner and just weeks away from my first 4 stress fractures.
2012: I’m smiling (because my cousins are awesome), but at this point after being unable to run or dance for four months because of stress fractures, bulimia had fully set in. I had no idea that I couldn’t control it. I thought I was just compensating for…I wasn’t sure, but it was fine, it was all fine. My multiple workouts a day, binges, purges…it was all fine in my mind as I entered my senior year of high school.
2013: Cheesing with my best friend..but as a new high school graduate, about to head off to college, I knew I had a problem. I had decided to study nutritional sciences and in my very first textbook I turned to the page on bulimia nervosa and cried. The book was describing me exactly. One week into school I would be officially diagnosed with my fifth stress fracture and bulimia nervosa. I told my parents and a few close friends for the first time. I quit track and entered treatment at UConn. Five academic classes and five medical appointments a week, pretty good start.
2014: I started running again, this time for many more than 3.1 miles. I ran my first half marathon and relapsed again and again including another fracture. I was in and out of different therapies and grappling with crippling anxiety – something many people with eating disorders experience as they loosen their control over food. My body felt foreign and weird, but I had made wonderful friends (and met my future husband) who became incredible supports. My parents and I were figuring out this new life where ED couldn’t be ignored.
2015: I made it 8 months (my longest span without relapsing at that point), but the relapses after felt worse. I spent the summer away from home, living with a friend, gaining some independence, fighting for control over panic attacks and purges. I missed my brothers. ED was a force to be reckoned with, but in the fall I finally found the therapist who would make all the difference for me. I ran my first full marathon and for the first time respected my body’s abilities and strength.
2016: I started dating Dillon (for the second time), but took more coupley photos with my brother. I was finally open and honest with my family and friends about where I was in recovery, and where I was not. I could now logic my way out of most ED thoughts. I relapsed less often and for shorter periods of time. I ran my second full marathon, became an Aunt, decided I did want to be a dietitian after all and started this blog!
2017: My love for these little guys EXPLODED, and my love for myself grew. Stress and anxiety brought me some horrific stomach pain and my first colonoscopy showed that bulimia had indeed left its mark. I graduated from college, moved to Maryland, ran a marathon while injured and finally decided that physical therapy was worth it. In October, I had my very last relapse to date.
2018: Finally, after years, I found recovery for real. I ran two marathons and four half marathons with faster times and not a single stress fracture. I became a Registered Dietitian and started helping others find recovery too. I moved back to Connecticut, came to terms with the fact that bulimia may be gone but IBS was here to stay and started believing that I was beautiful, capable and free of ED for the first time.
2019: The year of YES! I launched my private practice (Werth Your While Nutrition) and my podcast (Life with ED, the podcast). I came to fully believe that a complete recovery is possible and made it a second year without a relapse. I found so much joy in watching my patients find this sort of recovery too. My best friend, brother and I got married. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked and at the same time have more energy and confidence than ever.

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