This is a hard topic for me, but one I am very open to discuss. Today, November 9th, 2019, was not going to be the day that I wrote about this, but today I saw a woman share her story and it hit me hard.
Mary Cain, a runner (and a really good one at that), shared her experience with Nike and how she underwent severe pressure to lose weight in order to compete. Her story hit me because my college coach asked me to lose weight…. it caused a downward spiral….
Hearing her story today made me feel as though I wasn’t alone. I have not been naive, in thinking that others hadn’t experienced what I did, BUT, hearing someone like Mary share it, THAT is what causes change.
So today I shared on my ‘Facebook’ page something I have never shared before (See it Here). I shared that my eating disorder started with 1 coach, saying 1 simple statement and that placed just 1 thought in my head….. ‘I wasn’t good enough’.
From that moment on, I strived to be better. When I started losing weight and receiving praise, I kept at it. Then I started receiving more and more praise, so what did I do? I kept feeding into the desire to perform and be thin, and to be accepted.
I remember days when I was so focused on making sure I felt light at practice that I would literally puke until there was nothing left inside me. I was so incredibly dehydrated but survived on energy pills to get through our hours of practice.
Prepping for a meet was terrible. You see, I was a Heptathlete. We trained several hours each day because we we had to train for 7 events. 100 M Hurdles, 200 M Run, Long Jump, High Jump, Javelin, Shot put, 800 M Run…… Our meets were 2 days long, then the rest of the event was after. So often I would compete in another event or two during the regular meet.
The day before a meet, I would binge on everything I could. Depending on where the meet was, we would either eat at a buffet during the events or I would have access to the extensive dorm food….. I would binge until my belly hurt…..but at the same time, I was ingesting full packages of laxatives prior to my meal (you know, the cheap ones you get at the dollar store…), to then purge everything out prior to bed….. BUT, that isn’t even the worse of it. Because I had ingested so many laxatives, I would be up all night on the toilet…. All night…..
The day of the meet, I would binge and purge breakfast, then rely on energy gel to get through the meet, and only drinking Powerade.
The night after the meet, I would repeat with a binge/purge/laxative cycle.
This cycle lasted my entire Freshman year and into my Sophmore year. I was so used to the laxatives that my body needed them. The normal dose was typically 1-2 pills and to not use daily. Well, I didn’t read the directions and completely relied on laxatives for years later….
By the beginning of my sophmore year, everyone on the track team knew what I was doing. I felt so humiliated. Between my lack of energy, depression and the fact that my body was literally wasting away, I had to do something…
By the week before finals I was at a point where I had contemplated suicide. Many times I wanted to drive my truck off the road. No one would notice me gone. Or maybe if I ate all these pills, I would just fall asleep and never wake up….. So I asked my coach if I could do less events for the coming season in hopes that maybe it would help fix things. He said no. Now remember, this is the same coach that wanted me to lose weight…..
I went back to his office the next day and said “I quit’. I called my mom and asked her to bring me home. Her only hope was that I would ‘finish finals’. I did, but barely…..
I came home and continued my cycles for several years after….. and that is a whole different story to put on here…..
When I got home, I felt more safe but still had a lot of work to do. You see, Bulimia and Anorexia are addictions. There is literally chemical reactions taking place when you binge and purge and it creates an addictive cycle. This cycle is really hard to break….
Now, I am 36, I have 2 kids. Jack is 13 and Abby is 10. Jack was my wake up call (I’ll share details on that later), but having Jack opened my eyes to my selfish behavior. I was around 8 weeks pregnant with Jack when I stood in a bathroom stall at my work trying desperately to puke up the lunch I had just binged on….but I couldn’t throw up. It was in that moment that would change my life forever….Getting pregnant with Jack saved my life. My body would not let me puke anymore. And I promise you, I had my hand shoved down my throat….I have scars to prove that….but my body wouldn’t do it.
I sit here today with so much more to tell on this story, but that will have to wait. I want to leave you with this: Yes, my coach said things to me in a way that affected me negatively. He may have not realized the damage he was doing and I do forgive him for that. But I want you to realize that I am thankful for that happening to me….. dropping out of school and coming home led me to meet my now husband….and the timing was perfect. Within 3 months of meeting him and going to church, I gave my life to Christ. March 16, 2003. Now, My bulimia didn’t go away right away BUT it was the jumping off point to healing that I needed. God had a plan and that plan was for me to not compete in College Athletics anymore….. and for that, I am grateful. Things happen for a reason….and I will hold onto that blessing, forever.