Friday, February 18, 2011

My Independence Day!

{This is a lengthy...personal post...so if you have no interest in my life and struggles and how far I've come, be warned...if you care...then you should read this.}

CONGRATULATIONS SELF....TODAY IS YOUR INDEPENDENCE DAY!

{I am seriously sitting here with tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face!}

Today I am declaring my independence from a very long and trying battle with bulimia or 'Ed' (eating disorder).  I am ONE year free from self induced purging!  I have worked so hard and it has been so tough.
To say this is a huge milestone is an understatement.

I'm going to go back to 4 years ago so you can all see the journey I've had.

Four years ago this past January I received a phone call and it went something like this.

Me:  "Hello?"
Kamille (my dear friend) : "Are you making yourself throw up everyday?"
Me:  "Huh?"
Kamille:  "Tell me are you?"
Me: "Why?"
Kamille: "Just tell me!"
Me: "you tell me why you would ask that."
Kamille: "Because last night Clint and I went to the temple and all I could think about was  you and that something was wrong. We came home and I went to bed and I had a dream about you.  I was calling and calling you and you didn't answer so I went over to your house and your mom was there and answered the door.  I asked where you were and she said 'Kandis can't talk to you right now, we found her on the floor passed out cause she's been making herself throw up everything.'  So tell me are you?"
Me: "I don't have a problem."
Kamille: "are you?"
Me: "Maybe"
Kamille: "you need to stop"
Me:  "I don't want to, and I can stop anytime."
Kamille: "I'm going to tell Dave."
Me: "he already knows" (this was a lie)
Kamille: "then I'm going to tell your mom"
this is when panic hit, I couldn't lie about my mom knowing because she would know my mom wouldn't be okay with it.
Me: "If you tell my mom I'll hate you."
Kamille: "well I'd rather you hate me, then you die."
Kamille:  "I'll give you till Monday to decide what you're going to do, then I'm telling" (this was a Saturday morning.)

I was so mad at her for putting me in this spot.  I didn't want anyone to know, especially family.

Monday came and I asked her not to tell, but I would talk to my bishop about it.

Meanwhile Dave and I had been planning a cruise and I was really excited about it.  I had a moment on this Monday when I thought. "I can eat whatever I want and throw it up."
This is when I KNEW I had a problem.
Up to that moment I don't remember thinking "I'm going to eat this and throw it up."  This was the first time I had it planned out.  This scared me.  This is when I knew this was a problem.

Tuesday came and I was at YW when the bishop came up to me and asked if I were okay (he didn't know anything.)  I asked him if we could talk.  So we went into his office and I ended up telling him about how I was feeling about food and weight, and how the conversation went with my friend, and that I might just have a problem.  He gave me a number to call so I could get help.

I told Kamille about my visit.  But that wasn't good enough for her.  She called Dr. Laura. Yes THE Dr. Laura.  Dr Laura told her that it didn't matter that I was a grown women, I was killing myself and she needed to tell my mother.  And that I needed help.  Kamille called my mom.  I felt so betrayed.
Now I owe her my life.

The next week I called the number I received from my Bishop and made an appointment with some lady named Michelle.

I was scared to death to talk to someone about it.  I just knew that when I walked into there she would look at me and think "you need an eating disorder, you aren't that skinny....you could lose a few pounds." or "You don't look like you have an eating disorder."  or "you are really sick and we are going to have to take you away from your family for 3 months and you'll be in a center with others like you."  All three of those thoughts scared me.  
But I went to the appointment. 

When I arrived at my appointment I thought "I'm not going to share anything."  But Michelle made it so easy to talk.  She told me at this appointment "You have bulimia." I told her
"I don't think I do."
She let me believe that.  But told me I should come back.
She gave me two books to read.
I read one begrudgingly as a "homework" because I'm a people pleaser and that's what I do.  But I still was okay not getting better.  
The book I read was actually really great.  It's called 'Life without Ed."
I related to the girl in the book.  
That scared me.  Maybe I really had a problem.

I would continue to see Michelle she told me that this path to recovery was hard but I could do hard things.  Oh boy was she right!!

My eating disorder had overtaken my life where I wasn't living for me I was living to impress the world around me.  To be liked by everyone..even those I would never meet.  
When I would go to the mall I would buy Elle lunch but I couldn't eat even though I was starving because people would see me and think "why is that fatty eating that?!".
I would go into a store and was afraid that everyone in that store would say or think "she is much to big to be shopping in this store."  
I wouldn't buy clothes because the tag said 'large' and if I bought the 'large' label tag it was admitting that I was large.
Ed would go every where with me.  He was at every family function and every life event.  Church was the worst.  Ed always had me comparing myself to all these other beautiful, crafty, perfect women.  And I wasn't good enough.  
But when I purged or didn't eat....I was better then them, I had more control...more then them.

I started going to a group therapy for others who had eating disorders and the first time I went I was so worried that I would walk into the room and I wouldn't look like any of those women.  I was stunned when I got there and I saw the variety of women who was in this group.  99% of the women you would never look at and think "she has an eating disorder".  It taught me that eating disorders have NO prejudice and no limitations...anyone can be affected by it.

Over the next three years I discovered why in fact I had an eating disorder.  As most eating disorders are not about being thin, or food as most may think.  Eating disorders start because of something deeper.  A lot of eating disorders start because of childhood abuse.  I am grateful that my eating disorder wasn't because of abuse as I was a loved child and lived a charmed life.  
I learned that I had a much different reason for the reason I battled so long with an eating disorder.  

A lot of events lead up to why I started engaging in eating disorder behaviors that ultimately turned into a full fledged eating disorder.  The last being when I was in high school I was told by a teacher that the reason I didn't make a specific dance team was because I am short, and because that my weight really shows.  I loved dancing and I NEVER wanted to not be able to do something I loved because of the way I looked.  
After that the battle began.  But she was just the final straw.  There was things prior that began to tear open the hole of hurt that later the eating disorder would attempt to fill.

I learned that I always wanted people to praise me and like me.  I needed positive affirmation.  I wanted those who I would never meet to like me, just in case one day I ran into them.  I always had to dress the best and have the best makeup and best hair.  I needed to be the most witty and the most friendly.  I had to be the best.  This need for perfection and need for praise was a strong basis for my eating disorder.  Ed made me feel that he could make me perfect..he was perfection.  

When I wanted to get pregnant with Ava I knew that God wouldn't give me another child while I abused my body so badly.  So I began to take treatment more seriously.  Although I kept in my mind "after I have a baby I can go back to the way things were to lose the weight again."

After years of trying to have another baby and much money spent on fertility treatments we were finally pregnant.  I promised myself I wouldn't purge..that I would be healthy for this baby.

After Ava was born it was hard again.  I engaged again and again in the eating disorder, but the difference was I hated that I was doing it.  It made me feel bad. I just couldn't stop. The eating disorder took a turn though it no longer was telling me "you are doing this so you can be better then everyone."  It was telling me "you are nothing."  I got a lot of "you see you're a failure you gave in."
I began to stop living.  I would go through the motions, but I was afraid to use my talents, because I was afraid that people would judge me.  So I would dream of all the things I would do if I knew nobody would judge me. 
And I dreamed and dreamed and dreamed.  But I would never be free from this eating disorder because I was nothing...I was a failure, because I wasn't thin, I wasn't the perfect mom and not everyone liked me.

Then a turning point happened.  I had served in the Young Womens in my ward for YEARS.  We are talking 4 years in this ward and 3 1/2 in the previous ward.  I knew nothing but the YW's.  Dave and I were called to work with the Young Single Adults. I was devastated.  It must be because I have an eating disorder that Lord wouldn't let me work with the YW's any more.  He was punishing me.  About 2 months leading up to this release I hadn't engaged in eating disorder behaviors.  Now I had a major set back and had many episodes of engaging.  
Then the healing really began.  The 3 years of treatment clicked.  I learned that I wanted to live.  
I learned that it's okay that not everyone has to like me, or approve of me.  It's okay to fail sometimes, it's okay to shine.  It's okay to be me.  

There were many times in my life that I felt that I was God's one mistake.  That he made everything perfect in his eyes..but he failed with me.  How could he create someone who hated herself how could he love me when I hated myself so much?  I began to realize that all along God was trying to tell me that I was perfect to him.  But I needed to accept that.

 This is when I decided to start my passion for photography and put myself out there. I decided that it doesn't matter if not everyone loves it, but I love it..and that God gave me this talent to develop and share.  I stopped always worrying what others may think of me, but what God thinks of me.
I started to become the best me I could be.

I have now realized that I haven't gone through this trial for me, but to help others.
I am so excited to start a program that will reach out to women and teens that will teach them to love the genes that they were given.  To boost their self esteem.  I KNOW this is why I have gone through this trial.

I wrapped up my last session with Michelle who I respect and love so much and she asked me "So what are you going to do now?"
After a brief thought I said "I'm going to live."
I'm not going to worry about looking like a Sports Illustrated model in a swim suit.  I'm not going to worry about what the teenage girl working at the store in the mall thinks of me.  Instead I am going to be the best me I can be.  I'm going to teach my girls that God doesn't make mistakes.  That the 'body flaws' that we see are his way of making us different.  I'm going to reach out to those who are struggling with their own body image issues and their own feelings of inadequacy and help them to know they are perfectly perfect because the worlds jeans don't have to fit our genes.  

I'm going to live.
So today I have claimed my independence from a long LONG battle from a nasty thing I call Ed.  I NO longer have an eating disorder. I am RECOVERED from an eating disorder and I am free!

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder it is not something to take lightly, they need help.  It is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation and we need to acknowledge it and help them through it. 

I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for a few wonderful people who helped me through the darkest hours.
Kamille, for making me GET help!
Dave, for being by my side the entire time.
My parents for knowing not to judge.
My girls for giving me strength 
Michelle Workman my fabulous therapist who helped me all the way.
Meagan my sister in recovery.
Bishop Greer and Bishop Winder for support.
And for my Savior Jesus Christ for being my guide.

Although I know that there might be bumps in the road and temptation I know how to deal with it...I know I can...BECAUSE I CAN DO HARD THINGS!

HELLO LIFE!
HELLO INDEPENDENCE!

XOXO



13 comments:

Mary Ann Carlile said...

Congratulations, Kandis. That is awesome. I know it's been a long road!
You know, I have been very hard on myself my entire life with self-image, and then I turned 30 and things are starting to change...slowly. Maybe 30 is the magical number?! I know you still have a few more months to go until 30 though;)
Congrats again!

Dustin and Erika said...

Great, honest post. You deserve to be happy and to be free from all of this! And you're right, now you can go out and help others who are going through what you had to endure and overcome. Luv you!!

The Barnum Family said...

Thank you for sharing this. So many women and girls out there need to hear from you. Congratulations on being a whole year purge free. It is an amazing accomplishment! You deserve to be happy and to celebrate life.

Amanda said...

Kandis,
You have always been wonderful in my eyes. You are a strong and vibrant woman, I've known that from the time you were one of MY YW. I'm so happy that you are accomplishing your dreams.

Sarah said...

Oh goodness Kandis. I just love you to pieces. Love you! I'm so proud of you and I'm glad you have found freedome.

xoxo

Amber said...

I know you don't know me- My friend Michelle has your blog on her blog roll. I have always enjoyed reading your posts. This one is really deep. Thanks for being so honest. Weight issues have affected me, but not to that far. I've tried it a few times- but decided that it wasn't worth it. Weight is such a hard thing to overcome. I wish you the best & I hope that you don't mind me checking and reading your blog.

mh said...

Happy 1 year! Way to go Kandis! =) This is a hard thing to overcome, and I am so proud of you, and so happy for you that you have gone a year. Thank you for sharing your personal story for the rest of us. It will help others.
I remember the dance thing, and it made me mad when I heard about it in high school. You rock! Keep it up.
Marintha

Amanda said...

Congratulations, what a great accomplishment! I haven't seen you in a really long time but I know the Kandis I remember was always a beautiful woman inside and out!

Jen said...

You AMAZE me!!! Congrats on the 1 year, here's to many more ahead.

xoxo

Kristen said...

Kandis,

I clicked your profile off the retreat blog page and came across your blog. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of us could put ourselves out there and share what we've been through so we can help others along the path of life? It is wonderful to read your testimony of the savior, and see you overcome such a hard challenge in your life. You inspire me in more ways than one. I like you even more and can't wait to meet you next week. i have learned in the last two years that I can do hard things too! Thanks for sharing! xoxo Kristen

Jess said...

Wow! Kandis, that speaks to me so much! Although I don't have an ED I do have struggles. ... Just wow!
Btw You are BEAUTIFUL! Congrats on overcoming this!
You are an inspiration to me! We definitely met on purpose:)

Jenny said...

Kandis...I applaude you! I am soooo glad that your friend worried about you... I'm soooo glad that you learned to not worry about what others think of you... And I'm soooo glad you decided to put yourself and your beautiful photography out there! Now, not only is your photography an inspiration, but your story is too! Congrats on "LIVING" for the past year and I know you will continue for years to come!

Kendra said...

Congratulations Kandis! I just want you to know how inspiring you are. You have overcome! I thank God for your strength, your beauty and your talent. I see your photos come up on my newsfeed, and I click it every single time. I love your images, and I am so thankful that you had the courage to push Ed out of your life and pursue your talents! Keep rockin' it girl!