"I'll be right back- I'm just going to run to the gas station," I said to my family right after eating our Christmas dinner.
But I didn't go to the gas station. I went to my house.
Slammed the door behind me, rushed to the bathroom, and turned the shower on.
But I wasn't taking a shower.
I made myself sick.
I don't know how my eating disorder started. I can't pin point a certain day, person, or event that triggered the first time I decided to make myself sick. Perhaps, it was a boy. A hard day at school. Or A TV show. I'm not truly sure. In fact, a lot of that time period is a blur for me. I was getting thin and people were noticing. I liked the attention, but the reality was I was sick. Really sick.
And I didn't want anyone to know my secret. My secret hiding in the bathroom. My key to ....happiness? No. My key to...losing weight? Yes. But it wasn't a good key. It was an awful key that unlocked a horrible side of myself.
I can't say I regret doing it because I am a stronger person for going through it, living through it, and conquering the battle of scale v. Ashley. Living in regret never lets you move forward- because you are living in the unchangeable past. For awhile, I was definitely ashamed. But now I believe sharing my story might help other people. Might raise awareness to a SERIOUS issue that literally tears apart your body. Literally, the inside and outside of you is destroyed by starving yourself and making yourself sick. Emotionally and physically you are weak. You aren't healthy. You are dying, to be thin.
I remember being a senior in high school. We had just got back from a cheerleading trip and my throat was starting to hurt. I coughed up blood. That was the first time I realized how serious my illness had became.
Wow, I'm literally killing myself.
What if I die?
What if I die young? My children won't have a mother if I continue this and have children? All because I'm too selfish to live a healthy lifestyle.
Each and every time I make myself sick, I'm taking a day off my life. And so I told myself I was done living this way. I would get better. And going away to college, I'd surely get busted puking in a dorm room. No one can be that sick, that often.
I was taking back control of my life.
It was so hard, especially after the first Christmas. I would always binge after eating such heavy meals. There would be times when no one was home and I would eat an ENTIRE frozen pizza. Only to rush to the bathroom.
In less than a year, I had gone from 225 lbs to 159 lbs. My hip bones were sticking out. My hair was thinning. I was always cold and my energy was always low. That's where the diet pills came in. The Stackers gave me the energy I was missing from food. I was a mess. Plain and simple.
It's all about control. You think you are in control when you have an eating disorder. But you aren't. The disease controls your every thought, every move, and every decision. I would constantly think about my next meal. And plan an escape route to the bathroom. I'd make myself sick at school, work, friends house, and my own home. I didn't have a problem eating, as long as I made it come back up.
I did make myself sick a few times in college. I remember one day specifically, I'd ate a lot and I hated how I felt. I was having a rough day and pulled out a plastic bag. Made myself sick and then ran down the hallway to throw it away in the community trash can. I felt so embarrassed. I had done so well, and I just threw it all away. For what? One pound? If that?
But that's the last time I can remember doing it, so I'll be celebrating five years in remission of my eating disorder.
Do I think about doing it again? Yes.
Do I? No. Because I make decisions.
I am in control. For real, this time.
And having an extremely loving and supportive husband certainly helps. Justin, my love, I wouldn't be able to get through this without you. I opened up to Justin about my illness and he accepted me 100%. He held my hand when I wanted to run. He told me I was beautiful when I felt worthless. And he told me that no matter what, above all, I should never make myself sick ever again. But more importantly, he told me I had to do this for me, not him or anyone else. I had to believe in myself and the rest would be easy.
I'm still working on that part, but life is a journey of self-discovery. And I'm still figuring myself out.
Learning and loving myself more and more...every single day.
And one day, when I have a little daughter. I'll teach her the importance of being healthy and respecting your body. I'll hope she has a healthy relationship with food. I'll tell her that feeling fat is simply a feeling, a perception that controls your own reality. She is beautiful. She will always be beautiful, especially if she loves herself first and foremost. Always and forever.
So if you, or you know someone is sick. Tell them you know. Don't baby them. Tell them they need help. And they need to do it for them. Because they are killing themselves. No different than a drug, the disease has a control of their lives. They will be mad. They will be in denial, but one day they will thank you. One day they will love you- only then will they love themselves.
Cheers to celebrating my 5th year in a remission of my eating disorder. I wouldn't have done it without the constant love and support from my family and friends. Even for those who never knew I had a problem, thinking and feeling their contagious love truly made a difference. Every time my dad said he was proud of me, I wanted to make him be proud of who I truly was. When my Grandma Kaye told me I was beautiful, I wanted to believe it. When my mom said I looked like I was losing weight, I wanted to say I was exercising and eating healthy. My friends, many of whom know about my eating disorder now, always remind me of the importance of being healthy. When I look at old pictures with them and talk about how skinny I was, they always say, "Yes, bu you weren't healthy." And we move on. End of discussion. They are right.
And sharing my story really helps. I even wrote about it in a school project. The assignment was a Creative Self Portrait. All about me. So I embraced the opportunity to tell others and hopefully open a few eyes, maybe save a few lives.
Talking about it helps by bringing back memories of a person I never want to be again- helps me love and respect myself more. And you can never have enough love and respect for yourself, except for maybe The Situation off the Jersey Shore. He might love himself a little too much.