Thursday, June 4, 2015

the truth.

**warning to those who have struggled with eating disorders, this post has the potential to be slightly triggering**

after much contemplation, i decided I'm  ready to introduce you all to the truth, or i could reword it differently by saying here i am, ready to introduce you to my "friend" ED. "ED" or e.d. Refers to: eating disorder. 

on this blog, i've very vaguely, and slyly mentioned being "sick" and having "health complications" i've shared having to miss out on dance, and if you've read my blog for awhile now, maybe you remember when i disappeared and stopped posting for awhile, i later went on to explain that i'd been experiencing my "own personal hell"

here i am FINALLY being open, honest, and vulnerable, about what has REALLY been going on. 

early summer of 2014, after much denying and begging my parents to believe me that i was fine, they finally took me to a doctor, and i was finally diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. even though i wasn't taken to a doctor, and wasn't diagnosed until that last summer, the illness has been with me for quite some time, and i was in-denial to it at first, it took months for me to believe i really had an eating disorder, or any problem at all. even when i was first hospitalized, i sometimes doubted i needed to be there, and i'd tell everyone "i've only had an eating disorder since april" but looking back now, i see all the red flags, and all the "eating disorder behaviors" that started much much before april.  

if i wanted to share my whole story, it'd take you guys hours to read, and even longer for me to write, so in a nutshell, here's what went down. 

about a month after my diagnoses i was admitted into a inpatient until at a hospital that specializes in eating disorders, a.k.a 24 hour care, treatment, rehab, it's all the same. 
in this hospital i attempted to heal and recover, but after a short 6 weeks, my parents pulled me out of 24 hour care so i could get back to dance. 6 weeks doesn't seem too short, but for someone struggling to get over one of the strongest, most painful addictions, 6 weeks is short. too short. 
my treatment team warned both me and my parents, they let us know I wasn't ready to leave, it was much too soon and i wasn't even close to being stable enough to make it on my own. my parents had complete faith that i could do it, i knew deep down i wasn't ready to leave, and i had a feeling that i would eventually relapse, but i certainly thought it'd make it much longer then i did.

right away, i began down that slippery slope and started my downward spiral into relapse. by january 2015, i was sicker then i had been the first time around, and at this point had dropped below 80 pounds. awesome right? skinny right? i must have LOVED my body, i was doing things no one else could do i was so accomplished!! i had so much self control and it felt SO good.... right?! no!!!!! absolutely not!! i still looked in the mirror and continued to wish pounds off of myself. i wasn't satisfied, i hated my appearance, and i still felt like a failure.

so once again, and this time sicker then ever before, i was hospitalized again. this time I was hospitalized and in 24 hour care for 3 months, 12 whole weeks. in the middle of April, i stepped down to being "partially hospitalized" it's now june, and i'm still in the part hospitalization program. i'm still in treatment each week day from 8-6. i finally get to sleep at home each night, and i finally get to spend Saturday and Sunday at home doing whatever i want. even though i've "stepped down" from full hospitalization, and even though i spent this whole year in rehab, guess what? i still struggle.

you'd think after 145 days (and counting) of treatment, and countless hours of therapy,  i'd be "healed." unfortunately, that's not the happy story i'm here to tell. sure, i'm a lot physically healthier, after what felt like a never ending weight restoration, i've reached my goal weight, a long with a healthy weight, my hair has stopped falling out, and there's finally color in my face, but anorexia (and any eating disorder for that matter) is so much more then a physical appearance. It's mental. i have a mental disorder, and do you know how hard it is to bluntly state that? i, courtney hill, have a mental disorder.
not only was i diagnosed with anorexia, but also major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. (wowzers... that a shameful one for me, and i just threw it out there.) it's rare that someone "catches" an eating disorder without developing depression and anxiety as well. 

so why on earth am i sharing this?! why am i choosing to put the most guarded part of me out there in the open where anyone and everyone can see it? because i want things to change! and i can't sit around waiting, wishing, and hoping, for things to change without doing anything about it myself. so i'm pulling down my walls and throwing my imperfect self out at you guys, in hopes, for things to change. 

by "hope for things to change" I don't mean hope for ME to change, and hopes to magically be "healed," trust me, if all it took to recover was to write a vulnerable blog post sharing your story, i would've done it a LONG time ago, because let's be honest, (pardon my french, but this is necessary) the eating disorder is a bastard and recovering is a pain in the ass.
 i've NEVER experienced something so real and so painful, and it's something you will never truly understand unless you've gone through it yourself. 

i've contemplated over and over again whether i should share "my story" so openly, and publically, or not. 
i've written and re-written this post over and over again in my head, and every time i end up "erasing" it all and decide that i don't need to follow through with this, but after being exposed to the world, and all the ignorance about this topic, much much frustration came, with the help of my therapist, i realized that maybe by sharing my story, i can make a difference. i'm only one girl, and this is only one blog with a low number of followers, but it's my attempt to make a change in society and the lack of education around eating disorders.

so where to begin?! well, one thing I'm sick of, is everyone glorifying eating disorders. you may still be wondering, why did i use the word "catches" earlier in this post, (referring to me and my e.d.)?! i didn't catch anything right? i decided i wanted to have an eating disorder, i woke up one day and just CHOSE not to eat....right? WRONG. that's the first thing this world believes, is that an eating disorder is something people want and choose. if i hear one more person state they "wish they had an eating disorder" because they "want to be thin" i swear i'll throw a major bf. earlier, i mentioned that i dropped below 80 pounds, but that was almost pointless, because that's only the obvious part of anorexia, and there's so much more to it then weight. 
when someone hears the word "anorexic" i'm sure they immediately think starving, and beautiful models or ballerinas made of skin and bones. hate to burst your bubble, but the body size and the weight is only a SMALL side effect, that's right, a side effect. eating disorders aren't body types, the body type is a (one more time) SIDE EFFECT of an eating disorder.
 everyone can tell you about the weight loss, but no one mentions the physical, and emotional pain that comes along with it. i'm sick and tired of eating disorders being glorified, because guess what?? despite popular belief, eating disorders SUCK! 

no matter how much "weight" and "fat" and "mass" the eating disorder peels off of you, you won't be satisfied with your body. it'll NEVER be enough. you might have a "goal weight" in your head, but the second you get there you STILL won't be happy with your body and you'll STILL think you need to lose more weight. the last thing an eating disorder brings is "satisfaction" with your body, he tells you you'll be satisfied, but that's a lie (p.s. he?! who's HE you ask?? we'll get to that!) it only makes you more obsessed with your body, and it creates more dissatisfaction. the eating disorder will NEVER - and i repeat- NEVER be satisfied with itself until you are dead. harsh? yeah. but true? still yeah.

when the eating disorder enters your world, suddenly the ONLY thing that matters is the number on the scale, the number on the back of your pants, and whether you have a thigh gap or not. and let me testify that the most depressing life you can live is one the revolves around your appearance. 
and lets be honest "living with an eating disorder" isn't actually living at all..... it's merely surviving.

who looks happiest? the little girl on her 14th birthday, holding a cupcake? or the senior in high school, who's nearly 18, and is holding gathered fabric behind her back so her dress will look like it 'fits'?

you're right, the 14 year old is a lot happier, AND  she's about to eat a cupcake.

and who do you think is the happiest here? the 15 year old in her new bright green pants, with her harry style's shirt and her top knot? or the senior in high school, who's nearly 18, has bony wrists and ankles, and can't fit into the pants she wore in jr high, but still 'needs' to lose more weight??
you're right, the young girl standing next to her sister is a lot happier.

not only does your body wither away, so does your mind. i've caused myself brain damage, and yes, brians can heal, but some of that damage may never be erased. i've also caused vital organs of mine to slowly "shut down." and that brings up a lot of shame for me. 
no one mentions the fact that you have zero control over your actions and your life. 
no one focuses on or understands the emotional pain that comes from an eating disorder. small example, ever since i was a little girl, i've loved dancing, and i've dreamed of making my high schools dance team, and finally, i did it. sophomore year i made the high schools dance team, and it was amazing! but then this blasted eating disorder came into my life, and i had to walk away from my dream come true. i had to sit in therapy while my team competed at nationals - in disney land, - and that was hard, that was REALLY heart brekaing, but that isn't even the begining of it. 

my older sister nicole was born with a heart defect, and here i was ruining, trashing, and damaging my heart, my perfectly good heart, that was once in great condition, and for what? for what i thought was happiness, beauty, and the 'perfect body' (which doesn't exsist by the way) and all that damage i've done to my heart might not EVER be erased. and i have to live with that guilt the rest of my life.
no one mentions the headaches that no amount of pain medication could relieve, no one mentions the dry, cracked, hurt skin. not only is that painful, it's also ugly, my hands have never been more unattractive then when they were purple and yellow.
no one mentions the fatigue, passing out, being light headed, feeling like you ran a marathon by simply turning the steering wheel on your car or walking up your stairs, but despite the painful fatigue, you feel the constant need to be "burning calories" and working out.

the eating disorder sets up this idea that if you choose not to eat, and go running instead, you somehow have "control" but no, you have absolutely no control, and you're no longer making those decisions for yourself.
 it gets the the point where you're sitting and you're staring at a pancake that you WISH so badly you could eat, but there's that voice in your head telling you "no. nope. don't you dare. don't you even think about it." and your mom's next to you with her arms around you trying to convince you it'll be okay, and that the pancake won't hurt you. but you're sobbing, because that damn eating disorder is screaming "she's lying! that pancake will ruin your week" and who do i chose to believe? the eating disorder.
it gets to the point where you suck on a 15 calorie mint and suddenly your mind has 1,000 thoughts per minute running through it, and you just have to step on the scale just to make sure you didn't gain any weight from that mint, and then just to "be safe" you have to do jumping jacks to burn off the calories. 
wanting to die after chewing a piece of bubble gum, because of the 'calories' isn't self control, it's the opposite. it is being controlled.
how glamorous is it to be 18 and to be powerless against your own mind, and not being able to make any decisions for yourself?
this is why, i, and many others, refer to the eating disorder as ED. because there is a distinct difference between yourself, and the eating disorder. there is two voices in your head, your own voice, and ed's voice. Ed is a lying, manipulating, abusive, husband, and for some reason, i was too scared to divorce him, i devoted my life and world to him. the more power i gave ed, the more power i lost myself, and suddenly my voice was 100% gone, i no longer heard courtney, the one who likes eating raw cookie dough, and cats, and laughing, and making others laugh, and singing in the car, and staying out late with friends. courtney was no where to be found. all i heard was ed, the one who told me i was allowed one apple a day, and the one who convinced me i liked running, counting calories, hiding in the corner of my room, and having the body of a 10 year old boy.
i was completely gone. there was no more spring in my step, there was no more light in my eyes, there was no more smile on my face.
all that was left of me was sunken in cheek bones, bulging eyes, and a grey &  yellow face. 
i didn't even look like myself anymore.
i didn't laugh, and i didn't feel joy, i didn't feel happiness.
i'd tell my mom i was with friends, but I didn't actually want to be social, so instead i'd sit on the floor on the book isle of target and read. I'd go "shopping" but only because it was too cold to exercise outside, so i'd take laps around the mall, i'd spend saturday nights at walmart, walking up and down the grocery isles reading and memorizing nutrition facts, i'd stare at all the food i wished i could eat while listening to ed remind me "just look, maybe touch, maybe sniff, but don't you dare even think about taking a bite"
you thought anorexic's hated food right?? no, we hate the way Ed makes us feel when we eat, but we're actually obsessed with food. if i wasn't thinking about ways to lose weight, i was thinking about food i'd eat when i was finally recovered, or food i wished i could eat but wouldn't dream of actually eating.

did you know, eating disorder aren't even about food?! this one took a LOT of convincing for me, and sometimes i still don't believe it, but the starving isn't actually about my appearance or weight, the eating disorder lies, and made me believe that's what it is all about, but what it really is, is a numbing technique. the eating disorder is a coping mechanism, and clearly not a positive one. 
in the eating disorder, i was like a huge mask, i no longer felt emotions, it was a way to distract myself from real life. when i was SO focused on my growling stomach, and how repulsive i thought my thighs were, i didn't have to think about the trauma, abuse, and every other awful thing ever experienced in my life. the eating disorder is about core issues and problems, majority of individuals with eating disorders have experienced traumatic, hard, scary things.
so what do you think about when you hear the word "anorexic?" probably not all that, you most likely think about models, being skinny, and receiving attention from your small figure.

if i hear any more friends brag about how "little" they've had to eat this week thinking it's 'impressive' and 'cool' or if i see one more girl turn her nose up to a cupcake trying to compete with everyone else about her "self control" and her "clean eating" i might just jump out of my seat and strangle the damn friend, even though i love her guts! because starving isn't cool, trying to mold your body like it's a lump of clay isn't glamorous. it's depressing, sickening, and awful.
do you really want people to look at you and see that you're broken? do you want your countenance to have "victim" written all over it?!

because this is not courtney. this is a victim. this is a depressed, sad, numb, tired girl. this is not courtney.
the point of this picture isn't my body (in fact, looking at this picture - and all of these pictures - are still hard for me to do, i don't see myself as "sick" i still think it wasn't enough, i still feel like i could've gotten myself 'sicker' before getting help. and that's sad. no one deserves to live a life of constantly failing and never winning.) but the point of this picture is my face, and my eyes. when i just stare at my face, that's when i realize i was sick. and that's when i realize i truly no longer was 'me.'

you know what else drives me crazy about the world and this topic?? the fact that no one takes it seriously, and no one gets how dangerous it is.

did you know, more people die from eating disorders then die from cancer? the odds of beating cancer are larger then the odds of beating an eating disorder. and it only gets worse, all these eating disorder deaths, are rarely recorded as death by eating disorder, they're recorded as deaths from "heart failure" or "heart disease" well no wonder the world is so ignorant!
i've spent more the half of my senior year living in a hospital, but since it was for an eating disorder, and not because i was bad car accident, it doesn't matter right? courtney hill will be fine right?? no. i might not ever be completely 'alright' after what my bodies been through.
the scariest thing about trying to recover from anorexia, or any mental disorder, is the fact that healing isn't up to the doctors, medicine, or surgery. oh how i WISH they could just 'operator' on my brain, then i could walk away recovered, but no, it's just not that easy.
in order to heal, my mind - my own brain - has to fight itself. my SICK brain, that has been hijacked, and taken over, has to "think" and "fight" it's own self back to health. does anyone understand how hard that is?! it's like screaming at dirt and mud to just clean itself. it's like expecting a broken vase to fix itself. how can something that's so sick just heal itself, how can something that's been robbed find its own self again??

i'm anorexic, i don't have pneumonia, but i still have a chronic illness, and i'm still sick, and my condition is still serious, and deathly.  i did not choose this for myself.
i'm sick of mental illnesses, including anorexia, and all other eating disorders, being under the radar, i'm tired of them receiving no recognition, and no praise for overcoming.
they have a negative stigma to them, and instead of survivors being looked at as strong, brave, and courageous, we're looked at as freaks who have 'issues.'
the eating disorder is an illness, not a choice, and it's an addiction, in fact, it's the second hardest addiction to overcome after a sex addiction.
fighting an alcohol and drug addiction is easier then fighting an eating disorder.
imagine your worst fear in the whole entire world, imagine the scariest thing you can think of, now imagine having to deal with that 6 times a day. i'm required to eat 3 meals, and 3 snacks, each and every day. but no pat on the back to me, because it's "not serious" i "chose this" and my life "isn't on the line" right?! well despite the worlds views, WRONG.
an alcoholic can avoid alcohol, but i can't avoid food, i have to face it, it is a necessity of life, yet i'm terrified of it. it's the equivalent of being allergic to air, they didn't chose that allergy, and i didn't chose this sickness.

now if you're STILL reading, congratulations, i'm not sure many others could've endured what you just did. but thank you. i appreciate you taking your time to hear what i have to say. and i hope this was an eye opener to what REALLY goes on underneath the appearance with eating disorders. and hopefully your perception on this illness has changed a bit.
there's nothing fancy about it, there's nothing glamorous and desirable about it. it's painful, and it's real.