True Life | My Struggle with an Eating Disorder
Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT
When people think of eating disorders, they typically think of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. However, many people struggle with compulsive overeating and/or binge eating. Mandy is a beautiful woman who is sharing her story and struggles of how she got help and thrived. I met her on Instagram and feel like we have become friends, even though we never met in person. Mandy identifies in her story when she needed help and appropriate coping skills, and knows what works for her and what does not. She is inspiring for all.
My name is Mandy and what you read below is my story and journey to a healthier me. It started my freshmen year of high school; I was cheerleader and played soccer. I loved it, but after some dramatic events I was no longer allowed to be a cheerleader and I gave up my love for soccer, out of fear that they would not let be on the team. I ate my feelings and by the end of the year gained 15-20 pounds and went from a size 6 to a size 12. Hence, in high school life I was overweight, and was nicknamed “butterface,” as in everything is ugly but-her-face. I was never asked to a dance, or prom, and had to retreat to asking friends from church. On some occasions I had a boyfriend who would take me to their school’s dance or come with me to mine and was lucky enough to have two high-school sweethearts that saw past my image. However, the drama of high school life naturally occurred and we broke up.
Going into college I felt pretty despite all the drama of high school life, but again noticed that it was all my roommates that were getting asked to date parties with fraternity guys, and not being in a sorority at the time I didn’t have the luxury of asking friends to date parties of my own. Into the middle of my freshmen year I met a college love, who again was able to look past my image and see me for who I was. I got comfortable with him and over the three years we were together I gained twenty pounds. Although he was a sweetheart we split our ways and I went off to graduate school.
While pursing my masters I was in a long-distance relationship (I was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and he was in Washington, DC) and stressed I ate my way through the pain of being over a thousand miles apart, a whole twenty pounds worth. Needless to say the distance got to us, and we broke up.
During the summer of my Masters degree I met an amazing man who would change my life for forever, my fiancé. Again I got comfortable, and ate my way through another fifteen pounds and while I would love to tell you all of the details of my fairy tale romance this posting is how I got healthy and so I will leave the rest to just that!
So what lead to my ultimate decision to start a lifestyle change? It was a Monday morning in October and it was the day I tried on wedding dresses for the first time. It was suppose to be one of the best days ever, you know, the Kodak moment that a majority of girls grow up dreaming about. I had asked my two role models, my mom and my grandma, to come with me to be part of the experience. We made an appointment, I met with the bridal consultant, and she began by taking my measurements. She informed me that I was a size 22 and that they only carried a “few” gowns in my size. Not wanting to break down in front of my family, I put on the dresses they had in my size and walked out saddened, as they were the farthest things away from what I had dreamed! I put my clothes back on, we walked out of the store and laughed about the dresses I tried on, while inside I dreaded every going back to a bridal store.
Later that night was the Monday Night football game, and as always they present the statistics of the starting lineup. My mouth dropped as I realized I weighed more than a professional linebacker, but again I hid behind my true feelings. During the halftime show I wanted to work on a paper and when I went to sit on the couch my computer cable broke from my weight. I couldn’t take it anymore and I dropped to my knees crying at how I got so unhealthy.
My fiancé being the Prince he is, wiped away my tears and told me I was beautiful. When I told him I didn’t have money for surgery, or diet pills he said I didn’t need those. So we talked it through and decided that I would sign up for Weight Watchers. I can honestly say that I had no idea that a year from that day I would have lost 63 pounds, 14 dress sizes, 10 jean sizes, 3 shirt sizes, have to get my ring taken in 2.5 sizes, and even lose 1.5 shoe sizes. While the physical successes are amazing what I was not prepared for was the emotional journey that would also take place.
While Weight Watchers and exercise helped manage my weight I had to realize that I put personal love for others, heartbreak, pain and food into the same basket, thus when I was in love and comfortable or in pain due to a heartbreak or high school drama I ate…A LOT! This was by far my biggest challenge.