I had always been naturally thin and fit throughout grade school. I was an active child, running around wrecking havoc with my older brothers. I played volleyball, ran a year of cross country, and played tennis all throughout high school. I was a very happy child, always laughing, always smiling. I always saw the best of things, marveled at the beauty of the world around me, and loved my life.
Then, when I was 16 years old, my entire life changed. For a few years there was what seemed to be a constant onslaught of terrible things that happened in my life, including the suicide of a close friend I had grown up with and the mental deterioration of a family member (I might write blog posts about these later). I’m not sure exactly how it started, possibly from stress or concurrently with the beginning of my battle with depression, but I begin binge eating. To compensate I also began purging and soon developed bulimia. As a result of my sudden disastrous change in eating habits, I gained 30 pounds (I’m also extremely short so this was a huge and very obvious change). I’m sure I have since destroyed my once-so-fast metabolism. To make it worse, I depression began creeping into my life. Instead of going out with friends or even to prom in high school, I wouldn’t allow myself to do anything fun until I had lost the weight. But of course, I instead continued the viscous cycle of bulimia and spiraled deeper and deeper into my mental struggles.
Then I started college. I thought that once I was in college, all my old habits would magically disappear and I would be healthy again. But instead, as I watched my classmates around me going to parties, I buried myself in shame for what I had become. I struggled to make close friends because I would often shut myself out from the world. And no matter how much I wanted it, I couldn’t snap myself out of it. For much of my college experience, bulimia held me tight in its grasp. In sophomore year I begin running again. But due to stress in school and my depression clawing at my thoughts, I begin a period of extreme lows and my running held a very irregular schedule. It was the summer after my sophomore year in college that my depression controlled every moment of my life. To make it worse, I didn’t tell anyone my troubles. I’m sure it was obvious to some when I never smiled and never went out, but if there was one thing I had learned from all of this, it was how to hide my emotions and put on a face that nothing was wrong. I think if I had reached out to someone, I would have gotten better much faster and wouldn’t have wasted so many years of my life to this illness.
Fast forward to junior year. I tried very hard to get better. I started running again, but my bulimia still lurked around, prepared to attack. At the very end of spring quarter of my junior year, I begin running on a more regular basis, eating healthier and slowly, ever so very slowly started seeing a change in my appearance, in my thoughts, and my outlook in life. I was back!
Ultimately, I think it was running that saved me. When I was finally running on a regular schedule, I begin eating more normally and my thoughts were no longer consumed with what foods I could binge on. I begin feeling again…I begin feeling happy. When I’m running, I’m free. With every step I’m stronger and with every step I’m closer to my goals. And the feeling after a run is priceless….that feeling like you can take on the world. Running gave me confidence and it has saved my life…literally.
Today, I think I am still recovering, but well on my way to happiness and to a better life (I know it sounds so cheesy, but it’s the truth). Sometimes I get mad at myself for letting so much of my life pass away so lifelessly, sometimes I slip up, but in the end I am on a journey of survival and I will beat this!