Friday, February 3, 2012

An Eater's Testimony : Alyssa

Freshman year at Palm Beach Atlantic University, on the first floor of Baxter Hall I met Alyssa. A tanned beauty with a sweet spirit and sarcastic sense of humor, we began to get to know each other toward the end of the spring semester. When we returned to school after the summer, Alyssa and I struck up a closer friendship. We quickly realized that our bond was deepened by a mutual struggle: food. We'd both had our struggles, and I as was in the midst of one of the hardest, the Lord placed Alyssa in my life as an accountability partner, encourager, and sister. I am ever so thankful for her.

And I am thankful that she has decided to share her story with all of you:

"Where to start with the journey of disordered eating/eating disorder (something that used to be a big distinction in my mind)? Well, I was born, and I ate. And from then on it was downhill. Ok, not really. It wasn’t until I was 8. It was then that I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and now in hindsight, I can trace the eating issues to that singular event that had far reaching consequences. It was a major ordeal—falling into a coma, having severe ketoacidosis, hallucinating—until I was taken to the ER with a blood sugar of 875 (120 is normal). And then life was different, counting carbs, being stereotyped as never being allowed to have sugar, eating on a schedule. On the one hand I became really comfortable with measuring spoons and nutrition labels. I also craved the things I couldn’t have and so my family had to hide candy and sweets from me. And by the 4th grade I was overweight, which escalated throughout my high school years. I remember my first diet in the 5th grade, going to Weight Watchers with my mom in 7th, then all of a sudden not caring at all and eating whatever I wanted and doing huge amounts of insulin to cover it. The battle was up and down-always wanting to be thin like my friends and trying to eat right, then “cheating” and eating on the sly huge amounts of whatever I wasn’t supposed to be having. On top of that, I am not athletically gifted and so was only moderately active. 15 minutes on the elliptical counted as a workout and a life goal was to be able to run a mile. By the time I went to college, I was maintaining a weight by eating decently, but not wonderfully, and taking long walks every day.
Then I went to school in Florida. Where everyone wears a bikini, or runs, or is just beautiful and tan without much effort. I haphazardly began running (I was too embarrassed to stop after a ½ mile when the whole basketball team walked in the gym), at big salads for lunch and dinner, and little else in between cafeteria meals.  And magically, I started losing weight, without a concerted effort or trying. So I kept doing what I was doing and the weight just melted and I kept having to buy new jeans. Shopping became fun for the first time ever and I was getting rave reviews on my new body when I traveled home for breaks.  I made exercise science my minor and took nutrition where we had to document every single thing we ate for 2 months. I bought a 2 piece (my mother hates “bikinis”).
And then I took a quiz online about “the eating disorder next door” and feared something was wrong with me. My parents found out and sent me to counseling, to which I balked because I felt like that made me crazy or mentally unstable or like I was going to be sent to some ranch in the desert to eat more food. That round of counseling didn’t do much, even though I pretended like the issue was over. I went back to Florida and even though I was still very small, I oscillated between what I now recognize as starvation mode and bingeing. By this point I realized I had disordered eating-I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food. KT (Kathryn) and I made notecards and prayed together, and that accountability was meaningful. But it didn’t solve the problem. I was addressing the issues on the surface, but not really attacking them at the core of my heart.
I transferred back home to finish college and experienced the cold of winter for an extended period of time. I also went on birth control because my dramatic weight loss (50ish pounds) and ramped up running (6-7 miles, 6 days a week) took away my “woman-ness.” And I indulged and gained weight. Not a ton, about 10-15 pounds. And I hated my body, hated how I felt, hated that my cute skinny clothes didn’t fit anymore. And I turned to the last resort I knew to try and quickly eliminate the fatness I felt: bulimia. I made myself throw up and took  multiple laxatives a day. It didn’t work. I went home for the summer and stopped the bulimia and lost a little weight, but it was a miserable summer. That fall I fell into it again, hard. I graduated and moved to Dallas where I lived alone with a 75 year old (2nd) cousin. I was isolated, had no direction, and had no activities or friends, unlike school where I was busy and lived with 9 wonderful gals. And the bulimia became worse and I became obsessed with weighing myself. I ate like a bird during the day and then had massive binges at night, ending in a raw throat and disgruntled intestines from the vomiting.
The first time I went home was for Easter, and I finally told someone: my brother, to try and sustain some sort of accountability. And then I had a huge binge and threw up and told everyone it was because my stomach didn’t handle the chocolate. And then I balled my eyes out into my brother’s shoulder, and for the first time somebody made me talk about what I was thinking and feeling. I told some close girlfriends who knew of previous struggles and began the long road to recovery. From then it was a small handful of times that I threw up again until the Lord finally released me into freedom. The story of that specific moment is a beautiful one, but I’ll save it for another dayJ
That is just the long chronology of how I got to where I am now…I still pour over my notecards daily, I seek to expose the struggle in me and share Truth, because Satan wants nothing more than for it to be my solitary struggle. And for far too long it was, but I’ve come to a place where there is freedom in speaking out and being vulnerable. I do all those things because it is still a struggle. I’ve been graciously released from the bulimia, but food still holds an unhealthy allure to my mind and heart that I constantly battle. " (written exclusively by Alyssa Peiser for "Thoughts on Etcetera") 
Thank you so much friend for being vulnerable with us all. And I hope that you all can be edified and encouraged to know that there are other ladies out there who are in the battle too.


1 comment:

  1. wow! what an amazing testimony! thank you for sharing, alyssa! I appreciate all of the detail you went into, as I think it gives a much clearer picture than what I've heard before in describing what it's like to have an eating disorder. the Lord will use your testimony mightily!