The process of finding yourself

Is there a part of you that feels like you don’t really know who you are?

As I read through old journal entries dated from childhood to adolescence, there is a common theme to them.

“Who am I?”

“What is my identity?”

This confusing sense of identity has been a constant in my life.

I know myself but I just feel like I’m missing something… who am I really?

The moment I “lost myself” is not an incredibly clear one.

My best guess would be the transition into teenage years.

When you are struggling to fit in, you keep trying on different masks until you find one that people like.

I never found that mask but I did find alcohol, which always took the edge off of the excruciating feeling of living in my own skin.

Tired of failing at being accepted for who I was, I stopped trying completely and pursued the next best option- numbing.

When I was 13, I achieved the feeling of being completely numb for the first time.

Alcohol became my best friend.

When I was drinking, I just didn’t care.

I didn’t care that I was ugly.

I didn’t care that nobody liked me.

I didn’t care that life was racing in a blur around me when I was supposed to be growing into a decent young adult.

The negative choices I made in my adolescence are what robbed me of my identity.

I freaking gave up on myself, gave up on finding my mask.

I chose to hide behind the emptiness of covering up my pain with substance.

Now in my adult years feeling a void in establishing my personal foundation.

I missed all of that and so now, that I’m mature enough to go and try on masks again, I’m figuring it out one mistake at a time.

Life is crazy you guys.

I took a risk when I chose to find myself.

Self reflection isn’t the easiest when you have a battered past.

“I want to go back and relive my worst traumas!” Said no one ever.

But those traumas are literal chains that will keep us bound until we face them.

In the process of finding myself, parts of the old me had to die.

The haunting shadows of the scariest memories of my life felt like a reality again for quite some time as I sorted through it all.

I got a lot crazier before I got better.

I’ll never forget my very first session with my anxiety therapist.

I was two months pregnant with my second child and had already gained 20 pounds.

It was the first time I had eaten like a normal person after an Exercise anorexia 8 month spiral.

I had stopped taking 4mg of prescribed Xanax a day cold turkey because I didn’t want to hurt my baby.

Every day was one big panic attack.

She asked me to say aloud,

“I am beautiful.”

And I couldn’t.

Instead anger and tears erupted in defense of my self deprecation.

We spent three years poking and prying, in which time I became completely nuts.

The first phase of finding myself was filled with anger and blame on others.

In that time I irrationally pointed the finger and blew up on my mom multiple times.

I would call her and be freaking out, sometimes even yelling, about something that I was understanding for the first time.

These memories stemmed from my grieving mind fiercely and emotionally believing that I had been done wrong.

It was a long going, deep seeded outburst of emotions I was just coming to terms with for the first time.

I found out that my Mom has Borderline Personality Disorder.

Her symptoms of the mental illness distorted my perception of myself.

I wasn’t actually “the ugliest kid in the entire world”, and if we are being real, I can’t blame her for the fact that I never found myself.

The first part of finding myself required facing some heavy shit so that I could live a better life.

The second part of finding myself was a beautiful blossoming into who I was always supposed to be.

Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the very first time, I broke free from the hell that had been consuming me.

The process of finding yourself is a journey of understanding that you are the only one who can change your situation.

The moment you decide to own responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you become a butterfly. 🦋

It’s worth the process.

Check out Project Identity for more inspirational content and resources. ❣️

Exercise anorexia

**WARNING: Some of the content/images in this post may be triggering for individuals in recovery from an eating disorder! **

It was time to get back on a diet.

My eating disorder makes it difficult to lose weight without going extreme…

Even when I’m making every effort to not be obsessive, I find myself subconsciously testing the boundaries.

In 2015, I found a new way to “cheat the system” and have an eating disorder without “having an eating disorder”.

It started as a semi-innocent attempt to lose a little bit of weight and quickly spiraled into a full fledged eating disorder- but not the type of eating disorder that people talk about.

Although I wasn’t quite “clinically” overweight…yet, I was the heaviest that I had ever been and I felt like I needed to take control of my health.

November 2015

Losing weight freaking sucks.

I swear that you are never more “hangry” than when on a diet.

In 2009, I was hospitalized for anorexia and bulimia. (Read for more on that experience in Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.)

Whenever I think “lose weight” my brain goes immediately to starvation.

Starve yourself = get skinny.

When I’m serious about something I want results and I want them quick.

With the help of my Fitbit activity tracker, some low calorie/ high protein drink mix, and a food logging app, I had everything I needed to go full on eating disorder for almost a year.

I struggle with severe anxiety.

Many days it about controls my everyday life.

At the start of this new “diet”, I experienced the relief from my anxiety with an endorphin high achieved by high intensity exercise.

It also just so happened to fit right in with my new “healthy lifestyle”.

The statistics on my Fitbit were THRILLING- driving me to push myself beyond my limits.

The next piece to my master plan was the PERFECT protein powder.

Researching like crazy to find the best low calorie, high protein, powder.

Eventually choosing a brand that offered an 130 calorie serving while packing a whopping 30 grams of protein.

The original plan?

Substitute a couple meals with the protein shake.

The actual plan?

Protein shake with water for breakfast- 130 Cal

Protein shake with water for lunch- 130 Cal

Regular dinner with the family- max 300 Cal (typically consisting of a bite or two that I would chew very slowly to trick myself that I was eating more.)

Days that I didn’t have to cook I’d drink a third shake for dinner and skid through the day with 390 calories.

This new “diet” allowed myself a measly maximum of 560 calories a day.

Before I knew it my eating disorder was out of hand.

The initial adjustment was insanely hard.

I would think about food every second of every day.

It was miserable.

The only way to distract myself from the hunger was by exercising… all. day. long.

It wasn’t abnormal to have 600+ “active minutes” every single day.

There wasn’t time for anything else anymore.

My days literally revolved around trying to exercise the hunger out of me.

This was explained to loved ones as, “the more I burn, the more I can eat!”

Though the calorie allowance never actually adjusted.

Exercise became the most important thing in the world to me.

I withdrew from friends because I knew they wouldn’t be “up” for what I did all day- and I had to do it.

There were no exceptions, there were no “breaks”.

I clearly remember dropping out of anxiety therapy because I didn’t want to sit down for a full hour and not be burning calories.

But oh no, “I didn’t have an eating disorder”.

I was just “being healthy”- which also happens to be much more socially accepted.

Don’t get me wrong.

Exercise is indeed very healthy and an extremely important aspect of health.

This wasn’t just exercise though, this was an eating disorder.

February 2016

Exercise wasn’t healthy when it began taking priority over every other thing in my life.

390-560 calories a day is totally unacceptable- certainly not adequate fuel for 15+ miles of exercise a day.

Exercise anorexia is still not clearly recognized as an eating disorder, though some developments are being made in that direction.

I’m writing this because I know loud and clear that these behaviors were just as deadly as my anorexia/bulimia hospitalization in 2009.

Even though I weighed 100 pounds more this time around and was practicing what our society views as “normal healthy behavior”, it was equally valid as an eating disorder.

Eventually I plateaued and the extreme behaviors weren’t making me any skinnier.

By then, I needed to be skinnier… a lot skinnier.

If you have an eating disorder you can understand the feeling of never being skinny enough.

You could die as a pile of bones and still believe that you left this world “fat”.

And that’s what fuels this sick addiction.

I continued trying to amp up my workouts.

‘5 more pounds!’

One day, literally waking up from the kitchen floor.

Instead of feeling scared and ready to throw in the towel, I felt an overwhelming rush of pride.

I had starved and overexerted myself to the point of literally collapsing and this was something I accepted like a trophy.

My “out” came when I became pregnant in June 2016.

No way was I going to harm my baby trying to achieve the perfect physique.

My body quickly packed on the pounds after months of starvation.

I had zero energy, was hungry all day long, and embraced this change in protection of my pregnancy.

February 2017

Thankfully, I have been able to maintain regular eating habits after a short relapse postpartum.

I still haven’t lost all of my baby weight… and that’s something I’m learning to be okay with.

I’m blessed to have a husband who loves me just as much at a size 10 as he did at size 0.

You guys, these superficial standards that we all feel the need to chase after are so ridiculous.

God didn’t create food so it would give us panic attacks.

You are beautiful exactly the way you are. ❣️

Freedom from my eating disorder has been incredible.

I’m not confined to superficial desires anymore or the disappointment that comes with them.

Instead I’m choosing happiness, self love, and confidence.

You are all you have.

Be kind to yourself.

Self love looks beautiful on you! ❤️

January 2019

Check out my blog, Project Identity for more inspirational stuff! 💕

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, check out the links below!

Meet Nikki, my eating disorder. talks about who is really in control when you have an eating disorder.

Understanding Bulimia for more info on Bulimia.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself. my hospitalization for Anorexia/Bulimia.

Through the ears of my eating disorder for loved ones of someone struggling!

Drop a comment or send me message for additional help! ❣️💕❣️

❤️