A Chronic Illness Eating Disorder Survival Story
Chronic Illness Survival Stories
Everyone deserves the chance to tell their story and share their journey.
Everyone should have the opportunity to share the struggles that are unique to their own life and times. No matter what illnesses or circumstances we might face, we are all in the same boat. We are all just trying to put one foot in front of the other and survive this journey called life.
When I began this blog, that is what I sought to do, to tell the story of my own journey through chronic illness. But, I also wanted it to be a place where others felt safe to tell their own stories. I want Lilac and Lyme to be a community safe house, a place where there is no judgement or fear. Keeping the honesty as well as the silver linings in life in tact as we share our hearts with one another is the key to this blog’s success. I want it to be a safe haven so that all of our stories can be told and our darkest corners can be filled with the light of friendship and hope.
A Very Special Survival Story
The following is a story that I have wanted to share on my blog for a long time. It is a story of triumph and courage. Within its pages are very large pieces of my own heart, you see this story belongs to a very special chronic illness warrior, my daughter. You can read my side of this story here: Recovering From Eating Disorder, A Mother’s Perspective.
This story was painful for me to read. Because even though I have been a silent witness over the past ten years of this epic battle that has taken place in my daughter’s life, I was also a victim of these events. If you are a parent, you will understand what I mean by that statement.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
Anything that hurts our children, hurts us just as deeply. In the very famous words of Elizabeth Stone, “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I gave my heart away to my daughter the minute she was conceived and when she was physically raped and abused by vicious people, my heart was brutally raped as well. I can safely say it has never recovered.
I am a watchful, adoring parent and did not realize the horrible events that had happened to my own child when she was away at work. It has taken me a long time to remove blame and guilt from my own heart and to realize that some things are beyond our control.
So without further rambling, I give you over to my daughter as she shares her story of courage and triumph. I am using her Instagram name for her own protection.
When I was asked to write a guest post for Lilac and Lyme, I felt honored because I think this blog is something special. I perused ideas and then thought why don’t I talk about a little bit of everything? So this is the truth. This is my story.
I am almost twenty-five years old. I am a college graduate. I am married to the love of my life. I have a wonderful family with beautiful younger siblings that I think the world of. I am an avid reader and an inventive cook. I paint. I draw. I write. In many ways, I am just a typical young woman, with hobbies and dreams. I am also a survivor of physical abuse and rape. I am recovering from an eating disorder. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, PTSD, Interstitial cystitis, and progressive Retinitis Pigmentosa (a degenerative eye disease.)
When most people meet me, they don’t know I suffer from mental illness and permanent, irreversible, medical conditions. I often tell my husband it is a blessing and a curse. Most of the time I am glad no one can directly see what I’ve been through, I’m treated normally, and I can blend into the background well. Other times, I wish that people could see my struggles, the things that plague me in everyday life.
People assume that because I am young, I am in the prime of my life, and perhaps I am, but what they don’t realize is that I had to grow up a lot quicker than most.
When I was first assaulted I was barely fifteen years old. I didn’t have a way to put my hurt into words. I thought I had done something wrong. I felt very alone because abuse has a way of isolating its victims. I was raped only a couple of years later. By that time, I had internalized my abuse and began hurting my body, blaming myself for what had happened. I fell into a vicious cycle of starving myself and then bingeing until I made myself sick.
When I met my husband, I was a scared little girl in a grown woman’s body. I still wasn’t having periods because I ate so little my body couldn’t support them. He and I went to church together, while we were in college.
He was the only other person I met who went to church while in school. We became good friends. It was nice to have someone who understood the importance of God in our lives. I think God knew I needed a guardian angel. I was desperate to break away from the men that victimized me. When my husband asked about what had happened, I broke down and cried. We had only known each other for a few months, but already he was protective, and swore he would sleep on the couch in my apartment until they stopped coming to my door.
My friends say I got lucky but I know it was more than that. That relationship saved my life. My husband continues to help me every day. He was there during those first few months after my diagnosis with interstitial cystitis. I was barely nineteen when it began. The pain was insurmountable.
That first year, as my doctors fine-tuned my treatment, I was severely limited. I couldn’t do normal everyday tasks. I was still in college and in the honors program as well. My professors were kind enough to give me assignments I could do from my computer in my dorm room. My husband would go out and buy my groceries. My roommate cheered me onward.
While my interstitial cystitis has changed my life, it has made me grateful for the little things. Later when I was diagnosed with my eating disorder, my doctors were able to link it to my interstitial cystitis. They told me that the years of abuse my body had been through, combined with malnutrition and one too many acidic drinks, had destroyed not only my bladder, but my immune system, and my eyes.
Only a few months ago, I was also diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and a chronic aura migraine. Sometimes it feels like my body is rebelling against me completely, but I know now, that it isn’t my body’s fault any more than it is mine.
It has taken me a long time to forgive myself.
It has taken me a long time to forgive myself. I felt like God had abandoned me. I felt unlovable. I felt worthless. In those moments, where I felt I couldn’t go any lower, I realized that I needed help. Not just help from my doctors, or my therapists, but help from my friends and family. I came out about what happened to me, slowly, over the course of about a year and a half.
I was timid at first, terrified that all my loved ones would run for the hills. I thought wrong. Now, I am thankful I spoke up. If during all those years I was drowning in loneliness, now I can proudly say I am drowning in love. It would be a lie to say it is all behind me. It isn’t that easy. I still struggle with my PTSD, with flashbacks, dissociation, and crippling anxiety.
The difference is I know I will beat it.
Finding Strength in the Chronic Illness Community
I don’t have to tell you that a community is what we all need. You have found one. Many of you are struggling with chronic illnesses. Some of you might even be struggling with the effects of abuse. I would like to extend my gratitude to each and every one of you. Life isn’t easy but it is far easier when we are surrounded by friends.
Women are often taught to pick out their flaws, but I challenge you to pick out your strengths, the characteristics that make you imperfectly and wonderfully you. Too many people spend their lives apologizing. I encourage you to live unapologetically.
If you ever doubt yourself, reach out, and know your weaknesses aren’t actually your weaknesses, because trials and tribulations are life’s greatest teachers. You are here for a reason! God is looking down at you and He sees someone special, someone beautiful, and someone strong!
An Invitation to Share
If you have a story about surviving chronic illness that you would like to share on Lilac and Lyme, please feel free to contact me. You will find my email address under the contact section at the top of my home page.
I welcome guest posts! Although I do reserve the right to edit pieces submitted for length and clarity, I will always keep it honest and true to your personal story. I also would like to add that I try to keep my blog clean from profanity and negativity. I am an optimist at heart and try to find the silver lining in all of life’s circumstances, making lemonade out of lemons so to speak.
Thank you so much for reading, have a wonderful day and remember everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about! Be kind!