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Fighting the Demons

July 21, 2012

I’ve questioned whether I should post about this for a few weeks now. It’s not something that I talk about to strangers, however I think I need to address it.

When I was a teen I fought with anorexia and ended up with the ‘less dangerous’ bulimia which continued for at least four years into my early adulthood. It started as a coping mechanism for stressful situations that I found myself unable to change. I would stop eating for days at a time. I had lost control of parts of my life and I retaliated by controlling the only thing I could which was food.  I had been bullied throughout my school life, starting in grade 4 (I was 8yrs old). I was labelled by cruel girls as a ‘bush pig’ (among other names) and these girls went out of their way to make my life a hell. I hated school. I started throwing up so that I could stay home rather than face going to my class and being teased ruthlessly. I didn’t tell my parents why I was sick, Mum took me to countless doctors who eventually stated it was ‘all in her head’, and I was made to go to school even if I did throw up.  I was eight years old and I had full blown bulimia.My own son is coming up to eight in a few months, I cherish him. I would never want him to go through my experience.

When I went to high school the stigma of primary school followed me there. I didn’t fit in with the ‘socialites’ crowd,  the girls who were popular were still as butt nasty as ever. I was lucky to have a group of friends who stuck by me though, Cathy, Natalie, Sue, Kim, Christine. They didn’t care what other people called me, they were my friends no matter what. We called ourselves The Funny Farm and backed each other up whenever someone was trying to be cruel to us.

I learned to cope and worked on my eating disorder. Up until a stupid incident which saw my best friend Cathy banned from hanging out with me. I fell back into the pattern of eating my food in front of my parents, waiting twenty minutes and then throwing all of it up when they weren’t looking.

I went through fat stages as a teen, as well as skinny ones. I wasn’t over weight compared to todays youth, however at the time I could be called chubby. Being a size 14 (US size 10) at fifteen wasn’t helping my self esteem. Boys would tease me and call me “Twatterly”, the girls would say worse. Added to that my father lost his job, and we went through several lean years. My self esteem was rock bottom. The only control I had in my life? Food.

None of my teachers ever inquired how I was. To this day it still surprises me that no teacher took an interest in my welfare. I was one of those kids that would slip through the cracks, you’d see me filling a chair but that was about it. I think that was one of the reasons I eventually became a teacher myself, to perhaps make a difference in other teens lives. To be that one that cared enough to ask if a kid was okay and to get them help if they needed it.

In my final year of high school I was teased so badly by the socialites as well as people I used to call friends that I developed full on anorexia. I stopped eating. I started cooking for my family instead. I would sit there pushing my food around my plate and asking everyone if they liked dinner, and then get up quickly when Mum wasn’t looking and dump my own dinner away. It hurt. It was really painful to sit there with that food looking at me at first, my stomach hurt all the time. But eventually it got easier. Until I didn’t mind the empty feeling.

I went to my High School Formal (prom), still ‘overweight’, but I had a  friend who took me. I had known him for years and it was nice to have a guy to go with. I had dreaded the thought of being shunned at the Formal. I don’t think he’ll ever know how grateful I was for him taking me. But even then there were socialite guys who mocked me openly, and saying really awful sexually derogatory things about me, and the whole crowd laughing about it. I felt ashamed. My ‘peers’ made me ashamed of who I was, how I looked. I felt worthless. The ultimate hurt occurred when my friends played spin the bottle and the worst punishment they could think up for not following through a dare was to “kiss Natalie”. These were kids that were supposed to support me, and even they thought I was ugly and fat. My anorexia became full blown then. I hated myself. Instead of hating my ‘friends’ for how they treated me, I decided I was at fault and punished myself.

Mum and Dad stepped in after noticing what I was doing. I can’t remember what they did but I know that I started eating small meals again. So I could no longer get away with not eating, instead I ate and threw up in secret. I was back to square one again. I did lose a lot of weight. I slimmed down and a year later had those same socialite guys who treated me badly were asking me out on dates. I spoke to one guy about it and said ‘you didn’t want me then, I don’t want you now. I’ve changed, you haven’t.’ And he apologised to me for how he had treated me. He was the only one though. The rest turned out to be true jerks.

It took four years after high school to get over the bulimia. But I did it. I became healthy and got on with life. I focused on others, found myself by dedicating it to others well being and I don’t think I’d ever felt better, about myself or about my future.

Fast forward to now. There have been major stressors in my life recently. IVF treatment for fertility. My father (57) passed away after battling illness for years, I lost a baby through miscarriage, we lost my husbands father (63) to a sudden heart attack, and then I lost Mum to a sudden heart attack (she was 56). I entered a depressive cycle of trying to function and failing to do things I would normally be able to do. My whole outlook on life was bleak.  My husband pulled me through it, however I felt I’d lost control.

And what do I do when the control is gone? Yeah, you get the picture. But I fought it. I focused on Paleo and Crossfit. And it was working, it really was, I was feeling good about myself.

Up until two months ago. I won’t go into details but I lost control of my life, and I fell back twenty years, right back into the bulimic cycle. And I’ve been battling it. I finally broke down the other day and told my husband what was going on. He didn’t really understand. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t experienced it can.

So if those that love me don’t understand why the hell am I telling you, perfect strangers? Because somewhere out there someone is going through this too. I want that person to know it’s okay. Things will get better. Sometimes you have to wade directly into the ocean to get through it.

I am focusing on the good and letting go of the toxic. Whenever self doubt thoughts creep up I switch to a positive instead. I dropped off the Paleo wagon during these two months, I’m back on it now. I found eating junk food only added to the problem, I would actually feel disgusting after eating it. And I’m back into crossfit WODs, even though they hurt like hell all over again.

Is it hard to get over an eating disorder? Hell yes. But it can be done. It just takes love and patience.

Thanks.

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2012 3:47 pm

    Aw, crap, Natalie, I’m so sorry about your pain and the jerks.

    And huge bravo and kudos for your bravery in sharing this. As always, you have my love and admiration and support!

  2. Natalie Hatch permalink*
    July 22, 2012 3:52 pm

    Thanks Kel. I just re-read my post and I’m thinking “oh maybe I should delete it”… too much honesty?

  3. July 22, 2012 7:14 pm

    Nat, I’m touched, shocked, astounded. You’re such a vibrant, gorgeous, talented woman that it’s hard to believe that you’ve gone through all this. A really good lesson that there’s a lot going on in people’s lives that we don’t see on the surface. Bless, my friend. xo

    • Natalie Hatch permalink*
      July 22, 2012 8:52 pm

      Thanks Lou, I don’t normally talk about it, it’s not something that comes up in conversation. But I needed to get it off my chest. I guess my professing my faults is therapeutic in a way? I’m taking one day at a time at the moment. Focusing on positivity and trying to deal with stress through exercise. Some days are good, some are just blahhhhh!

  4. rosie permalink
    July 27, 2012 11:36 pm

    Thankyou for being so honest, I could have written that, and it is much easier to take reading that someone else out there understands. x

    • Natalie Hatch permalink*
      July 28, 2012 8:19 am

      I used to think I was the only one going through it, and at the time felt so isolated. I’m hoping that if I can share my story then others will see they’re not alone. Others understand.

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