Day 1 LET’S GO! I’m super pumped to be doing this five-part series for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. For today’s blog post, I’ll introduce myself, my story, and my company before we dive into more specifics regarding eating disorders later this week.
*Let this serve as a trigger warning in case you are in a sensitive place
My first diagnosis of an eating disorder was when I was just 13 years old, and it was a long battle of ups and downs until I was about 19 years old. If you know me personally, you know I’m a competitive person. Weighing less than my peers became my newest competition at age 13. If I win that competition, I thought, everyone will like me. This, of course, was the farthest thing from the truth.
Toward the end of eighth grade, one of my teachers pulled me aside one day to tell me they noticed I’d lost a lot of weight and were concerned about me. In my mind, I took that as a compliment. The concerned “you look skinny” comments were twisted by my brain into being the fuel to keep going.
In reality, I had lost a lot more than just weight. I lost my personality and ability to see the joy in life. I lost my menstrual cycle. I lost my ability to play soccer, something that I loved so much. I lost the enjoyment of food. I lost my ability to concentrate. I lost so many experiences with my friends.
The summer after eighth grade, I started to gain the weight back because I was away from school. At the time, I thought the weight gain meant I was recovered. But, it didn’t fix how I felt about myself. As a reaction, my body, which was so used to being starved for almost a year, began to overcompensate and I began to binge on large amounts of food in a short period of time in secrecy. The whole day after a binge, I felt immense guilt and restricted my food intake.
This awful cycle continued for a couple of years, and then eventually turned back into my old ways of restricting all the time. It was actually during this time that I started this Instagram blog account but under a different name: “Cut the C.R.A.P”, which stood for chemicals, refined sugars & flours, additives, and preservatives. I watched several fear-mongering documentaries about the food industry and followed unqualified “nutrition” influencers on Instagram. I thought that’s what being “healthy” was: eating only low-calorie foods and little carbs. In reality, this was extremely unhealthy. No one should ever feel like they have to cut something out of their diet.
My sophomore year of college is when the purging began. Living on a hall with dozens of girls meant that we all saw what each other ate, how much we exercised, and tried on each other's clothes to borrow. The internal competition–that I’m positive no one else knew they were a part of–elevated to a new level. I worked out every single day, and I didn’t care if that meant I missed out on spending time with my friends. At night, I purged. I was so out of touch with the cues from my body: when my body needed rest, when I was hungry or full, or even when I needed to use the bathroom. At that point, it got a little too real. My roommate and that same P.E. teacher from middle school (yes, we still talk regularly) had been telling me I need to fix my relationship with food, but for some reason, I felt like I had to come to that realization on my own.
So, I did something that took a lot of guts: I signed myself up for treatment. I finally realized that I was sick and tired of letting food and body image run my life. I wanted to be done with this stupid eating disorder for good this time. Finding the right treatment took many tries to get right, but I kept fighting. I finally got an evaluation done and ended up enrolling in Intense Outpatient Treatment at The Renfrew Center in Charlotte in the summer of 2019. I was about to study abroad and live with a host family for a semester, so it was important that I got as much done as I could before I left so I could continue with virtual therapy after.
While it definitely wasn’t fun to face my fears for hours on end, I learned SO much and broke free of the chains that bound me to a fear of food. I finally saw food for its beauty for the nutrients it provides us. Afterward, I continued to go to therapy, take my antidepressant medications, created an awesome support system, and educated myself about what a real healthy relationship with food looks like.
…That’s how Mindfully Murphy came to be! After going through IOP treatment, I revamped my Instagram blog and changed my logo, name, and mantra. I truly never knew life could be this fun and free without being tied down by disordered eating, so I wanted to share that joy with others. I made a website (www.mindfullymurphy.com) to expand upon my Instagram page to post recipes, blog posts, and sell energy bites.
To say that my energy bites changed my life is definitely an exaggeration, but they really did help me repair my relationship with food. I didn’t look at them for the calories or grams of fat or whatever, I looked at them as something that provides me energy (hence the name).
Now, I’m going to school to get my Master of Science in Human Nutrition to hopefully get my Registered Dietetics certification in order to finally make helping others with eating disorders a profession. Relationships with food can be so beautiful and I want to help people see that. I’m obviously not perfect (nobody is!) and I still have occasional bad days in terms of my relationship with food, so I want to let others know that that’s okay and it’s part of being human. We can be stronger together.