“My name is Katie Carr and I’m 26 years old. I spent the majority of my youth dreaming of having a different body, a slimmer, thinner look, so I didn’t have to deal with the realities of what it’s like to be a curvy young woman in today’s society. I matured early in life, which meant I dealt with the attention from the opposite sex at a young age. I did not realize what I was engaging in was actually bulimia.
When I was about 15 or 16, I contracted the swine flu which made me lose almost half of my weight. I started receiving positive compliments about the way I looked. I remember eating my first full meal after barely surviving and immediately throwing up and feeling a rush through my body. Was it that I was still sick, or was it a realization that I could continue to eat and not put the weight I had lost back on? What comes next is years of battling negative self talk, horrible relationships, and defeating the ugly beast itself, bulimia.
I entered my first rehab while I was still trying to complete high school. The days were filled with different therapies, group activities, and discovering myself through yoga. I had to sit with a bunch of other people battling anorexia and bulimia and try to eat in front of the supervisors who would stay with us during the day. We would then be followed to the bathroom, and monitored. I had to spend Christmas there, which I didn’t realize how much of a toll it took on my own family. Eating disorders are very selfish and in a way they make you focus so much on yourself that you tend to forget about the rest of the world. I worked day and night journaling, processing emotions through therapy, yet there was still something missing. The bulimia still had a hold on me.
I returned back home where I attended dayhab programs for people suffering from eating disorders and was able to finish high school. I still struggled. I had never been at this low of a point in my life as I did when I was struggling through this disease. There would be days where I would just almost float through, not really feeling my pulse, not really knowing if I existed. My eyes had no light, I wasn’t there. The eating disorder, ‘Ed’ as we called it, was there.
I have been to two other rehab settings where I struggled beyond belief. Feeding tubes, heart rates dropping, feeling my bones press against the wooden chairs where I tried to express my feelings as a young woman.
The last rehab stay that I had, I made friends that would last a lifetime, but that didn’t matter to me. No matter how much the doctors and therapists pushed me, I pushed back. I once had a therapist tell me that I was tenacious. I never fully understood what that meant until I realized how stubborn I actually am. I was so stubborn that I would put myself in situations just so I didn’t have to do what I was being told to do. My body was in survival mode. They made me walk around with a feeding tube out of my nose, so I did what my sassy self wanted to do. I took that feeding tube and made it look very pretty and put it up into my messy bun, walking around with pride. I would get a high off of pushing back every time they put me in front of a plate of food that I didn’t eat and I would have to get ensure dripped down into my feeding tube. I realize now that my sassiness was always there, but it was being used in the wrong way.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in a therapy session that I had a breakthrough. Past traumas came flooding out of me and it was almost a release. For some reason I was ready to feel and relive those memories. I am not here to share personal names or stories, I am just here to bring awareness to those who are suffering – and to the loved ones who are watching them suffer – that usually there is a root cause. Yes, this disease could be a chemical issue within your body, or you are genetically predisposed to this, but I find that many individuals who have been abused either sexually, verbally, or emotionally tend to turn to eating disorders so they can control the one thing that is coming in and out of their body.
The truth is the hurt and pain didn’t stop there; it turned to other things that I used to cope with the memories and flashbacks. I ended up putting myself through many years of intensive EMDR Therapy.
It was in that office that I forgave, I processed, and I learned that there are some people that we cannot have in our lives. We cannot change anyone or circumstances, but we can change the way that it affects us. One thing that I did learn throughout my journey is that emotions can actually be controlled. Sometimes we feel like we are losing control because the emotions that we are feeling are too much. Yet, when you take that leap of faith, you put on that shield, and you dive into your issues, you then truly start living.
How do I live every day without having my eating disorder control me? I took control of the eating disorder. People ask me all the time, Katie, how do you do it? How do you walk around with a smile on your face and a positive attitude? My answer is it’s a choice. You either choose to let negative energies dictate your day, or you can choose to put a smile on your face.
To this day, I still have fleeting thoughts. Maybe people would like me better if I looked a different way, maybe I shouldn’t talk so much, maybe I shouldn’t dress the way that I do, maybe I shouldn’t put that bold lipstick on. But you know what I do? I tell myself to own it! I look myself in the mirror and I truly see the reflection of the most strongest, loving, funny, beautiful, brilliant woman I have ever seen in my life looking right back at me. I am alive today by no accident, God has a tremendous plan for me.”
Submitted by Katie Carr of North Tonawanda. Share this story if you believe in the power of self love. ❤️