I am realizing that as I’ve been working on Rachel Allene Wellness for months I’ve never really taken the time to tell you the longer version of my story and why this matters so much to me. You see, there’s a lot more to my “journey to wellness” than what meets the eye. I’ve been on this journey since my freshman year of college and I’ve been through incredibly low-lows and a few highs. But mostly lows. I know that is sad to read, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve seen some “highs” that came from the hardest experience of my life.
Because this is such a sensitive part of my life and because it’s such a long story, I plan to spread out my “journey” into multiple blog posts.
So, where did this all begin?
Well, when I went to college I was deathly scared to gain the “freshman 15” and I began to develop unhealthy thought patterns around food. At this point, I didn’t stop eating, but I was incredibly obsessive about food and it brought a lot of stress and anxiety for me. I was living on campus and eating cafeteria food so I didn’t have complete control. And this is where it started. Where I began to need and crave control over what I ate and lack of control sent me spiraling.
I remember talking to one of my best friends every single day about how scared I was about gaining weight and would be stressed every single time I had to eat or I was put in a situation where “healthy” food wasn’t offered.
It ruled my life. I was constantly stressed and constantly worried.
The school year ended and I moved back home for a few months. I decided to do something about my eating and I finally had control back. I could eat less, exercise more. It would be perfect and I would finally be happy.
I lost a few pounds and felt better. Sorta.
School started back up and I remember moving into my new dorm and one of my guy friends telling me I looked great. So, if I lost some weight and I look great, then I should lose more...or so I thought.
At the same time, most of my friends were finding new boyfriends and living their best lives. I was not. I was sad, lonely, and dead set on losing lots of weight.
I would eat the absolute bare minimum. I cut out fats, didn’t eat after dinner, and spent most of my free time in my room alone. I survived on a banana, scoop of oatmeal, rice cakes, and a few small salads each day. I was paralyzed by fear that going to restaurants or going to someone’s house for dinner was literally my worst nightmare. I didn’t know what I would do if I was faced with having to eat something that had fat in it. I remember not going to events or parties I was invited to because of this debilitating fear. Writing this all down is quite emotional for me since it is such a deep, dark wound in my life.
Because it was so challenging, I truly believe that my mind tried to forget what happened.
I do remember small snippets of this season of my life. I would call my mom every day and cry about how sad and lonely I was. I look back on this time and I don’t fully recognize this person. She feels so drastically different than the person I am today.
There came a time when everything would need to change. But I was scared about making the decision and didn’t know which decision I should make.
In October of 2011, I traveled home for a wedding and sat down on my parents couch and cried to them about how sad I was. I don’t remember really talking about my eating habits (or lack thereof), because I wasn’t in a place to recognize that it was a problem. But I knew I was sad. In this conversation, we collectively decided that I needed to move home for a short time. The semester would be ending in December and I would finish up my finals and move home for the Spring semester. At the time, I had full intentions of coming back the following school year to finish up my degree.
I moved home, weary and tired. But knew I was not at the place I should be and that there was greater joy available. Even though I didn’t think I had an eating disorder, I knew that something was wrong. So, I decided to go to counseling, take time to myself, and learn how to love who I was. I spent a lot of time alone and got really into cooking and baking. At the time, this (sadly) was a way for me to experience food without having to eat it. This was the beginning of me learning how to cook and know more about food and what’s actually healthy.