In part one, I took you down memory lane on one of my darkest paths. It ripped me up to write. At times I found myself with disbelief as I typed it, like– holy sh*t, that was my life? For so long? I felt heartbroken… for that phase of me that lasted way too long.
I felt heartbroken for people who are also suffering. And silent about it. (I’m still mad at myself for never telling my parents. It would have changed my entire life course.)
I also have high, high hopes for people who are suffering. Because I eventually had such high hopes for myself. And through it all, I did completely turn it around.
My imagination likes to picture a girl emerging from the rubble, smoke billowing. Walking into the light, a smile appearing on her face. Hands in prayer across my chest as I ask, now how will I turn this into something good?
Perhaps writing this is how. Being able to tell people who feel alone- I get it. And I believe in you to get OUT of it.
So many people feel alone. Like no one will understand them. Or no one will stick around after they tell their story. I’m here to tell you, most of that is in your head. There are people who will hear you, help you, encourage you. There are people who will relate- maybe not completely, but at certain capacities. Remember- everyone is going through shit.
If you are sinking, you can still get out. I was numbing with pills and starving myself day in and day out- without a doubt I felt trapped. Suffocated. But in the dark lies glimmers of hope and if you grab onto them, if you pay attention… you’ll make it through. One day you will wake up and will be able to do the work to get better.
I am proof of that. Millions of people on the earth are proof of that.
(A lot of them, like me, would slip but always kept getting back up…. keep getting back up.)
You. Can. Do. This.
Here’s my part 2 of how I got through it.
I think when you are suffering and in the throes of addiction or depression- there will be times that really rattle you back to reality. Enough of those times and you come to a place where you can’t ignore it.
One time was when my Grandpa cried when he saw how thin I had gotten. Angrily asking me “What the hell are you doing to yourself?”…. What the hell WAS I doing to myself??
One time was when my parents came to visit me and they saw me get out of the car, both of them looking me up and down and gasping. Wondering why. Just why. They looked so heartbroken… What was I putting my parents through??
Another time was when my Grandmother, who always acted as my mirror (she had struggled with similar demons in her younger years) gently… so, so sweetly, said to me… “If anything, just be honest with yourself about where you are. Just be honest.” She was battling cancer and I imagined her passing away and the last thing she knew of me was that I was struggling…. Would I ever be able to live that down??
Another time was when I went for 6 months without getting my period. Or every time I saw a doctor how they commented on my dropping weight and low vitals. Or how I came to not recognize my body without bruises… Don’t I want my vibrancy back??
Another time was when I sat on my bedroom floor at 3AM feeling like I was going to have a heart attack at any second (due to the excess of Adderall and not eating) I had 911 sitting on my screen ready to be dialed. Often I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, but this night told me I was really pushing my luck… How many more nights are you going to spend wondering if this is it??
…. there are moments that grab you by the shoulders and shake you, letting you know this isn’t just about you.
I was hurting my family and friends. And believe me- I have been blessed with the most beautiful relationships. Parents who love me, support me, have given me the BEST life and so much opportunity. Grandparents who had impacted who I was in such a positive way that when they left this earth I always knew pieces of them would forever be in me.
Best friends who have stood the test of time (They know exactly who they are.)
… My actions impacted way more than just me. Yes, I was hurting. But I was being selfish.
I started realizing this and yet I just didn’t know where to start.
I was also in slight denial of how bad I was. Are you in denial of something?
There are times when you really just can’t run from what you are facing. From what you are.
For example: My best friend in San Diego during these times was a girl named Hope. (Still best friends.) We worked together. She met me at my worst and loved me still. I think she wasn’t so clued into how bad I was because she had nothing to compare me to prior but she knew something was up. I remember one day we went for a drive over the Coronado bridge and on the way home I was making an excuse as to when I didn’t want to get dinner with her. She looked over at me and said (in the most nonchalant way, might I add– which almost made it comical), “Katey. You’re not having dinner because you’re anorexic.” … Umm… what? I was shocked she would say this point blank like that. She followed up with, “Oh I’ve talked about it with my boyfriend before. I love you, I don’t judge you, I don’t think it defines you, but you’re anorexic. I’m just not fooled. Like… love you girl, but not fooled.” She threw her sunglasses on and just went, “Anyways!!”
Metaphorical jaw drop. She just so ballsy called me out. I remember staring out the window so taken aback but also like…. huh- in a way, someone seeing me and still loving me is kind of a relief. And also– maybe I can’t hide as much as I think I can.
One night, my then boyfriend and I got into a fight because he told me he’d done research on “Eating Disorder’s Annonymous” groups and said that if I didn’t go, he was going to get my family and friends involved. I stormed out and walked home, tears burning in my eyes.
The next week I went to my first group meeting and I didn’t speak a word. I didn’t introduce myself and I sat there with my arms crossed, head down. Feeling like I wanted to be anywhere but there.
Afterwards, the group leader came up to me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here. First time is tough but I hope you keep coming back.”
I drove home telling myself I wouldn’t go back. That I didn’t need it. That I was strong enough on my own.
But that evening I was restless. Oddly emotional. A tug at my heart that I couldn’t ignore. And I knew exactly what it was vying for my attention.
This is where my faith comes into play. And believe me, anytime I have EVER been able to get over ANYTHING– my personal relationship with God has always played the biggest role. I’m not here to be preachy. Not here to tell people this is the only way. I’m just here to tell my story in all its truth.
I am a very self-reflective person. Very self-aware. I can pinpoint my entire life’s highs and lows with one single correlation: where I am at with God. When I’m thriving, full of gratitude, energy, and love for others– I am close to God. I am thanking him daily and casting all of my worries and desires on him. When I am furthest from God – I’m always at my worst. I am thinking I can do life on my own and I’m not coming to him. It’s a relationship I constantly have to work at.
In these dark years- I had thought I could do it on my own and I couldn’t. I needed God. Was struggling without God. Could see no light at the end of the tunnel without God.
I so desperately needed him. And I knew he was crying for me to come back.
I’ll never forget that evening I went walking in my neighborhood in downtown San Diego. I walked and prayed for what felt like an entire hour. The sunset felt longer that night and although there was tons of traffic around me, it all faded into nothing. Just as the street lights came on, I parked myself on a bench and just cried out to him. I needed guidance. I needed someone to talk to. I needed to be held. But most of all, I needed to be comforted.
And that’s exactly what I got. Never have I so profoundly felt God’s love than that night. I can’t explain exactly what happened, but I knew there was a beautiful life ahead of me after that moment.
Over the next six months, I committed to going to meetings twice a week. I got off most of the pills; except Adderall- which I knew was going to be my toughest to kick. I did not get off Adderall until just ~2 years ago, October 2016 to be exact. I did, however, stop abusing it at this time.
In all honesty, the starving continued those 6 months I went to meetings. But I knew that when I was finally ready to give it up- I would be equipt with all the mental and emotional tools to do so.
Those meetings made me face my reality. It was such a blessing because it gave me a space to not bullshit and really talk through what was going on. No one there judged because they had their own shit going on. They also empathized. Being there also gave me purpose because not only was I showing up week after week for myself, I was showing up for other women. We all were making commitments to ourselves and each other (accountability) to get better. Just as I drew strength and clarity from their unique perspectives and stories, they drew strength and clarity from mine.
I can’t stress this enough: helping others helps YOU. Please take advantage of this. Add something positive to the world while you add to yourself. The secret to happiness is helping others.
I thought about women in general when it comes to suffering. How we wage war on our bodies. Eating too little, eating too much, too much stagnation, too much overdrive, too much picking apart… the list goes on and on.
When I decided to stop waging war on myself was when I moved to San Francisco. I left my relationship, left a lifestyle that wasn’t suited for me, left my behaviors and old habits behind.
I made a promise to God, my family, and my friends that I was going to turn it around and never look back. And you know what? I meant it- I really, really meant it. And I’ve held that promise since.
I thanked God that he had helped me ween off of pills, that he gave me that internal push to go to those meetings, that he placed people in my life that I could be open with. People who continue to infiltrate my life even four years later.
The first few months were both magical and scary. I remember not being able to make it up big hills in San Francisco at first. I remember having so much anxiety eating in front of people. Not to mention just rediscovering myself as a person.
“What does it look like when a normal person grocery shops? How much is normal to eat at meals?” These were things I didn’t know anymore.
I also had to train myself to recognize behaviors or thought patterns- how I had to stomp them out immediately or risk falling back in again. Like I knew I couldn’t count calories otherwise I’d become obsessive again. Or something simple like putting the damn butter on the toast. (I hadn’t put butter on toast in years to save calories.) Or ordering an entree instead of an appetizer. To this day, I still need to be careful whenever I start to lose weight. I know I need to tread lightly otherwise I could become addicted to that “control” again.
Gaining weight was hard. “Soon my clothes will not fit but that’s a POSITIVE sign that I’m going in the right direction”. I had to be ready for it, accepting of it. It was tough, there were days I looked in the mirror at my changing body and didn’t recognize the person staring back. But, in my soul, I knew I was doing better.
It wasn’t ALL smooth sailing though. I remember dating a guy as I was purposely trying to gain weight and I was worried he wouldn’t be as attracted to me as I got my curves back. Now, I love my curves! I realize that honestly, it’s what’s natural for me and don’t want to fight it.
It took me a few years to really feel confident in my body again. But it didn’t take long for me to feel confident in my heart and brain again! I think men care more about the latter. And we should care more about the latter.
What was magical was being reminded just how INCREDIBLE food is. How it brings people together, how it truly fuels you, how it adds memories to moments. I remember once sitting at the top of a hill with my journal, enjoying a frozen yogurt by myself as the sun set and I thought, “damn, this is really, really nice.” To think I hadn’t had a moment like that in God knows how long.
I’d write in my journal, letters to God about how I was doing. How I was experiencing life through new eyes and how I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me. Not being numb from pills- life really opened up for me. The world was suddenly full of color and beauty I had been missing for years.
My friendships came back stronger than ever. Family started seeing me all the time again- we were so, so happy. I also had nieces in my life that started to see me more often. I wanted to be strong for them. Again that reminder- it’s not just about you.
What I’m really happy about is that when my Grandma ended up passing that year, she got to see me as I was getting stronger. She got to see me thriving again, that twinkle in my eye. I thanked God for that. It brought me so much peace.
If anything– find your strength and your “why” in the people who love you. If you can’t do something for yourself, do it for them.
There are plenty of times when temptations to not eat or take a pill arise. Yes, even still. And when I personally don’t have the strength, I think of my Mom’s face. Of my Dad’s laugh. Of my girlfriends. Or Dan. And I don’t partake. It’s true- their love is enough for me.
It has been four years since I recovered. FOUR! In those four years, I traded my obsessive behaviors (starving) for obsessively studying health and nutrition- something positive, so that I could be the best ME. It has served me well and I’ve been able to make a career out of it with Violet Fog. I now view the body as so strong and beautiful- the comeback I have made is incredible! God so perfectly created the human body and I believe in its ability so much. I get GREAT joy out of sharing my research on holistic health with others. Like I’m doing something positive not just for myself but for others.
I now have people who not only will hold me accountable but find happiness and security in NOT seeing me self-destruct. Giving them that peace of mind means a LOT to me. I couldn’t put them through that again. I’ll stress it one more time: if you can’t do it for others… do it for your people. (If you tell me you have no one, I’ll probably tell you to try God. Not because I want to be preachy or believe there are no other ways, but to say, it’s the one and only thing that worked for me. It could work for you too!)
And be careful with who you surround yourself with. Personally, I could no longer be around people who placed an insanely high premium around appearance (partially why I gave up my career in fashion) and people who did not love the real me.
Today, I have friends I can talk to. A family who cares (who always cared- there’s no way I could ever doubt that.) A man who keeps me in check and has shown me a love that I know was heaven sent. I’m so damn lucky. How could I ever go back?
At the end of the day, when people ask me how I did it, how I got through: It’s God. It’s all God. It’s the strength he instilled in me. It’s the courage to let people in. It’s being brutally honest with myself. It’s a commitment to stay healthy. It’s love and energy that I use to serve other people.
It’s… the people in your life. More than it is you. That’s how you’ll get through.
Photo by the SUPER talented (and based in SF): Katie Weinholt
Written by your home girls at The Violet Fog