Category Archives: Health

When the Pain Wins

I’m laying in bed, begging my brain to go to sleep, but my thoughts are too focused on the hundreds of tasks left undone. The laundry that still lies, unfolded, in the basket. The dishes that still sit, unwashed, in the kitchen. The table, covered in papers and crayons, that needs to be cleaned off. The floor, sprinkled with dirt, that need to be swept and mopped. 

But here I sit, not doing any of it. And it’s not because I don’t want to do it. Because I want, more than anything, to have the strength and energy to get everything cleaned, put away, and organized. But I can’t. My body physically can’t do it. The pain I feel on a daily basis. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Second by second. The pain destroys me. Little by little, the pain pecks away at my joy and happiness and excitement. The pain steals my abilities from me. The pain is a slow and silent killer.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve been told, “it can’t hurt THAT bad,” or “it’s not even possible to be in that much pain all the time,” or “just think positive,” or “be more active,” or “it only hurts that much because you let it.”

Most people, if they can’t understand something, will deny what you’re going through. If it makes no sense to them, then it must not be an issue. 

Chronic pain. “Well, at least it’s not cancer.” “You’re so lucky that you get to lay in bed all day.” “It must be nice to be so lazy.”

I would literally give anything to have my life back that I had four years ago. I was able to run. I could lift. I could eat. I could enjoy my life. But my health took a downward spiral. Surgery after surgery after surgery…each knife has taken more from me than the previous one. And now, I’m painfully holding on to my ability to walk. 

I look back at my life and I think about all the times I took my body for granted. I used to be a runner. I used to be a personal trainer. But Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome took that from me. The constant pain takes a mental toll over time. 

I’ve always struggled with depression and anxiety – I think, for as long as I can remember. But as I entered adulthood, I seemed to be able to control it. Running and working out helped a lot also. But after a while, I was in constant pain, so I finally went to the doctor. That’s when I was diagnosed and subsequently had multiple surgeries. After 3 years, I regret almost all of the surgeries I have had. I’m in more pain now than I ever was to begin with. Most days, just walking has me on he verge of tears. 

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I can try another surgery or I can take pain meds. But nothing will ever actually solve the root of the problem. 

But I’m the midst of my pain, I’m also a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee, a coworker. I’m a lot of things to a lot of people. But sometimes, I’m in so much pain that I can’t be anything to anyone.

Thankfully, those closest to me are understanding. They accept me even when I can’t get out of bed because the pain is so high. My kids have had to be more mature than others their same age because of the things that I’m unable to do. I can only hope that as they get older, they’ll understand the value of their health and of their bodies. 

I just don’t want to hurt any more. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep up with life. I just wish there was something to look forward to. But I know that I will never in my life get to experience a day without pain. 

So now what….

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Hope in the Emptiness

When you live with depression, nothing in life is as it used to be. You try pushing through the pain and living your life as usual, but it becomes a nightmare you can’t wake up from. The people closest to you may notice something is wrong, but they don’t know how to help you. 

Someone once told me that depression is like a broken leg. If your leg is broken, you stay off of it, you use crutches and allow it to heal. You don’t try running on it and then get angry when it stays broken. Depression is the same thing. When you’re depressed you need to give yourself time to heal and recover. You can’t just push through it and keep living your life as usual – it won’t heal that way. You have to acknowledge it and care for yourself. 

The hard part about caring for yourself when you’re depressed is the guilt. No one else can see the pain you’re in. No one else knows how bad you’re hurting. The people around you just want you to be happy and they don’t understand that that’s physically not possible for you. So you spend time in bed even though there are dishes that need to be done. You sit in the shower for an hour, crying, even though the house needs to be vacuumed. You watch TV even though the laundry needs to be put away. 

You’re trying, with everything you have, to appear to be a functioning member of society, when in reality you’re just wasting away. 

Nothing makes sense anymore. This isn’t the life you once knew and you’re wondering where you went wrong. You have a good life. You have people who love you. So why are you so miserable? Why can’t you find happiness? 

Well, it’s not about you. It’s not about your life. It’s not about how loved you are or how many people care about you. It’s a legitimate medical condition. It’s the chemicals in your brain. It may take medication to help you fee whole again, and that’s okay! 

You are worth so much more than what depression tells you. Don’t let yourself believe the lies. Don’t let yourself succumb to the emptiness. Seek help. Let others in. Talk about it.

 
I promise, it won’t last forever.  


Will You Hope With Me?

It’s been over 7 months since I penned my last post. If you want to know the truth as to why, it’s because I’ve been fighting an intense battle within myself. A battle of whether or not to eat the meal. A battle of whether or not I should run the mile. A battle of whether or not I should continue living. 

As most of you already know, I struggle with debilitating mental illness. For many years, my life has been a struggle of ups and downs. I’ve been okay and I’ve been completely crumbled and broken. I’ve been happy and I’ve been engulfed with despair. And now, I’m in a place where I have never been before. I have no fight left in me. I’m tired. I’m scared. I want to be free. I want to feel joy. I want to be healthy. But to move on and experience life, I have to push through all the things I’ve spent nearly 29 years running from. 

So, in order to be the me that God made me to be, I’m taking a leap of faith and going to a residential treatment program for eating disorders. I’m leaving within the next week and that terrifies me. But THIS is the only life I have known. THIS is the only me I have known.

I am a control freak. There are very few things in this life that are within my control, but one of those things is my eating disorder. I hate my eating disorder, but I love it at the same time – which is something that most people cannot understand. It’s like being held hostage and unable to break free, but once it takes its hold, the captor becomes comforting and reliable. When the rest of the world is chaotic and nothing makes sense, ED brings me comfort. ED is like a trusty friend who will always pick me up when I’m down. ED loves me and I love ED. It’s a dangerous and toxic relationship that I don’t know how to get out of. 

I feel like those closest to me want answers. They want to know why. The want to know how. They want to know the “truth” about why I feel the way I do. But explaining these things to someone who has never stood in my shoes and experienced the things I’ve experienced, is the most difficult thing in the world. 

From a “logical” perspective, all of this seems ridiculous. I feel lonely, so I isolate. I feel hungry, so I don’t eat. I feel full and satisfied, so I purge. I feel anger, so I want to hurt myself. I am capable of stepping outside of myself and seeing how all of this makes absolutely no sense. But that doesn’t change the dynamic inside my very sick brain.

Although it may not look like I’m really trying, I am. Although it may look like I’m just blaming others for my problems, I’m not. Although it may appear that I’m trying to “get out of” being an adult, I’m not. 

If you’ve never had a mental illness or addiction, there really is no way that you can understand the horror that goes through my mind every day. However, I appreciate your support and compassion. I don’t need “tough love” or hostility. So if that’s what you have to offer, please kindly go away. 

Right now, I am fragile and extremely over sensitive. It’s hard to think rationally or logically when your brain and body are malnourished. So please stop telling me that I should “know better” or that I should “be able to control it” – because right now, those statements only add fuel to the fire. 

I am very unstable – thus the need for treatment, to get to a place where I am stable; to get to a place where taking my own life does NOT seem like a viable option. 

I am sick. It’s not just my mental health anymore, my physical health is beginning to crumble as well. And  even though it’s taken me many years to admit it, I can finally see that I need help. I need help and I deserve help. I deserve love and happiness and joy and acceptance. God says that I am worthy of love and its up to me to decide whether or not I will believe Him.

If you’ve known me for a while, you are probably tired of my “excuses” or fed up with my “inability to take responsibility for my actions.” I can understand what it looks like from your perspective and I am sorry that I haven’t “gotten better” yet. I’m sorry that you have had to bear the pain of my mistakes. I sincerely wish I could take back every time I have caused you pain. But I can’t. All I can do now is try to move forward and hope that, one day, we can all find forgiveness. 

All that I ask is for you to please, try to see things from my point of view as well. Please give me space to be able to move on. I am trying to learn how to set HEALTHY boundaries with those I love. Please be patient with me. 

I have hope that I will be able to experience freedom within this lifetime. Will you Hope with me?


Walking the Borderline

About a year ago, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Although I didn’t receive a diagnosis until 27, I have displayed the signs of a borderline since I was probably about 11. I have extreme issues in regulating my emotions, impulsivity and recklessness, and unstable relationships. 

 

I’m writing this to invite you to walk the borderline with me.

The diagnostic criteria for BPD are…

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.  

You see, borderlines do not know how to handle rejection or abandonment. There’s something in our brains that tells us it’s always going to happen and that someone must be abandoning us if that don’t respond to us.

I’ve lived, pretty much, my entire life in fear of abandonment. And my obsession with avoiding abandonment almost certainly guarantees it. 

 

2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationship.

When we meet a new person who we connect with, we instantly love them. This often makes us look psychotic and pushes people away. We love deeply, but we are terrified of intimacy and connection. When we want to cling, we often claw instead.   
 

3. Identity disturbances.

People will tell you, “just be yourself.” But that is nearly impossible for a borderline. We don’t know who we are or where we fit in, in this world. Is my favorite color purple because it’s MY favorite color? Or is it because someone else wanted it to be? I don’t know anymore. I try to not wear masks and be real with people…but that’s hard when it’s all you’ve ever known.

To this day, at 27 years old, I have no clue who I am. I am a chameleon. I can fit in with anyone because I change depending on where I am.   

 

4. Impulsivity in at least 2 areas that are self-damaging. 

This is so much more than just “resisting temptation”. When a borderline gets the impulse to do something, it will literally consume their thoughts until they do it. Many of us spend too much, shoplift, drive too fast, drink, do drugs, or have eating disorders. It’s nearly impossible for us to just walk away from a self-destructive impulse. And this sucks! 

 

5. Recurrent suicidal thoughts/behaviors and/or self mutilating behavior.

As many as 75% of borderlines cut themselves and 10% commit suicide. It’s one of the most dangerous mental illnesses. Self-mutilating and suicide are often the only way we can see to get the pain to end. 

For me, self-harm was always a reminder to me that I’m still alive. I get so numb at times, that I just need a reminder that I can still feel.  

 6. Mood instability – cycles of mania, anxiety, irritability, depression, or anger lasting a few hours but no more than a few days.

People around us often live in fear of not knowing what our mood will be like one moment to the next. But we fear that too. We hate not knowing when the depression is going to hit. It’s a living hell. As much as you hate walking on eggshells around us, we hate it too.  

 

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.

We feel completely alone and scared in this world. We feel completely empty, like we’re just a shell of a person. We don’t know how to get away from this empty, numb feeling within ourselves.  

 

8. Inappropriate, intense anger.

The slightest injustice, to us, turns into a great travesty. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ve exploded in fits of anger and been told I was selfish and immature because I didn’t get my way. But it’s so much more than that. It’s so much more than “not getting our way”. We’re not very flexible, it’s not by choice – we try to go with the flow, and sudden alterations in plan effect us emotionally.  

 

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

Have you ever driven a familiar road and once you got to your destination, realized you didn’t remember a portion of the drive? That’s dissociation. Borderlines often dissociate in response to stress that we don’t know how to handle. It’s not something that we do consciously, but our brains do it instinctively as a defense mechanism. Our physical beings continue to function, while our mental beings become disconnected.  

 

Being a borderline is literally like a living hell at times. I view the world much differently than those around me. Because I don’t remember things the same way as others, I’ve been told I’m dramatic or a liar – which leads me to questioning my own memories. 

Borderlines feel things MUCH, MUCH deeper than everyone else. Which means that we’re often criticized for being overly sensitive or too emotional. Which then leads us to feel guilty for our own emotions. That guilt, in turn, causes us to make ourselves numb to our own emotions. We literally only have the two extremes – overly emotional or completely numb, there is no in between. And some days, I’m not sure which is worse.  

 Many people will walk out of our lives and “give up” on us because it is difficult to love us, but we don’t do it on purpose. We hate that we have to live this way. And often we question God, wondering why He made us with defective emotions. 

Many of us were abused, in some way, as children. This abuse taught us at a young age that fear and love went together. That trust meant pain. That closeness meant agony. So we learned to live shallow lives and never let anyone into the deepest, darkest areas of our lives.  

 

Sometimes, all we need is someone to validate our emotions. We need those who love us, not to enable us, but to reassure us that we’re not “crazy” for feeling the way we do. 

Psychiatrists and therapists fear us the most. Most don’t know how to treat us – they fear treating us due to our high propensity towards suicide. 

We have no “internal governor.” We can feel profound love simultaneously with deep rage – and if that confuses you, just imagine how we feel. We hate living this way. We’re sorry for the effect we have on your life, please know that we don’t do it on purpose.

If we trust you, don’t take that lightly. If we love you, we’re taking a big step out of our comfort zones. And if you can’t handle the bumpy road ahead, get out now before anyone gets hurt.  

 

Like I’ve said before, we’re just trying to get through this world the only way we know how. 


For Those Who Don’t Understand

Living with a mental illness can often be a living hell. Before you try to tell me I’m being dramatic, you should reasses how you view mental illness. The name, in and of itself, says ILLNESS. It’s not a choice I make. I don’t CHOOSE to be depressed. I don’t CHOOSE to be anxious. I don’t CHOOSE to be emotionally unstable. And yet, I am all of those things.  

 I know many people who, although they mean well, simply don’t get it. I’ve been told, “just be happy,” or “stop worrying,” or “can’t you just calm down,” or “just be normal, like everyone else.” The problem with all of these statements is that it completely invalidates who I am and what I feel. What if you told someone with a broken leg to just get up and walk? Unless you’re Jesus, you just sound like an idiot. Same concept.  

 My feelings, while you may not understand them (and don’t worry, because I often don’t understand them either), are just as legitimate as yours. My life might look okay from the outside, so you can’t understand why I feel the way I do. But on the inside, I’m a mess of emotions and chaos. You may not understand my overwhelming fear of being in large crowds or my tendency to completely shut down when I’m upset, but that doesn’t make it any less real. 

We live in a world that caters to healthy people. But when you’re healthy, you don’t realize how true that is. Until you’ve fought a war against yourself, every day of your life, you can’t understand how hard it is to function in a world that isn’t made for you. 

 I’m tired of being ashamed and trying to hide my mental illness. Because you know what, Jesus loves me even with my self-harm scars and anxiety and watery eyes and depression and PTSD and my inability to focus – He loves all of me. And if Jesus isn’t ashamed of my mental illness, then why should I be. 

So next time you meet someone who seems a bit more anxious than you think necessary or more sad than you think they should be, try having some compassion instead of judgement. Those of us with mental illnesses feel our emotions – whether happy or sad, on a much deeper level than most.  

 We’re not trying to make your life more difficult. We’re simply trying to get through life the only way we know how. 


My Life With Chronic Illness

Last year, I was diagnosed with Elhers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS effects my body’s college production and leaves all of my connective tissues – mainly my joints, feeling weak and hypermobile. I’m constantly in pain, and yet I get accused of being whiney or dramatic.   
I have had joint pains my entire life. As a kid, I was told that it was just growing pains. I learned to understand that being in pain was just my normal, and I didn’t know for a long time that it wasn’t normal for everyone. I have already undergone 4 surgeries and have at least 1 more surgery pending. 

  
Most recently, after 6 weeks of intense headaches and random vision disturbances, I went to the eye doctor for a routine eye exam and he sent me straight to the ER. My optic nerves were swollen and bleeding. The last few days have been a whirlwind and I received a diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC). With PTC, my brain is essentially reacting like I have a tumor, but there is no tumor. I’ve had two ER visits in the last 48 hours and have lost part of vision (hopefully only temporary). 

  
I feel like there’s something wrong with me. I keep asking why this is happening to me. I ask why I’m in so much pain. But no one can really tell me….it’s just the luck of the draw.

  
Chronic illness and chronic pain are miserable. No one understands it. People think I look fine, so I should feel fine…but most of the time I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. 

  
Today, I’m in incredible pain from a lumbar puncture. I want to feel “normal” and not be in so much pain. I want to function at my normal level or productivity…but I simply can’t. 

  
Some days are good and some days are bad. I feel like my life is like a wheel of future, I never know where it’s going to stop. 

  
I often have to cancel plans with friends because my pain level gets too high. Or I struggle to get out of bed because it hurts to move.

  
So, I ask you to stop thinking I’m whiney or dramatic and understand that my life is much, much different than yours.


Expect the Unexpected

It’s so frustrating when life takes an unexpected turn that you weren’t prepared for. This past week has been a rough one for me – for our whole family. Emotions are swirling around me in a chaotic whirlwind and I’ve simply been trying to keep my head above water.

Over this past weekend, we had to make the very hard decision to put down our precious puppy dog. He’s such a sweet boy and we love him dearly. He’s great with the kids and he’s so loving and affectionate and we are so heart broken to have to say good bye.

After spending most of Sunday in tears over having to make this decision, Monday turned out to not be much better.

Monday, my husband called me to inform me that he was going to be deploying soon…VERY soon. My heart sank and I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. It was like someone had reached into my chest and literally stolen the breath right out of my lungs. I sat in my car and sobbed as I was just overwhelmed by fear. I called a friend, and I’m pretty sure she probably had a hard time understanding me through my hysterical sobs. I tend to live and die by my emotions, so I’m very thankful for friends who are willing to interrupt my chaotic feelings with truth and reason (even though I would never admit that to them).

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Now that I’ve calmed down over the initial shock of re-entering into a season of deployment, I’m beginning to understand the importance of the mission my husband is being called to do…even though I don’t like it one bit.

So then, yesterday, I went to see my surgeon for a follow up from my sesamoidectomy, almost 8 weeks ago. He is pleased with my progress and how well my foot in healing. However, I also had an ingrown toenail (in the surgery foot) that had to be cut out. I also had some concerns about some pain I was having on the top of my foot and he told me that, because I am have been walking on the side of my foot instead of evenly distributing weight through my foot, I am quickly on my way to a stress fracture if I don’t correct my gait – so I’ll be starting physical therapy next week. And if that’s not enough, he also told me that because of the drastic instability of both my ankles, he wants me to consider a brostrom procedure on both ankles to help stabilize them. I’m a bit anxious about the thought of another surgery, but I’m considering it because if I go through with it, I will be able to run again without such a high risk of injury.

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So life this week has been chaotic and I’ll be happy when things settle down. But I’m also very thankful for where I’m at and where I’ve been and how God is going to use me from here.

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To Run or Not to Run…

Why is running so important to me? – That’s a really good question. I’m not sure if I can fully answer it, but I’ll try.

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I was never a runner in my child or adolescent years. In fact, I hated running. Running was the bane of my existence. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough in most things I did, and running only backed up that thought. I always said I “couldn’t” run. I didn’t know how to breathe and I didn’t know how to handle the ache in my muscles. So I just stuck to swimming – I loved swimming. Being in the water was, quite possibly, one of the best feelings to me. I was not, nor would I ever be, a runner…or so I thought.

Then, one day last May, I decided I wanted to run. The thought was insane. I hated running, why did I want to run? But I gave in to the thought and I ran. And you know what, I fell in love with it. Even at 240 pounds and even though I could barely run a quarter mile without thinking I was going to die, I fell in love with it and I kept trying.

Running was the first thing in my life that was hard for me and I knew would be a challenge, but I kept going anyway. You see, I’m my own worst critic and I’ve never been very confident in my ability to do anything. When confronted with anything that might be hard or challenging, anything that there was even a possibility of me failing at, I would quit. Quitting was easier than trying and failing…or so I thought at the time.

So back to why running is so important to me, running taught me a very important life lesson. Running taught me that, if I was willing to try, I would find out that I was capable of much more than I thought I was – both mentally and physically. Running became a release for me. When I had a bad day, I ran. When I had a good day, I ran. When I was sad, I ran. When I was happy, I ran…you get the picture.

Then, running became an addiction and it took over my life. I lived and breathed running. I got injured, but I kept running.

Now, as I’m recovering from surgery to remove the sesamoid bone that I shattered…from continuing to run on an injured foot, I am reassessing my deep desire to run again. Last month, I was told by my rheumatologist that I should NEVER run again. I have a rare disorder called Elhers-Danlos Syndrome that effects my joints (and many other parts of my body). Because of this disorder, my joints are very loose and I have had frequent dislocations and sprains of my joints, throughout my life. My ankles and knees are some of my most unstable joints and, obviously, running is not very productive when then joints in the legs are weak.

But running brings me so much joy. I can’t really just STOP running altogether, can I? I mean, running does not define me. Whether or not I run is not the most important part of my life, and I do recognize that…but to be totally honest, I’m just not ready to give it up. So I’ve been doing some research. My joints will never be as stable as most peoples joints, but there are things I can do to protect them. There are things I can do to run again.

I’m not going to give up on running. I will protect my joints and I will be smart about it. But I will still run. It may not be much, and that’s okay.

Being a runner is so much more than running. It’s the determination and the drive to want more for myself and my life than I ever dreamed possible. It’s the willingness to dream big and do the work necessary to achieve those dreams. Being a runner has given me to confidence to also face struggles in other aspects of my life because if I can run, I can do anything. I am an overcomer!

I refuse to let this disorder control my life. Some of the most joyful times in my life have been during a good run and I will not give that up without a fight.

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Jesus, I Need You

You ever have one of those days where the enemy feels the need to remind you of every bad thing you’ve ever done in your life? Yup, today was one of those…this was my response – I had a talk with Jesus.

Jesus, I Need You
Here I stand broken
I’ve got nothing to bring
I’m holding on to the lies
Like a cat on a string
I’ve pierced my own skin
And denied Your truth
I’ve gotten lost in my mind
And I let go of You
Jesus, I need You

My stomach is empty
Poison courses my veins
My body is fading
I can’t handle this shame
You say You can reach
All the way out to me
But I feel just one step
Too far to be free
Jesus, I need You

If You know my heart
You know my evil thoughts
I once held on to You
But I let go and I’m lost
I’m trying to fight
The lies and temptations
But few things can compare
To power of starvation
Jesus, I need You

My sin is enclosing
Around my every side
The truth is fading
While I cling to the lies
I worthless and useless
You’ll never love me
The voices keep screaming
That You can’t save me
Am I too far gone
To receive Your grace
Your love and Your mercy
I’m just a disgrace
Jesus, I need You

I’m crying to You
As loud as I can
My ground has been shaken
And I can no longer stand
My voice, it cracks
As I beg You to answer
Because, Lord, if You don’t
My heart won’t endure
If You can’t save me
I have nothing left
The only choice I will have
Is to end it in death
Jesus, I need You

Then I heard Him…
“Daughter, You have me.
I’ve always been right here
So let me confront you with truth
In the midst of your fear
You are faced with two choices
Only you can make
You can wallow in pity
Or admit your mistakes
It comes down to one question
Do you believe
That I died on a cross
Nails in my hands and feet
I was scared too
Just like you are now
But even then I loved you
Enough to pour my blood out
You could never pay
The price of your own sin
My death on that cross
Is the only way You’ll see Him
I conquered death
And I took on satan
So that you could be free
From this life you are living
So tell me, is that enough
For you to trust
Will you stop fighting
And just give it up
Or are you gonna tell me
That my death was in vain
That I died on that cross
Just to feel the pain
I died for you
So that you could live
I’ve made your heart new
You’ve been forgiven
I didn’t deserve
The death I received
It was meant for you
But I took it on Me
So don’t you yet see
That I want to help you
If you’ll give me your hand
Just trust that I can rescue
You must make a choice
So what will you choose
My arms are always open
Just waiting for you.”

Jesus, I am so sorry
For my doubt and control
Please take it all
My heart, mind, and soul
I need you to heal me
I need your strength
I’m scared and confused
But I’ll trust what You say
Jesus, I need You


You’re My Inspiration

When I first started running, other runners and people in the gym intimidated me. I was no where near as fit or as thin as they were and I assumed that they were all judging me. I was fat and out of shape. I was miserable in my own skin and I failed to see my own beauty.

I’ve struggled with body image, as I’m sure most women in our society have, for much of my life. I’ve been thin and I’ve been fat. I’ve battled anorexia and bulimia and compulsive over eating. My mind has been a battlefield for many years. So when I decided to start running, I wasn’t really sure why I wanted to do it. My initial motivation was not to get healthier ans start a better lifestyle. But when I first started running, I found freedom. I found dedication and determination. I found that I had a stronger power inside of me than I ever knew. Running opened up a new world to me. I was still insecure and self-conscious of my body and I would run or go to the gym early in the morning or late at night so that I no one would see me. I was terrified of the judgement of others…until I was willing to accept who God said I was, I wouldn’t be able to step out of that fear.

The more I ran, the more I saw who I really was. No, I wasn’t super thin. No, I wasn’t ultra fit. But I was, and I am, beautiful. I’m beautiful because I am loved by God. I’m beautiful because I love others. I’m beautiful because I am determined. I’m beautiful because I am kind. I’m beautiful because I refuse to give up. I’m beautiful because I am me.

Song of Solomon 4:7 – You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! You are already beautiful. If you can’t see your beauty now, you won’t see it after losing 10, 20, 60, or 100 pounds. Your beauty comes from your heart. Yes, you may want to lose weight to be healthier or feel better about yourself or whatever your reasons may be….but just know, that losing weight or getting fit will not make you beautiful. You are already beautiful.

I got this letter in an e-mail yesterday. I do not know who the original author is, but this is so beautifully written that I had to share it. This is for the “fat girl” in me who was afraid of everyone else in the fitness world. This is for the new runner. This is for the new athlete. This is for the “fat girl” who just wants to better her life. This is for anyone who thinks that they are being judged by those who are more “in shape” than they are.

You are my inspiration. Even now, when I get “stuck” and can’t find motivation some days, I look at you and you inspire me to keep going.

The letter from my e-mail:
“Hey, Fat Girl.
Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.
You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home. You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.
You are awesome.
If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others.
You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.
You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.
You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.
I bow to you.”

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