The Last Chapter

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This is a highly personal topic that I wasn’t too sure I wanted to share. But I know that there are so many women out there struggling with the consequences of past eating disorders so I have decided to bare it all and share my journey. If you, or someone you know, has, is or did battle with disordered eating, I hope my experience (in some way or another) helps encourage the women in our community to seek help, embrace the healing process and move on with their beautiful lives.

I remember, when I was about 11 years old, I’d look in the mirror and know, with 100% confidence, that I was beautiful. I’d play with my hair, wiggle my nose, and feel proud of the girl I was becoming.

But somewhere along the way? I lost myself. I started caring more about what others thought of me, than what I knew to be true. I let the pressure of popularity and being noticed by boys get in the way of who I truly was — deep down inside. I became insecure about my place in the world and, even worse, began questioning if I even deserved to be here at all.

One obsession led to another and, at age 13, I stared in that mirror and hated every last bit that looked back at me.

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This was the beginning of a very torturous 10 years that nearly cost me my life.

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Drugs, alcohol and starving myself became the center of my world.

I hit rock bottom at 21 years old – massively underweight, unhappy and completely lost. I starred in the mirror and nothing stared back at me. I was empty. This was my breaking point, the moment that I realized that the life I had created for myself just wasn’t serving me.

Over the next 6 years, I worked so incredibly, feverishly hard to redefine and discover the woman I knew I was meant to be. I enrolled in the holistic nutrition program at CSNN to help me understand my body and the importance of proper nutrition, I attended vegetarian cooking classes that helped me embrace the beauty of food, I worked one on one with a counselor, joined a support group and started hypnotherapy. Every step brought me closer to myself.

One thing that I haven’t been able to heal, is my missing periods (also known as amenorrhea). When I had hit my lowest weight, and right around the time I went off birth control, my periods stopped and just… never came back.

No amount of natural supplements or dietary changes helped my situation. I continued to seek out new doctors, all who suggested that I just go back on birth control as a way to “kick-start” my rhythm. I tried it once and it “worked” for 6 months. But as soon as I went off birth control, the periods stopped and I was catapulted to square one all over again. Having your period stop is just one of many side effects of birth control.  Recently, women have actually had to file for a yaz law suit over complications such as blood clots, and pulmonary embolism.

Thankfully, after a 5 year search, I found a doctor that was willing to refer me to a endocrinologist. Four weeks later, I met with the endocrinologist who, after about 30 minutes of asking me an insane amount of questions and reviewing all of my tests, determined that I was in a low estrogen state that was 100% linked to my eating disordered past.

Basically, as I understand it, there’s a “thing” in your brain that triggers the production of estrogen. That “thing” was damaged when I forced my body past it’s natural weight and, because of the years of torture I put my body through, it is very likely that my body will not produce estrogen on it’s own anymore. This impacts my ability to build healthy bones, to maintain a healthy hormone balance, and to have a natural pregnancy.

The doctors main concern was the health of my bones. Estrogen is the key ingredient for healthy bone formation and, living without it for such a long period of time, has drastically affected my bone density. He was quick to come up with a hormone replacement program that I was comfortable with and explained that this would now be my life — natural hormone patches, injections and pills until I choose to experience menopause.

While it’s not ideal, it’s the best that we can do with what I’ve created. I wish I could say, “if someone would have told me that this would be my reality, maybe I would have stopped what I was doing to myself” but I know that no amount of advice I could have been given in the darkest of my days would have changed the course for me.

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I am so grateful that I experienced what I did, realized that I had a life worth loving and came out on top.

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While my body has taken a beating, I am committed to making the best of what I have to work with and sharing my experiences so that maybe you, or someone you know, doesn’t have to experience the same.

One of my lesson in all of this? If you’ve had amenorrhea for longer than 6 months, seek help, ask questions, don’t settle for something you’re not comfortable with. If a treatment doesn’t feel right for you, find another doctor that’s willing to help you.

Over the next little while, I’ll be investigating ways to pump up my bone density and support natural estrogen production. If you’re up for it, I’d be more than happy to keep you up to date with what I figure out!

To OUR healthy, loving, beautiful lives.

xo

 

Leanne

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  1. Hi Leanne,

    First of all, I want to state that I have just barely started following your blog/website and reading your first book The Keto Beginning, but that it has already started to get me back on track. I myself do not suffer from a lack of periods, although I know my fertility is not as strong as it should be; nor are my periods regular or PMS manageable. What I do take from your open posts is the strive to overcome disordered eating. I myself suffered from multiple disorders from as early on as age 5 or 6 to be quite honest with you and still have to make a conscious effort everyday to try and correct my mind from reverting to old habits. The longest lasting and most prominent of them all has definitely been orthorexia which I had thought for the longest time was a scam to make us all unhealthy so we had to pay more money for more healthcare to rectify problems we created/let happen to ourselves.

    The issues seem to become less and less extreme when it comes to my health, but the brain pattern always remains the same: I am happy to start a new “health” journey; I do really well for a month or so then think to myself that I need to pump up the difficulty of my health lifestyle; I go to a somewhat extreme (this time it was 1200 calories per day and obsessing over macros); I feel like I know more about health than anyone in the world and get so cocky just because my body starts looking a certain way; I turn into a raging *bad name* at home while putting on a “perfect life” face while out in public; I get depressed because I am such a *bad name* and I realize how it affects my loved ones; I come back to reality. The biggest factor in me trying keep myself reeled in has definitely been meditation reading about the practice of non-practice/non-striving; just living consciously! It worked really well for the most part but was obviously not enough. I am so grateful that beyond that I have found your blog and have someone I can relate to and look up to for inspiration in what seems like this never ending journey of wanting to heal myself in the traditional mind and body, but also the spirit. It feels like when we go through years of self-hate, low self-worth, and quite bluntly, self-destruction, we tear away at our essence and lose the abundant love that once filled us. I think this applies to EVERYONE who ever feels like they are not enough – not just the disordered eaters.

    Anyways, I have a tendancy to ramble so sorry for that, I just wanted to say that I am so excited to read your books and feel where you are coming from and aim to be there full time. Living consciously is definitely important for this and I believe that with the tools you have provided that I can begin to heal myself and live the life I want and deserve.

    Thanks so much for all you do :)

    • Hi Lindsay,

      Reading your story made me realize that even though I don’t have an eating disorder, per say, I can get overly enthusiastic about my “healthy” eating to the point of near obsession. I unconciously put loved ones in uncomfortable situations because I won’t eat whatever is being offered that doesn’t “meet my standards”. Have you figured out a way to balance healthy eating in a non-obsessive way?

      Best wishes,

      Carissa

  2. Hi Leanne,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can relate so much to you.

    I too have not had a period naturally for 5+ years. I was a flight attendant for 9 years. My life was irregular sleeping patterns, excessive exercise, restrictive eating and running on adrenal. With all that I think my adrenals and ovaries have packed up and left!! I have low estrogen, progesterone and DHEA.
    I’m so worried about my bone health but don’t know where to start with supplementing. I was hoping you could help. What have you felt you have results with? My doctor has asked me not to take calcium as it causes calcification in the body. I’ve read good things about Silica?
    I have just started bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
    Have you had any results on your treatment plan?
    Here’s to beating Amenhorrea!!! xx

  3. I’m a teenager and I haven’t gotten my period for 6 months. It’s not like I was just starting it-I had my period for several years before it stopped. It’s true, I have lost weight (almost 30 lbs, not intentionally) and I’ve been exercising more. I’m a competitive dancer and I had to travel long distance to get to school so the weight musth have dropped from all of the exercise. My body feels great now, but people always wondered if I had an eating disorder because of the sudden change in my body. I never missed a meal and always made sure I ate enough of what I was supposed to. I did cut out certain junk foods (deep fried, burgers, etc.) just because I wasn’t a fan of how they made my body feel after I ate them, and they didn’t fuel me the way I needed them to for dance and life. I now feel so much better about the way I eat and feel after.

    The problem is my period. I went to my doctor several months ago and they said not to worry about it, but it’s been half a year now and still nothing! I’m staring to get scared of what could happen, and what this could mean for my body. I don’t want to see my health become at risk. I don’t want to see the things I love to do be the things that harm me.

  4. So many people suffer or have suffered from this!

    I spent last year in the hospital for anorexica…
    No, and I’m not 15 or 18…I’m 47 years old!
    This can affect anyone….at any age.

    Without sharing all the details, I believe (for now anyway) I am getting to a healthier place but feel ED still impacts my life (I’m back down to pre-hospital weight now). I know I’ll be influenced by my ED in the years to come…I guess I’m struggling – not sure how and if I’m really committed to the ‘fight’ right now…

    Reading all your posts (including Leanne’s of course!) is helpful though.
    Good luck to all of you!
    Sherri
    Thanks for sharing and opening this discussion Leanne! You are brave and courageous.

  5. Wow, until I read this post and all the comments, I had no idea amenorrhea was so common!! I lost about 30 pounds last year by going to lots of spin classes and eliminating white flour and sugar from my diet. I am not underweight (BMI of ~22) but I stopped having my period and haven’t been able to get it back. Like you, I was put on the pill, and when I tried to come off it, I stopped having periods agin. So for now, I’m still on it, but I don’t like the idea of being on it for the rest of my life (until menopause). Your post has inspired me to seek out a more natural option. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and helping SO MANY people in the process! :)

  6. I also went through a period of weight loss due to depression, in my early 20’s. I lost 30 lbs. I didn’t realize I was in trouble until I went to the DR. and he told me I was 73 lbs!!! I was never big to begin with always on the low side of the normal weight. I was also on the pill for 6 years. When I went off the pill I started to lose my hair, and I’ve been in the process of trying to get it back for almost a year. Dr’s have recommended drugs (of course) but it just covers the symptoms it doesn’t fix the underlying problem. I am proud of you for realizing it didn’t help and continuing to talk to dr’s until you found one that didn’t just prescribe the problem away.

  7. I went through a very similar issue. Thanks so much for sharing with such honesty…I know how difficult it is. I recently just shared my own story on my blog and was blown away with the amount of support I got. Kudos to you, sister!

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