Hi guys! I thought it would be a good idea to write an extended About me-post, because there is definitely more to tell about myself than I did on the About page. So here is the extended version, which turned out to be a bit longer than I planned. I divided it into parts so you can skip things if you like. It’s very personal, I hardly ever share any of it, but I think this blog needs a place where you can find the story behind all of this. (Note: might contain triggers.)
0-11 – Growing up with my weird brains
I grew up in a family with 3 kids. I am the youngest one, my brother is 7 years older and my sister is 10 years older. My sister was always like a mother to me, but she left the house when she was 16. I don’t remember much of it, but I must have been devastated. However, that’s life. I went to her for sleepovers and after a few years, she moved nearby.
I always felt different from everyone else. About everything gave me anxiety, especially if it involved people. I was very afraid of anger towards me, I cried easily and I was (am) overempathic. I never understood how other children were not like me. If a kid crushed a bug on the playground, I would cry because it literally hurt me. If someone else was sad, I was sad. Never ever would I say something bad to another kid, or raise my voice. But other kids did, of course. I remember being kicked and beaten on the playground from the age of 4. It happened a lot but I was never capable of stopping it. I think I had a few friends though. But it made me isolated, shy, and afraid of doing something wrong that would make it worse. When I was at a reunion about ten years ago, I found a report from my kindergarten teacher which was written for the teacher of the next grade. It said I was ‘rebellious’, because I never wanted to play outside, and I always wanted to play alone.
My parents were also very much not like me. If I look back, I can see where things went wrong; we just didn’t speak each others’ language. They didn’t understand my anxiety and overwhelming emotions, and they didn’t pick up my detailed non-verbal language. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t ‘protect’ me if I was scared, and I always thought they were mad at me. Which is probably not true, I think they just disapproved my behavior, but that is what happens when you don’t understand each other. They were both raised in rough circumstances in a completely different era, and they are also wired very different from me. It was just bad luck. I learned to adapt by keeping everything inside. I had a great imagination and learned to comfort myself ‘in my mind’. But I always thought I was an annoying burden.
When I was 9 years old, I met my best friend to be. She was only 6 years old, but I was socially behind and she was somewhat up front. I was never aware of the age gap. She lived in the same tiny village as me, almost next to my grandparents and that’s how we met. I think she kind of saved me from growing up completely lonely and socially incapable.
11-18 – High school
As I went older, the bullying didn’t stop. I switched schools at the age of 11 and at the age of 15 hoping things would change, but of course that didn’t help. I was still shy and afraid of saying a single word in class and that is reason enough to be picked on. If I would answer a question in class, people would generally laugh at me, whether the answer was wrong or right. There was one day when a classmate stood up for me. She got very mad and yelled to the entire class about how it disgusted her. I can still cry my eyes out about this, because until this day I don’t understand why she did that for me. Her name was Melanie.
I graduated high school when I was 18. I had to double one year because it was a total failure. Apart from a new national education system in the Netherlands that totally failed, I wasn’t able to combine studying with surviving school. You would think this was somewhat good because I would get rid of all of my former classmates, but I think 80-90% of the students failed that year because of this new system. It was bad. Somewhere around my graduation year I started to cut myself because it was the only way to handle my emotions.
18-23 – Bachelor of education
After graduation I wanted to become a teacher, so I did a bachelor of education. At my new school, everything was different. All my classmates were… normal! Everyone was nice and treated me as equal. I found out that I was actually quite a normal person as long as they didn’t treat me like shit. I made friends and it was amazing. At least, my class was. Apprenticeships were not. I had to prove myself as a teacher and I experienced extreme anxiety everytime I was standing in front of a group of kids. This anxiety shifted from handling kids to handling their parents who could be total assholes. However, I made it without delay. But I knew I wasn’t ready to be a teacher.
24-26 – Uni and marriage
I liked education though, and I still felt like a failure because I hadn’t accomplished more. So, I went to uni to study Educational Sciences, mostly to prove myself. I had developed severe public speaking anxiety so I had no clue how I was going to fix this, but I just started. It were 2 hard years in which I had a lot of therapy, but I made it. I once gave a presentation while I was crying. However, on this particular day I learned that people are generally normal and nice. I felt awful about my not so flawless presentation, but no one judged me, they only told me I did a good job.
In the meantime, I engaged my husband-to-be. We had been together for 5 years. It wasn’t the best relationship because we both had our problems, but I couldn’t imagine being without him, so for me this was the only option. I graduated shortly after our marriage, but I had no clue what I wanted to do now and I was scared as hell. Luckily, I could work at my dad’s company. I decided to start here so I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Another not so helpful thing was the fact that I got Hypothyroidism (when your thyroid gets lazy). I gained 10 K before my wedding, got rid of most of it with diets and exercise, and gained 10 K again after my wedding. I was now on the edge of being overweight.
So this was it. I was married and had a job. I was a grown up. With major issues and a thousand demons. I was fat as fuck in my eyes and I hated myself. My BF was living far away now and staying in contact was hard, so I had no friends. I had been more or less depressed my entire life, but the year after my marriage was the worst of all. I was passively suicidal and I hoped I would die every single day.
26-28 – Hello demons
Until… I decided to join a ballet class one day. I have no clue why I did that, because I still had this social anxiety and I hated my body. But I did and it changed my life in many ways. I had done a few years of ballet before, but this was totally different. I made friends I couldn’t even hope for and it became the only place where I felt safe. It were only 2 classes a week, but I lived from class to class. I knew this was weird and not ok but I didn’t care. I started to lose weight again, and especially in the beginning, improved fast. Not because I was that good, but because it was that bad when I started. But it gave me purpose and it was a positive experience.
So I had new friends. And we talked, a lot. About personal things and about life. And the more we talked, the more I had trouble keeping my demons under the ground. Suddenly they were in my face, more every day. Until the point where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I had lost the 10 K again, but still hated myself and my body. I had developed some extreme dieting habits over time, and at some point it went wrong. It probably started with an all-inclusive vacation, where I suddenly was afraid of so much food. Every day I was eating among all those greedy people who would tuck away plates full of food. I wasn’t allowed to get greedy, I wasn’t even allowed to exist. So every time I felt like I had eaten more than I deserved, I purged.
When we came back, I was on the edge of losing it. One single shitty event did the trick and threw me overboard. The only way I could handle my life was by eating close to nothing. It felt like I could stop time and finally keep up with life. At the beginning it hurt like hell, it felt like my organs had become cactuses. But the feeling of allowing myself only what I deserved was so calming. My body got more used to it, but I knew I couldn’t do this forever. I couldn’t really function anymore, especially at work. I knew I had to eat more, so I made a plan to slowly build up calories again. Slowly, because my mind wouldn’t let me do it faster.
A ballet recital was planned about half a year later, and I would be part of it, so I had to eat better. But exactly 6 months before the show, my teacher took me off of it because she thought it would be irresponsible. I get it, because she didn’t want to be responsible for me going down, but I was a 100% sure the recital would get me back on my feet. I’ll never know if this would have been true though. I couldn’t have been more devastated. It was just a part in a recital but it was my life. I felt like someone close to me had died. After this, I didn’t have any reason to get better. I couldn’t care less. Or so I thought.
A month later I got kicked out of my church band where I was a singer, because they said my stage presentation wasn’t good enough. I thought it wasn’t that bad, but one day I was in, and the next day I was out. It turned out I could care less. Soon, I had lost another 10 K. I could not really function anymore, but my mind was so quiet. It was so peaceful in there. In the meantime, I had signed up for eating disorder therapy, because it was clear I was not going to fix this on my own. I was going to do this anyway, but now it was a necessity. And I was ready for it, because I was kind of afraid I was going to die.
28-31 – Trying to get rid of my ED
Eventually, the girl who was going to play my part had to cancel because of her study. So 2 months before the recital, I had my part back! It was the best and it really helped me to eat better. I was not very pleased about my recital performance, but it was awesome anyway. After this, there wouldn’t be a ballet class for about 7 weeks because of summer vacation, which sucked.
The new therapy group started 2 weeks prior to the recital. It was 2 days a week and it would end after 6 months. I thought I would walk out totally recovered 6 months later. Unfortunately, I gained weight extremely fast from here. I ate 1400 calories a day but I gained 1 K a week for weeks in a row. In my 2-week vacation from therapy I lost 3 K, but again gained 1 K a week after that. It was extremely traumatizing and I just wanted to die. No one knew why I gained so fast, but it also seemed like no one really cared. I couldn’t handle it at all but didn’t get decent support at the clinic. It escalated after 4 months, when some people in my group got really mad because I only ever talked about gaining weight. I felt like a terrible person but also couldn’t deal with anything at all anymore.
So I left the group and switched to ambulatory. I had my 10 K back and still ate like shit. Now I was ‘fat’ again, extremely unhappy, and I still hadn’t fixed the underlying problems. This went on for months, until my therapist said she wanted to sign me up for a special treatment they offered: a one-month commital in another country (which I don’t want to specify for privacy reasons towards the clinic) in a group of 10 people. It scared the shit out of me, but I said yes.
From here, I went downhill again. I was so afraid to be the heaviest one in the group, and I was afraid of gaining a lot of weight in that month. And so I went back to starving. But this time, I went further than ever before. I did all kinds of ridiculous things to lose weight and I was extremely unhealthy. The closer it got, the more extreme I went. I literally felt like I was dying, but I didn’t really care because the only thing I could think of was handing over control for a month. I was worried about people finding certain foods in my pantry after I would be dead though, but that was about it. Towards the end I skipped multiple nights of sleep with light energy drinks, listening to my 35 bpm heartbeat.
Of course all of this wasn’t approved by the clinic, but I had quit my very nasty anti-depressants a few months earlier and I blamed them for the weight gain back then, so I convinced the clinic that their absence now made me lose weight.
The day of departure arrived, and I didn’t die. This month was awful and amazing. I met 9 awesome girls and we bonded for life. But the moment I walked through the door the first time I thought I’d made a terrible mistake. I wanted to leave again immediately, but of course that wasn’t an option. We had to eat A LOT, but it was very healthy and prepared by 2 great cooks. It must have tasted amazing. I don’t remember it that well because I never had that much brain waves left to form an opinion about the taste.
The amount of food was my worst nightmare. I think I ate ten times as much as I did before, every day. I would freak out if someone else had less on her plate than me, or if I knew I was stuffing away a 400 kcal snack. Rule number one was “You eat everything”. “You don’t purge” was rule number two. I cried every.single.day. But it was the only way.
This was 3 years ago in September. When I came back, I was able to eat a normal amount of food. I had only gained 1 K, but this wouldn’t last long and I knew it. Between then and now, it slowly got a little better every month. At first, I couldn’t stand my body and I was severely depressed. For months I totally ignored the fact that I had a body.
Now with the weight back on, I can look at it without freaking out and my eating pattern is alright. I’ve had a lot of therapy sessions with my family and husband, which really turned things around. All of these relationships are 200% better now. At the end of 2015 my hub and I took a leap of faith and bought a house. This would either end in a disaster or into something great. It turned out to be the last. I quit therapy at the end of 2016. My husband is now my best friend ever and he makes me extremely happy. We have been close to a divorce but we are now doing better than ever before.
32-33 – Change
Last year, I was still working at my dad’s company after 7 years. But I wasn’t happy with my job. It had been the place where my ed started and after 7 years I had seen everything the job had to offer. I found out that I really liked programming, and I found a traineeship that seemed really nice to me. It was the first time I chose to break out of something that I didn’t like, but was safe. It felt like I chose my own destiny for the first time.
I started this traineeship in March and I met a lot of awesome people, but it was not what they pictured it to be. They were manipulative, couldn’t find me a decent job and did some things that were not ok. I felt like a product instead of a human being. So a few weeks ago, I decided to quit, because it really stirred up depression and anxiety and it was not conducive for my well being. Suppression doesn’t do me well. It would result in a study dept but my mental health is more important to me now.
So now I’m here. And I want to make this work SO bad. At this very moment, I feel extremely well. I am happy, light headed, I want to do stuff, make the world a better place, mean something. I never felt this way before.
Was ballet the reason for my ed? No. It would have happened anyway, or it would not have happened and then I would still be that extremely depressed person. Ballet has been very difficult in the past years. I have had stomach problems ever since I became anorexic in 2013 which can make me extremely bloated. Due to that and the weight gain, I have hated my mirror image to death. At this point I still don’t like mirrors, but it’s ok.
I think I’ve tried to stop ballet 4 times in the past years, but I just can’t do it. It still feels like that safe place it was 6 years ago. For some weird reason I have some nasty injuries all the time, which is annoying as hell, but I still dance at least 3 times a week and I want to do it for the rest of my life. Also, I moved to a house that is literally 100 m away from the ballet studio. What a weird coincidence. Or not?