If you've met me, you know I am a very loud, excited individual with a hunger to learn about new cultures and meet as many new people as I can. What a lot of people don't know about me is that I struggled with an eating disorder for over four years after dealing with some serious medical issues causing me to have abusive relationship with food.
I put on a very good front in terms of building a wall and not letting people in, but now I want to talk about it. I want to help others going through the same thing or any other form of struggle. Whether you are depressed, anxious, fighting an inner battle or an addiction, just know there is a light at the end of every tunnel. The key is to talk about it. That's really the only way you'll start to work through it. If you sit in silence or denial there is no progress.
When I was 19 years old I started to have issues with my stomach. I dealt with stabbing pains and throbbing headaches on the daily. I went to countless doctors who all told me different things. I tried the routes of general medicine, naturopathy, gastroenterology, neurology, holistic healing therapies and just about anything else you could think of. At one point, I was simply eating bell peppers and going for an IV drip of nutrients 2-3 times a week. I tested positive for H pylori & an imbalance in my thyroid. The doctor prescribed me some thyroid medication, but I was still suffering day in and day out.
My parents had finally had enough and made an appointment with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona to get down to the bottom of the issue. At the Mayo Clinic you see a number of various specialists who all evaluate you and run their tests, then all collaborate at the end to find a diagnosis. We found that I had SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, as well as a parasite, and the thyroid medication I was on was the opposite of what I needed. If I would have continued to use the medication it could have killed me. After some occipital nerve block injections in the base of my skull and a few rounds of antibiotics I was feeling better, but what I failed to realize was that I developed a severe eating disorder and my relationship with food was destroying every part of me including my relationships with friends and family, work, school, and my overall health.
At first it was anorexia, with the fear that eating anything would cause me pain, and once the doctors cured my medical issues it became full-blown bulimia. I went from eating a total of 500-600 calories a day to eating full jars of peanut butter or boxes of Nutrigrain bars while everyone else was sleeping. During this time I was still working out like a mad woman, practicing yoga daily to keep me sane and visiting the gym for hours on end. After a year of binging and purging my best friends and family came together for an intervention.
After being confronted by friends and family I chose to live in a rehab facility for three months to treat my eating disorder. I attended counseling and truly worked hard to heal myself, but was never truly cured. The only way I can describe an eating disorder is like tunnel vision, you are in constant a daze of cruise control with no ability to reason through your actions, you just do it.
I graduated from San Diego State University at the top of my class and jumped into a full time position in pharmaceutical sales. I was working up to 60 to 70 hours a week and still acting upon my urges on a weekly basis. I appeared to be a success and have my life together with a good career and joyful personality, but deep down I was fighting the darkest battle against myself and I had no idea how and if I would survive.
The biggest blessing I have encountered thus far in my life is having my territory dissolved due to an acquisition of my company. Read more about this in my entry "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade..." I spontaneously decided to pack a backpack, put everything else I own in a storage unit and travel the world all on my own. It wasn't until I left for England that I finally stopped acting on my urges and some time after that the urges disappeared altogether.
The truth is, traveling the world saved my life. It opened my eyes to how lucky I am to have the life and support system I do back home and to not take advantage of each day we are given. It taught me that I was slowly killing myself for years. It definitely has not been easy overcoming an eating disorder, and without working hard at it everyday I don't think I would've overcome it. I had to take myself out of a familiar environment and start talking about the things that drove me into my urges. I have since been to 30 countries in the last 33 months and each country brought me one step closer to fully healing myself.
It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. Traveling isn’t easy at times… It can be exhausting and heartbreaking, nonetheless humbling and liberating. Falling in love with people and places around the world and then having to leave them behind.
My site www.gingergypsea.com depicts all of the places I have been lucky enough to visit along with personal stories and uncomfortable topics that no one really talks about. I hope my site encourages people to challenge their comfort zones and travel to places they always dreamed of visiting. I hope it reminds everyone that even in the darkest of times they are never alone. Travel will change you for the better and might even save your life.
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