• Jennifer Jade Merrihue

SLOW DOWN + SAVE YOURSELF (ON FOOD, MENTAL ISSUES, EATING DISORDERS, CHILD SUFFERING)

I have been close with many friends who struggle with food.


I wanted to introduce them to food as a way to pleasure, to connect, to love on people, and ourselves.



I never didn’t buy the extra cookie for us, I never didn’t insist on the large extra cheese pizza.


Because from too young an age I battled a monster that almost killed me. That believed less was better.


The exhausting mental battle. The horrific and incessant judgment, shame, calculations, comparisons, criticisms.


I was too young then to know what I was taking on alone. But I am so thankful to that little girl that did it.


*


An eating disorder is a desperate attempt for control in a world that feels so out of our control. I have a million reasons why I could have chosen this, but at the time, it was so easy to have an eating disorder. Every girl around me seemed to have one in some form or another.


There was a culture of it thriving everywhere. Magazines, TV shows, bubbling between us girls.


Less was more.


Not eating was sexy. Suffering was sexy.


I went to international schools. By the time I got to London (11 years old), I had lived in 7 other countries.


I don’t know what other schools were like, but my issues were not out of the ordinary at mine and were certainly not the scariest.


By 12 I had a friend struggling with schizophrenia, others with suicide, I had been bullied, girls around me were starving, cutting themselves, molested.


There is so much pain in a high school.


At least there was in mine. And I didn’t know who to talk to without scaring them.


That summer I got books on bulimia and anorexia, but also on schizophrenia, bipolar, PTSD, and suicide. These were the issues I was juggling at 11/12. Although only one of those issues was my issue. The rest belonged to 5 other main players in my life. I cannot believe I survived. I cannot believe that by the age of 14 all that was left of that horrific disorder was a very shy girl who ate all the time, enjoyed the hell out of it, and exercised to balance and burn off the anxiety that led to the issue in the first place.


It’s been almost 2 decades since. And as you may know, if you follow my content, I have been deep diving into trauma work.


At first, it was heavy, in my body, in my life. I had to leave a lot of things, stay home, give myself abundant time. I have not been rushing this.


The more time I gave it the more sense I made to myself.


I did not have permission to feel then what I feel now. I didn’t have an adult who knew what I was going through to tell me that I could handle it.


That it made total sense to have been feeling exhausted, terrified, clueless, and sad.


That it would be weird if I didn’t feel those things as I juggled these huge scary things in my self, in the pain of others, in the life of highschool.


That the most logical thing on the planet would be for me to sleep for as many days as I needed to, cry for as long as I needed to, eat, and sleep again. Until I felt healthy again. And complete.


When I was 11 I just kept on pushing, surviving, going. I read up, got a strategy, made a commitment that I wanted to live and then didn’t give up on myself (f)or others. I didn’t stop to give myself nice hugs, yummy snacks, baths, or kindness. Those things seemed dangerous. Like if I did those I’d also be allowing myself to feel the depth of my pain, or my fear, or my loneliness, + I might never recover or come out of it.


But your mind and body will never give you more than you can handle. It might feel like it. But what’s missing in response to that doubt is trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in your body. Trusting in the process it takes to feel through the depths of pain in order to completely release it.


I did not have trust when I was that small. Even though I outperformed an eating disorder when I had only been alive for ELEVEN YEARS.


Instead, I learned many wrongful lessons from it:


- Survival depended on never slowing down.


- I’d have to do it alone.


- To get things done they have to feel like life or death


- I can be sad but not too sad or for too long


…You can bet your butt that’s the strategy I used for years…before I got fed up with the type of life that gives you.


So now as a grown-ass woman, who’s a grown-ass coach. I have had the luxury and horror to slow the fuck down and give that 11-year-old girl everything she couldn’t have back then.

Understanding. Community. Connection. TIME.


*


VERY intentionally this past year, I decided I would slow down for as long as it took, and listen to my nervous system. What affects it for the better or for the worse, use it as my guide for whether I do things, 100% of the time.


When I am sad now, even if I have no idea why, I make some damn space.


I don’t make it mean that it’s the sadness from back then.


But I respect the shit out the fact that it very well might be. So I make some room, give it a bath, some healthy snacks. And most importantly time and recognition.


I thank my body for all its been through and I commit that I’ll be here, listening for whatever else it might go through.


As any adult should learn to do for a child-look them straight in the eye, in the depth of all their pain, and assure them that you’re there with them and there’s nothing you can’t handle together. I am now learning to do for my own inner child.


An eating disorder is no joke. If you’re looking for support around one don’t hesitate to reach out.


Though I overcame one by age 14, it did not “cure” the initial sources that led to having one.

I was dealing with an immense amount of fear and anxiety that I had to find other outlets for like exercise, writing, and art.


I also had a long way to go in understanding food.


Even though I was eating ALL the time in my 20’s and was REALLY healthy, calorically it was nowhere near enough food I was eating with how active I was.


I went back to school and studied holistic health and nutrition to help myself understand bodies more. I wanted to learn alternatives to chemical medicine, to use food as actual medicine and reverse heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.


What I learned was our body is complex. Every single body is different. There is no single diet or lifestyle that works for everyone. Nothing is an accident. It’s a communication, emotional or physical, from your body.


I’ve been bulimic, anorexic, carb-centric, vegan, raw vegan, paleo, keto, the whole shebang...


I can tell you that each philosophy is CONVINCED that they are the right one and that everyone you love is poisoning themselves with the way the eat and live. In my experience, besides the eating disorders mentioned, they all have their merits and their drawbacks and the diet that works is one that works with your body chemistry, lifestyle, and general mind state.


I like living in abundance. But the thing that was missing through this ENTIRE journey. Was you guys.


Was connection, honesty, the strength to look around and trust that I could still be loved even though I had had this horrible thing in my life that I judged and almost died from.

So enter the choice to share this with you the world.


I hope none of you are having to juggle things of this magnitude alone, for your self or for those that you love. I hope you reach out to me, to each other, to anyone else. Because going through it alone just teaches you that you have to do that to survive. And that’s just not true.


Peace and Love to you all and thank you for reading this…


If you or anyone you know is struggling with some heavy issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I have 1-1 sessions available through Skype/Zoom so you can get support from the comfort of your own home. We’re in this together. Feeling connection and unconditional understanding from someone when going through something hard is a powerful step towards resolving it.

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