Hi all – today I felt that the time was right to share my story.
More than you may realize that I’ve been through to get where I am today.
My blog has changed my life, for the better. I never thought that just sharing my recipes would lead me into my future business. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I get when I receive an e-mail from a follower who says I’ve helped change their life just from sharing my stories. Gosh, it all started with a post about a recipe & now I’m posting about all sorts of things! Throughout the last year & a half of having this blog, I’ve opened up about a lot of meaningful topics that I’ve personally dealt with.
Whether it be my pro’s & con’s of competing, my food allergies, my recipes, myths, or sharing simple stories that happen day to day, it’s safe to say that my blog is my outlet. I love being able to share my stories without feeling like I’m “working”. In all honesty, I’m not a big writer. Yes, English was always my favorite class in high school, but that didn’t always correlate to my blog. I’m more of a visual reader. I like pictures, big fonts, big words, & everything to be centered on a page. There are times where I have a lot to say, but don’t always end up writing a long blog post thinking people may not sit and actually read it. Then I think to myself…gosh, I am lucky enough to have this website, this blog, that I am so passionate about as an open forum to share my thoughts & feelings with hopes that I can help someone who may not have this to feel that they are not alone.
Growing up… I was a normal care-free child.
(And I promise that Ozzy Osbourne & Elton John were not my parents)
Playing outside, scraped knees, wearing velcrow shoes were all the norm with me.
I never thought that before entering Junior High, that I would be dealing with certain anxieties that would change my life.
During these anxieties I always felt “alone”.
I felt that I was the ONLY one dealing with a certain issue.
The day I realized I wasn’t alone, was the day I was able to overcome this huge obstacle in my life.
So, let’s start talking.
One day after 4th grade, I got off the bus and headed to my comforting little house we grew up in. I never thought that meeting my mom off of the bus would lead to a conversation of a big decision my parents had made. We were moving.
It wasn’t like we decided to get up and move to a different state…we literally moved 4 minutes down the road in the same township, but it sure felt like we were leaving the country.
There were no negative reasons to our move –my parents simply just wanted to move into a bigger home since my brother & I were growing up. My 4th grade mind could not understand this. I only thought about the negative aspect and how this would change my life.
The word CHANGE is something that I found myself battling for the next years of my life.
I remember sitting down at my dads work desk & scribbling all over the table top calendar “I DO NOT WANT TO MOVE!” “WHY ARE WE MOVING!” “THIS STINKS!” Thinking that these words would be seen & change my parents minds.
Well, the chicken scratch didn’t change anything and we ended up moving down the road. You may be thinking – why such a big deal? Well, our school district had 7 Elementary schools at the time. Moving 4 minutes down the road meant switching elementary schools. I had been at the same school growing up with the same friends & day to day routine that I became so comfortable in. I always pictured myself “graduating” from 6th grade and entering into the Junior High with the same group of best friends that I had known since kindergarten. How dare we move and ruin this whole concept I had in my head?
I knew one student at my new Elementary school. He was a childhood friend that grew up across the street from my Grandparents and may or may not have thrown sand in my eyes when we played together as babies. Yes, I still mess with him about that to this day.
In 5th grade, boys had cooties and girls did too – therefore, he was not going to embrace me on the first day with a huge friendly hug. He ignored me like the plague – but who can blame him? In 5th grade, a boy hanging out with a girl wasn’t the “cool” thing to do.
I was on my own…trying to do this whole “be my friend” thing that I had already done years before that at my old school.
I couldn’t help but think of my friends who were starting their 5th grade year all buddy-buddy with the same friends we all grew up knowing- while I sat alone at lunch.
Now, that didn’t last too long – I did become friends with a group of girls where we referred to ourselves as “the big dogs”. That’s a whole other story in itself, ha. But, they were friends nonetheless. Now you’re probably thinking where is the “big” issue here? Well let’s move onto the day that did me in..
I’ll never forget this day; both of the 5th grade classes combined together to watch a video in our class room. We were all sitting in our chairs in a semi-circle around the large TV stand. Out of nowhere, you heard a bunch of chairs slide across the floor & a noise that we all don’t like to hear…a student was throwing up.
The throw up in the class sent me spiraling out of control with emotions. Yes, throw up.
The students all screamed and ran away as if they were being chased in a tag game. This feeling was something I had never felt before & little did I know, would change my life forever.
Now you may be wondering why throw up was a big deal. Well, I later came to find that it wasn't really the throw up that was the issue (ill get to that) but for a long time I had a deep fear of other people throwing up, me throwing up, or being around anyone that "didn't feel good" because I legit was afraid of getting sick because in my head- that always lead to possibly throwing up.
This episode made me become a germ-o-phobic. I went out of my way to avoid any germs. I would use my sleeve to open a door handle, use my foot to put down a toilet seat, washed my hands every time they felt dirty (which was about every 30 minutes), and don't even get me started on the nurses office. I had this fear of the nurses office because in my head I referred to it as a germ infested room where there may be the sight, smell, or noise of, yet again, throw up.
It's safe to say that anything may involve germs I avoided like the plague. Pun intended.
This fear started to turn into an obsession. I started to avoid social situations and wouldn't step foot into the café-gym-atorium. (Cafeteria, gym, auditorium - We had a 3 in one at our elementary school).
One day during lunch, one of the boys did something gross at the lunch table that resulted in his friend losing his lunch all over the floor- and I don't mean that he got bumped holding his tray. The feeling of not having "control" over these situations made me fear being around them. This lead to little 5th grade Kasey eating lunch every day in the main office with the secretary. (Who I recently worked with at the high school where I subbed - such a small world and she is always so excited when I told her what I've been up to.)
If I wasn't in the office eating lunch, I was in the school counselor’s office coloring to keep my mind off of my anxiety.
Unfortunately, these anxieties of losing control started to manifest into a deep anxiety of food.
Now, in 5th grade I did not understand or ever hear of the word "anorexia". We now look back & realize that I just was never really “diagnosed”. I started to keep this this "unapproved" list of foods in my head that couldn't be combined. Which means, I had this idea in my head where I couldn’t eat foods like fruit & meat in the same meal “because they couldn’t go together”. I had a fear that combining unlike food items would upset my stomach and make me sick – which would lead to throwing up.
Therefore, I wasn't really slowly eliminating foods from my "approved" list in my head to lose weight, but to prevent sickness. Which really meant, I hardly ate anything.
I started to live by the clock. I was obsessed with eating meals 4 hours apart. I once heard, probably on the news, that it took 4 hours for food to digest. Therefore in 5th grade Kasey’s mind, I wouldn't even think about eating another meal if it hadn't been AT LEAST 4 hours.
I also had this weird thing about desserts. If I ate dinner...I allowed 1 hour until I ate dessert. You can even ask my family- they will still joke (in a nice way) about my "hour rule".
Without even realizing it, I was spiraling down this path of rules & regulations I was putting on myself without realizing my rapid weight loss during this time.
I went from a chubby cheeked round headed 4th grader weighing in at almost 96 lbs….
To an 80lb 6th grade string bean who hit her growth spurt while also suffering from an anxiety & eating disorder all within 1 year.
Now, the growth spurt and weight loss was probably inevitable since I did grow multiple inches...
but, the 16lb weight loss is something that isn't really the norm between 5th & 6th grade.
I recently came across this picture the other day while cleaning out my room & that’s one of the reasons why I felt it was time to share this part of my story. I saw my arms in this picture & felt sick to my stomach. I never noticed the weight loss –I was too concerned about anything and everything that had to do with time & food to even look in the mirror.
The fears began to affect every area of my life, including my family. If I wasn't freaking out over the times we ate our meals, I was usually gripping onto the bathroom towel while my mom attempted to help me get ready for school. Going to school was the worst feeling in the world.
Knowing that I would go to bed and have to wake up and go to school literally made me feel sick to my stomach. The constant stress wreaked havoc on my colon & intestines. I spent many hours in fetal position dealing with issues of IBS from all of the stress I was under. (Ill get into that in my next post - all about poop & plumbers).
Looking back, I give my parents so much credit. They did everything they could to try and get me to eat, not worry about food combining, & to try and be a "normal" happy stress-free child.
I’ll never forget the moment when I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom in tears & trembling at the thought of having to go to school. My mom came in and I told her "I can't go mommy, I don't feel good." She proceeded to go through the same speech she gave every day -
“Kase, we have to try and go to school … everything will be fine.”
This was probably the 20th day I would've missed school, so she got frustrated & tried to pick me up to get me out of the bathroom as I held onto that orange striped bath towel for dear life. She put me down (no harm to me at all) and threw her hands up in the air and said "I honestly don't know what to do with you anymore Kasey."
Now, this is in NO WAY bad parenting. My mom and dad dealt with this for a whole year on their own and literally had no idea what else to do with me to end this anxiety battle.
The feeling I got when my mom said those words was something I can't explain. What do you do when your parent doesn’t know what to do with you anymore? Something was wrong. At that point, my 5th grade mind accepted that I had a problem. That day, we both went into the school & spoke with the school counselor who lead us to a therapist.
The thought of going to a therapist was something I avoided for a while until we actually walked into the office. I pictured the whole lying on the s shaped chair while someone sat next to you and said “Tell me how you really feel.”
I did not want to go to therapy but now realize, I am who I am today because of taking that positive step forward. It was not easy at first…and never really was “easy” to talk about my issues as a 5th grader. A lot of things I didn’t really understand. Why do I fear throw up? Well, I came to find that “throw up” wasn’t really the issue after all. It was the feeling that I got when that situation happened. The feeling of “no control” over the situation was the deep down issue I was dealing with here; not the throw up.
This concept of “fear of losing control” was something that I worked on for years & still do struggle with to this day. I like control. I liked controlling that fact that I PICKED when I ate. Every 4 hours, like clock work, I would “allow myself” to eat another meal. And guess what, I got an adrenaline rush whenever that clock would hit 4 hours- because I knew I was “allowed” to eat and it gave me a great feeling.
In 5th grade, I was forced (in a good way) to grow up quickly & understand concepts that most 5th graders were not even aware of.
I sacrificed some of my childhood to really heal myself & my mind. If it wasn’t for therapy, I don’t know what would’ve happened.
I always felt so “alone” and that no other 5th grader ever felt like I did. But, I remember one day when another student asked my why I got so upset when someone felt sick and I explained to her how I felt- she too felt the same way! She started crying, telling me how she got so scared if someone got sick. This moment made me realize, I am not alone. And together, we helped her work on this.
I also wanted to say that through all of this, none of the other students really knew what I was going through. Why I had to sit at the last table in the corner in the lunch room. They didn’t understand how much it actually took just to get me to even EAT in the cafeteria with all of them. There was one girl though, Michelle, who helped me more than she’ll ever know. She didn’t understand 100% what I Was going through, but she was the one person who never judged me for the decisions I made. She used to eat lunch with me & stood by my side regardless of where I ate lunch that day.
One day, we were on a bus trip to a field trip (which, was another huge anxiety for me – being a bus where I had no control over what was to happen) and one of the students threw up on the ride home in the seat behind me. This was about 1 year into my struggle so I was not yet able to handle these situations 100% yet. I’ll never forget Michelle moving to the seat in front of me and saying to me “Kasey, just look at me up here..It’s all okay! Just keep talking to me, ok?” Michelle will never realize how thankful I was then and now to have someone like her in my life at this time. So Michelle, if you’re by chance reading this…thank you.
To sum up those 2 years (from 5th – 6th grade) – it was not easy.
I continued to go to therapy for years and only recently have stopped but I will absolutely go back if I ever feel that I need to!
It is not a weakness to get help.
There were many hours spent crying, praying, & dealing with this anxiety disorder through therapy & love that I had to face at a young age..
But I will never forget my mom saying to me,
“You’re not alone, Kasey. This is a speed bump along your road of life, not a brick wall.”
And guess what, as a family, we pulled together and helped me overcome this speed bump.
So much for not being a big story teller blogger, huh?
Well I thought, starting my own business now & moving forward in my life was a great time to share my true deep down issues that I dealt with.
And guess what, I still deal with these things!
It’s something that never goes away – but you learn how to handle & manage it.
Change happens – and instead of freaking out over it – I embrace it and have faith that God has lead me down this path for a reason.
I am able to relate to others from dealing with what I have dealt with.
And as far as where I am now…I am so proud of myself.
I’ve come a long long way from that anxiety driven 5th grader.
I am now a proud 23 year old young lady who wants to help others realize they are NOT ALONE in their journeys.
Yes, I grew up quickly at a young age, but wouldn’t change anything about that.
I highly suggest therapy for anyone and everyone.
It is not what you picture – it is a way of dealing with deep down emotions that you may be afraid of facing.
I never liked talking about the issues –but once I did –It was like the weight of the world was off my shoulders.
Accepting and actually saying the anxiety out loud will help you get through it.
You’ve got to accept it to move forward!
Honestly, the fact that I graduated as a health and physical education teacher
and worked in schools is something that in 5th grade, would be the biggest fear of my life.
I am proud of the that I no longer live by the clock with food.
I am proud of the fact that I eat POWERBOWLS & POWERMEALS DAILY
where I combine foods that I would’ve cried just looking at, is an accomplishment in itself.
I am proud of the fact that I am strong.
I am proud of the fact that I no longer have concaved arms & I fuel my body properly.
I am proud of the fact that I can eat food less than an hour apart, or less than 4 hours apart, for that matter, is a huge step in my life.
These things may seem like small steps to others- but these are HUGE steps to me.
My family can’t get over how far I’ve come and neither can I. I am so proud of myself and my family and friends for their constant support.
I am not perfect – no one is.
My story isn’t any more sad or hard than yours maybe –
but guess what, I don’t judge my story compared to yours.
WE ALL DEAL WITH ISSUES.
WE ALL DEAL WITH FEARS.
WE ALL DEAL WITH ANXIETY.
But, the beautiful part about all of this is that we ARE NOT ALONE.
Some people may come off “perfect” like they have it all together –
but you never know what they have dealt with to get to that point in their life.
The fact that I can take what I’ve been through and use it to help myself & others with their journeys is something that I truly think I was put on this earth to do.
Thank you for reading this & supporting me in my journey to help others & inspire.
There will be a part 2 to this story…
where I go deeper into the issues I faced with my colon & digestion and where I am currently with that.
I thank you if you took the time to get to know me a little bit better – your constant support means the world to me.
The motto “BE TRUE TO YOU” is something I so strongly believe in –
I am me, not you. You are you, not me.
BE YOURSELF & be proud of where you come from and where you are going!
Don’t judge others stories – accept their differences.
We need less judgment & more acceptance.