Renee’s story is such an important one, not only for women with a history of eating disorder, but for any mother who might be struggling mentally or physically.
The pressure of needing to care for a young child can feel huge when we have our own personal challenges cropping up. Renee sets a great example of the right way for struggling moms to get help.
Thank you, Renee, for sharing your honest experience and tips.
Check out the rest of the Mom Triumphs series for more inspirational stories of how real moms have overcome serious challenges.
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Tips are based on personal experience and should not be considered medical advice. Full disclaimer.
Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What do you like to do? What is your family like?
I’m Renee aka This Anxious Mum, from Perth in sunny Australia. Our family is just the three of us, myself, my husband, and our gorgeous daughter.
Our daughter is a typical lively toddler at this stage, full of beans and into everything all the time. My husband works at the local university and I work on my blog from home or the park.
Our closest family lives a 5-hour plane trip away so we rely a lot on each other and the friendships we’ve made since moving here 3 years ago. We also rely a LOT on Skype 😀
What is a major challenge that you’ve experienced during your time as a mom?
As a mother, I’ve had to face past demons that I thought I’d overcome. Before I became pregnant I suffered for years with anorexia.
This meant multiple hospital admissions, lost friendships and missed opportunities due to lack of energy, isolation, and depression.
When I became pregnant, I quickly gained way over the *recommended* weight and then some. I found it a particularly triggering time. I wanted the pregnancy so badly and was convinced that I was starving my baby so I just kept eating.
After my daughter was delivered 2 months early via emergency c-section due to pre-eclampsia, I comfort ate for the 5 weeks she was in the NICU.
Soon I found myself overweight for the first time in my entire life.
What were your thoughts when you first encountered this challenge?
What’s challenging as a mother is realising that what I do to myself directly impacts my daughter. If I’m unwell, it affects her. If I relapse, it will affect her. It’s difficult to live with that knowledge and that guilt.
It’s a difficult transition to go from being a single person with an eating disorder to a mother and wife who is living in the in-between of recovered and disordered.
How did you figure out what approach to take in facing your challenge? Did your approach change over time?
I went with an “honesty first” approach and told those closest to me straight away when I noticed myself slipping. I had lost over 20 kilos (44 lbs) in a 6-month period and had done it sensibly and without restricting or placing negative labels onto foods.
It was when I got to a healthy weight that I noticed my eating disorder demons coming back. This is how I knew to speak to someone.
What helped you during times when you were struggling? Did you have any support?
The support of people online, honestly! Online communities are a godsend! I have my family, although they are in other time zones.
Through Facebook groups, forums, etc., you can always reach out to others.
How do you take care of yourself?
I make sure I nourish myself in some way each day. Whether that’s a quick yoga practice or watching an episode of something, taking a long drive or reading alone in the park.
Did this challenge affect others in your family?
It did affect others, especially my husband as he worried about me a lot.
How did you balance addressing their needs and your own?
We work on it together as a team, coming up with coping strategies and meal ideas for when I’m at home alone. It’s a group effort.
How are things today versus when you first encountered this challenge?
Honestly, it has its vulnerabilities based on a bunch of factors. Whether we have other stressors, hormones, life… etc. I feel better equipped to deal with things now though than when I was first diagnosed.
What advice would you give other moms going through something similar?
I would say speak to your GP first. This isn’t something that an unqualified person should give advice about.
As a mother though I would say: Give yourself a break from that guilt that says you should have been rid of “this” (eating disorder) by now.
Are there any helpful resources you would recommend?
What have you learned or gained from this experience?
I’ve learned that eating disorders do not discriminate. I’ve learned to be less secretive and to lean on my support people when I’m struggling.