Getting Healthy: One Year

As of yesterday, it’s been exactly one year since I’ve gone off birth control. And — surprise, surprise — I still don’t have my period back.

It’s bittersweet, for sure. A big part of me has loved not having to deal with all that girl stuff for a year, and while it’s weird, it’s still a relief. But at the same time, I know it’s not healthy. And I really never thought it would be gone this long.

For the past two months I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t really paid much attention to the nagging fact that my body isn’t at it’s healthiest. But now that it’s been a year, it’s hard to ignore. Only my mom, sister and a close friend know about my missing period, and my mom is the only one who really knows the extent of it.

I tried. I went to the doctor, and got all kinds of tests and was asked many questions about my overall health. The test results all came back normal. I was supposed to be referred to an endocrinologist, but then the whole job/moving thing took over and it fell by the wayside. I have health insurance through my new employer, but I’m still settling in and haven’t taken advantage of it. It’s just all so overwhelming.

But I know it’s doing me no good to keep waiting. To keep hoping it’ll just come back on it’s own. I’m sure it’s possible, but probably not likely. And let’s face it, part of me is secretly pleased that I don’t get it. It proves that I still struggle with an eating disorder.

In my last post, I admitted that getting healthy wasn’t my biggest priority at the moment. I don’t regret that at all, because I had a lot on my plate then and I was in no position to get a doctor’s appointment only to move hundreds of miles away a week later. But I don’t have the luxury of blowing this off anymore. I have to be brave, and take the initiative to get my health back. I have to find a doctor, make an appointment, possibly go through dozens of tests again, and wait for the results. It might not seem as life-threatening as cancer, but it’s still a health concern that could affect me down the road. And if I spend all this money on healthy food and time working out to be my healthiest on the outside, then I need to put the same effort into making sure my body is healthy on the inside too.

No questions, just any advice would be much appreciated! 

Getting Healthy: Part 2

The second in a series of posts about my health issues after eating disorder recovery. You can read the introductory post here

My doctor’s appointment and blood tests were over a month ago, and I finally received the results in the mail. I was anxiously awaiting them, hoping they’d be the key in helping me figure out why my body isn’t working the way it should.

I shouldn’t have put all my hope in the results, though. They came back completely clean, all within normal ranges. On the one hand, this made me happy, because who doesn’t want to have a healthy, functioning body? Everything I was tested for (which was a LOT, they took a lot of blood from me) checked out, including the thyroid test (TSH), which was one thing I was suspecting to be an issue.

Now I’m frustrated and confused. I got a voicemail a week or so ago from my doctor’s office saying I was referred to an endocrinologist. Of course, the timing isn’t great, since I’m moving out of state in two weeks. So if I want to figure this out (and of course I do), I have to find a new doctor once I move and possibly get tested again or get in to see an endocrinologist and have to explain my history. Also the fact that I may have to see an endocrinologist scares me, because that means it’s really a hormonal issue. It’s not something I can cover up anymore and pretend that it’s no big deal. This May will mark one full year without a period. I know some women recovering from an eating disorder go even longer without one, but the fact that I’ve never had one on my own is also a red flag.

I’m not sure where to go from here, and to be perfectly honest, figuring this out isn’t one of my top priorities at the moment. I’m a few weeks away from starting my first full time job, on top of moving to a new place and settling in there and finding a routine and figuring out everything on my own. I’m not planning on finding a doctor as soon as I get there, so this may be put on the back burner for a little while. I know that may not be the best thing for me, but it is what it is. Right now, I have to prioritize my new job and new life over my health.

Hopefully I can provide more updates in the next couple of months, but for now, I’m going to be focusing on moving and starting a job.

Have you ever prioritized something else over your health?

Am I Healthy?

Just a warning in advance, this post talks a lot about birth control and all that fun girl stuff, so any guy readers out there–you can skip this one! I know this is just what you want to read the day before Thanksgiving, but I thought it was an important topic that a lot of women out there can relate to!

I’m not sure I’ve ever shared my full birth control story on here but I’ll just give you all a quick rundown so you have a little background as to where I’m coming from. After I was diagnosed with anorexia in the spring of 2009, I started seeing a dietitian and therapist. I stopped seeing the dietitian after a few months but I kept going to therapy appointment regularly until I graduated from high school in May 2010. One thing that both my doctor and therapist recommended a few months into recovery was that I take birth control to jump start my periods. Before this point, I had NEVER had my period before, ever. I was 17 at the time this was suggested to me, and I always felt so awkward at school when girls would talk about their ‘time of the month’ because I had literally never had one, and I was almost out of high school! But at the same time, I was scared out of my mind to take BC. I had heard all the horror stories, mostly of weight gain, and in the early stages of ED recovery, weight gain was the last thing on my mind. So I put off taking it for various reasons until January of 2010. My first period felt like a blessing and a curse–I knew that meant that I was at least capable of having one, but the potential side effects still scared me.

After high school graduation, and early on in my BC experience.

After high school graduation, and early on in my BC experience.

Fast forward 3 years. I had been on low dose BC since early 2010 without many side effects. I liked that it regulated my period and how I always knew exactly when it was coming. BC also kept my moderate acne at bay for the most part, which I also loved. But earlier this year, I started getting headaches more frequently with my period, and my acne was coming back more often. I started toying with the idea of getting off BC, at least for a few months, to see if my body could get it back on its own. Part of me was definitely hoping that I wouldn’t get it back, and that would help me justify to myself that I was still too thin.

Well, I got my wish. I got off BC in May of this year, and as of now (late November) I still haven’t gotten my period back. It’s been a full six months since I’ve had one, and while I love not having to deal with all that crap, I’m also worried. My doctor said to come back and see her if in six months I hadn’t had a period. Back in May, I was so sure that wouldn’t happen. But it did.

I’m kind of scared to go back to the doctor, because I really don’t want to be put back on BC. I’m not so sure how I feel about hormones being pumped into my body, and even though the kind I was using was pretty symptom-free, it did create some problems for me a few years after I started taking it. A lot of people say BC is also a crutch–it doesn’t solve the underlying issue of amenorrhea.

I won’t lie–missing my period kind of helps me validate that I might not be at my healthiest weight. I struggle with this a lot, because even though I haven’t weighed myself since this summer, I’m pretty sure I’m at my highest weight ever. I may still be technically underweight or on the low end of the healthy spectrum, but I don’t have the most positive body image still and having a more physical manifestation of my ED struggles helps me cope with it.

Not going to lie, I don't feel comfortable with how my body looks in this photo.

Not going to lie, I don’t feel comfortable with how my body looks in this photo.

The question is, am I healthy? I’ve been worried that my lack of a period might be due to a more serious issue, like PCOS (it is fairly common in women who aren’t overweight), but I do know that missing a period for even a few months isn’t healthy. As much as I’ve enjoyed spending half of this year without one, I know I need to be more proactive and take control of my health. So I plan on going back to my doctor in December or January to check in on this and hopefully get to the bottom of this issue.

I promise I’ll be back after Thanksgiving to share some less awkward stuff (like fun recipes, etc.) but I would appreciate any and all advice you guys have about this topic!

Have you ever had a similar experience?