This post may be sensitive to some readers.
The shame that comes from struggling with an eating disorder is like no other, the judgement, side eyes, and disapproving gazes are enough to make you want to lock yourself away, so imagine going through it while you are pregnant.
Pregnancy is hard enough without feeling terrified every time you look at a plate of food, counting calories, and trembling internally at the idea of having to gain any more weight than you are already going to gain whether you want to or not.
I heard about Maggie Baumann's story recently from The Huffington Post feature, I Got Hate Mail For Discussing My Battle With Anorexia While Pregnant, and knew that I wanted to share my story. I was inspired by the courage that she had to share such an experience, especially one that included the devastating effect that her battle, with pregorexia had on her child. In many ways, I even understand why there was such a backlash, after all, becoming a parent has made me very protective of every child I meet, hear about, or even watch on television. I find myself getting angry at the mere idea of someone harming a child, even one I do not know.
No one likes the idea of an innocent being affected in such a terrible way.
That is precisely why I was so happy to hear about Maggie, and the walls that she stripped down by sharing this story, because my hope is that we can allow women to be able to have the courage to ask for help, rather than fighting an uphill battle alone.
I suffered silently through my senior year of high school, refusing to believe that anyone could understand my fear of food, and what it could do to me. I had a fiery love, hate relationship with food for so long, there came a point where I was mentally exhausted by the idea of food.
After years of fighting an uphill battle alone, I found myself married and pregnant with my second child. With an uneventful first pregnancy that ended in a relatively painless two hour labor, the challenges of the second one were beyond surprising. I found myself facing demons I thought I had long overcome, and suddenly found myself terrified of the weight gain that comes with pregnancy. I was still carrying some weight from my first, and the idea of it all piling on left me with intense, overbearing panic attacks that left me hospitalized at least three times.
Fortunately for me, I had a doctor who caught my anxiety pretty early on and helped me cope, I had a healthy daughter, but I also understand how quickly everything could have unraveled not only for myself, but for my then unborn child.
Which is why I can say that we need more women like Maggie Baumann to speak up, to share their stories, and to help us end the shame that comes from eating disorders, as well as all other mental disorders that affect so many of us, and leads so many to suffer alone in silence.
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If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.