As the days start to grow shorter and the temperatures start to dip a little lower at night, I am reminded of how I love seasons. The changing of seasons means new things; skiing in the winter, swimming in the summer, flowers in the spring. There are many things to enjoy in each of these seasons, but sometimes they drag on. Sometimes the snow hangs around when you just want to get out on your bike and the spring rain continues on into the summer months.
During the changing of the seasons I always find myself reflecting on the different seasons of life that have lead me to where I am today. Sometimes those memories make me laugh, other times they humble me. But what each does is give me hope knowing each season taught me something that has made me the person I am today. Sometimes the seasons were quick and painless, other times they were painful. Some were repeated as I didn’t quite learn the first time, having to go through the same thing again. Some seasons I had others who were able to help me through having already gone through the same thing. Other times I had to go through it on my own, stuck drowning in my own thoughts and emotions crying out to God for help.
But what happens after we struggle through one of these difficult seasons? Do we try to bury it in our past and ignore it, haunted and still held captive by the thing that used to entangle us or do we arise victorious? One paralyzes us, the other frees us.
As a Freshman in highschool, I went through a season that left me feeling ashamed and broken. During the summer heading into my freshman year, I developed an eating disorder and became anorexic. For so long, I tried to hide it from my classmates, ashamed of my addiction. I would always wear long sleeved shirts to cover my embarrassingly skinny arms. I would eat my lunch alone in a staircase no one else went down to avoid being judged for what I was (or lack thereof) eating. When I missed school for 3 months while I was in treatment I said I was gone due to a heart problem, when the only problem with my heart was that it was struggling to survive due to emaciation.
For a whole year I struggled to regain control of my life. I manipulated various healthcare professionals to avoid going to treatment, but nothing worked. Finally, I was sent to Rogers Memorial Hospital for treatment, and inpatient treatment facility in Oconomowoc, WI. While in treatment, I was able to mend my relationship with food, but I was still ashamed of my past. I avoided telling others of my past struggles with food due to the stigma associated with eating disorders, especially as a male.
Through the remainder of high school and college, I rarely told people of my past struggle with anorexia. I had been in recovery for years and no longer struggled with food, but I still struggled with others looking down on me if they ever found out about my past. I didn’t want who I was to affect how others saw me today.
In recent years I have opened up more about my past struggles with food, but each time I do it is accompanied with a sense of humiliation. Even as I have become more comfortable with who I am, I know others will continue to associate eating disorders with vanity and low self esteem.
Even though there may be a stigma associated with eating disorders in males, I don’t want to see others struggle with the shame I have felt in the past. I don’t want to see others bury their past, hoping no one else will dig it up. I want to see people overcome obstacles and rise victorious, unashamed of what was because of who they are. That’s why I am excited to announce a partnership with The Roger’s Memorial Hospital Foundation as I continue in my quest as a biathlete. It was at Rogers in the fall of 2005 that I spent three months getting my life back. During those three months at Roger’s I had a lot of questions about what the future had in store for me. What happens when I leave? Will I ever be normal again? Will I be able to compete as an athlete again? Unfortunately, there was no one who could answer those question for me at the time and I was released back into the world wondering what was in store for me.
What I was really looking for was hope, hope for a better future. I hated every second I was stuck in my eating disorder and wanted nothing to do with it moving forward, but after a year and half of struggling I forgot what life was like without it.
We are a being made for relationship, stronger together than apart. Sometimes in our toughest times all we want is for someone to empathize with us and validate our feelings. But the last thing we want to do is let that validation validate where we are and discourage us from moving forward.
It's the times when we question ourselves that we need others to believe in us, and this is what Rogers did for me when I was struggling in high school. When someone comes to Rogers, they are in a fragile place, beat up by life and looking for an answer. I am excited to work with Rogers Memorial Hospital to let others know there is hope, and that no matter what they have done or gone through, there are great things in store for them. My hope is that I can help others see that even though we cannot erase our past, we can still author our story into a beautiful one.
Since my last post, I have been in Europe for a short vacation with my family before meeting up with my team for a 3 week training camp in Germany. Below are pictures from that vacation and training camp.
Hiking Romsdalseggen in Andalsnes, Norway
Family picture in Croatia
One of the highlights of our time in Croatia was a sunset paddle on the Adriatic Sea.
Enjoying some snorkeling during a beautiful Croatian sunset on the Adriatic Sea
Vacation was short lived and it was back to training in Slovenia before I knew it.
Racing with World Champion Biathlete Arnd Peiffer during the Summer German National Championships in Arber, Germany
Pursuit race at the German Summer National Championships in Arber, Germany