I Used To Be A Wreck.
When you first glance of this picture of me, you might naturally assume that my life has always been great and that maybe even things have come easily for me. I know I've assumed that about people lots of times. It's natural to assume based on what we see on the outside.
People have told me they think that I have it all together. They assume that I haven’t experienced struggles and challenges like they’ve experienced.
That’s likely because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and a people pleaser, and I care too much about what other people think. So, even when life has been really, really hard, I haven’t let many people see that. I’ve always wanted everyone to think that I have it all together and can handle everything that comes my way.
What I want to share with you is taking a lot of vulnerability and openness on my part. It’s really really hard for someone who has cared way too much about what other people think to be transparent. If what I’m sharing helps anyone to feel like they’re not alone, and that there is hope, then it’s worth it.
The reason I’m choosing to share these things with you is because the times that other people have been brave enough to openly share their challenges and struggles, it has really helped me. It helped me see that I’m not alone and the things that I’ve gone through, others have gone through as well.
Over time, I’ve learned that no matter how perfect someone else’s life might look, no matter how flawless their appearance, there’s always more going on behind the scenes that the rest of us don’t see.
Life for me is good now, and I’m grateful for the challenges and struggles that I’ve gone through because they’ve helped me to grow, and they’ve helped me to help others. But it wasn’t always that way.
Anxiety has plagued me my entire life, for as long as I can remember. Anxiety, depression and panic attacks were so bad in my early 20’s that I had to quit my job and go on disability for a year. I had been fulfilling my dream of modelling with an agency in Toronto and had just finished my reign as Miss Metropolitan Toronto - and I had to give it all up because I couldn’t cope.
Anxiety, low self-esteem and a distorted body image were no doubt the cause of a lot of really bad choices that I made over the course of many years. I won’t go into all of the details here, because it’s not necessary and because truthfully, they sound too much like soap opera material.
I’ve watched a loved one go on diet after diet for as long as I can remember, and when I was younger, I mistakenly came up with the distorted thought that I needed to be thin to be accepted and loved.
I teetered on the verge of anorexia in my teens and practically starved myself for 6 months when I was 16, and at 5’7” and 113 lbs, I still thought I was too big. My view of myself and my worth was completely distorted. I looked sick and I felt even worse.
Partying was something that temporarily made me feel better, and I partied all the way through my teens and into my twenties (even though, the next day I would feel a whole lot worse.)
When I was 35, I became a mom for the first time, and although I was ecstatic at finally being a mom, it was bitter-sweet. I was a single mom from the time my son was born until he was 5 years old. That was not the plan I had for my life, to raise a child completely on my own, and that part of it really, really sucked. I faced a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.
I worked full-time with my son in daycare from the time he was a year old, and I felt like life was passing me by. It felt like all I did was work, pick up my son, get dinner ready, spend a bit of time with him, put him to bed, clean the house and drop dead-tired into bed by 9pm. And then repeat it all the next day.
My son rarely slept for more than 2-4 hours at a time until he was 2 years old, so needless to say, I was a walking zombie for years.
Physically, I suffered with IBS and digestive disorders, adrenal fatigue caused by stress, extreme tiredness, moodiness, candida overgrowth, food sensitivities, and I continued to battle with anxiety and depression on and off.
I can’t tell you how many counsellors and doctors I had seen in those years and how many medications I reluctantly took for anxiety and depression, and some of them did help temporarily.
The real changes and the lasting changes took place over the course of several years.
Like I said, life is not perfect now and I’m certainly far from perfect, but looking back at everything I just wrote now, it all seems like a lifetime ago.
Although I always had a passion for natural health (I grew up on a farm in the country where we basically ate off the land), that passion was hidden in the background while I was in the depths of everything I was going through.
When that passion did resurface and I had the chance to go back to school to study natural nutrition, I used everything that I learned from my course, from naturopathic doctors and from my own experiences of what worked and didn’t work and put them all into action for my own healing journey.
Through that journey and with the help of certain counsellors and pastors, I was on the way to health and wholeness.
Along the way, I had hoped for a magic pill or supplement to make everything better, but I came to realize that it wasn’t one specific thing that was going to help, but a tool kit of many things, including changing how I ate, making lifestyle changes (sleep, stress, exercise), changing my mindset (with daily declarations, prayer, relaxation techniques) and in my case, a counsellor to work through issues that needed to be worked through.
It wasn’t until I started feeling better that I realized just how awful I felt before, and that it really wasn’t how I was meant to feel. I had thought it was my normal.
Even when I do indulge now and then (which does happen), I notice a huge difference in how I feel afterwards, because now my norm is feeling good.
I no longer believe the distorted lie that I need to be thin to be accepted. I ‘choose’ to be the size I am now because it makes me feel good.
Regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, reducing stress and Mindset are huge for me when it comes to how I feel physically, emotionally and mentally. They all work together, and what affects one part, affects the whole.
Looking back, I can appreciate every lesson I learned and every challenge that I faced, because they helped me become who I am today, and it’s blessed me with a compassion and understanding for what other people are going through, that I may not have had otherwise.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you.
May Anne xo
P.S. If any of what I shared resonates with you, please share it in the comments below. You may help someone else reading this. Or, you can send me an email HERE.
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is truly a lover of all things Natural Health. Her passion is helping women to lose the weight for good, in a practical and sustainable way, so they can stop dieting, feel good about themselves and like what they see in the mirror.