Katie’s Story.

I’m still in disbelief. I have officially recovered from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.

I hope my story can inspire someone else. So here goes.. Let’s start back where my journey begins. Coming from a childhood where I was never thin by society’s standard. I always had to shop in the plus section as I got older in the children’s department. It always was in the back of my mind that there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I wear the same clothes as all the other little girls?  I started my period when I was 12 years old the summer between 7th and 8th grade. Everything was normal. My cycles were normal and very regular.

Fast forward to 9th grade in high school. I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food. My lack of friends and the weight I already was had taken over my mind. I was eating my lunch that was packed, my friends lunch (who decided she wouldn’t eat that year) and bought lunch at the al a cart line. There was something comforting about those rectangle pizzas with the ranch and those giant cheese stuffed pretzels. When I would get home I would often sneak food before dinner.

I made it to the highest weight of my life and I was completely ashamed and broken.

One day at the lunch table the same 9th grade year my friends were talking about what we were doing in gym class and each of them were talking about whether or not they had abs. The remark came up from one of my very close friends “Katie doesn’t have abs.” I know this friend meant nothing by that remark and we still talk to this day. She doesn’t have any idea this would make my world spiral out of control. It was at no fault of hers. This was all on me.

I decided though right then and there that there needed to be a change. I was going to get “fit.” I started to count my calories and eat way too few (I didn’t really know what I was doing.) I thought I was doing the right thing by limiting myself to around 1,200 calories a day and taking up running. I started just being able to run a quarter mile.. then a mile and so on.

I wasn’t big into the exercise at this point. I just wanted to lose weight and be healthy. I went on to continue this through the summer until I went back in for my 10th grade year that fall. I had lost all those stubborn pounds and felt healthy. I was at a my bodies happy weight. I did end up getting a stress fracture that year (probably because of my lack of nutrition looking back and going from a couch potato to a “runner”.)

Once school started back though I started eating like a normal teen at this point. No longer counting no longer restricting. Just enjoying life and not over doing anything. Still being active but not excessive.I finally started to feel like I fit in at school that year. I felt like I was finally being noticed and no longer the heavy kid with no friends. (Side note: I did leave high school that year to be homeschooled, something I had wanted my mom to do with me since I was small. We were finally able to do it and I was thrilled.)

So a year or so past and everything continued fine.

I was able to graduate a year early through homeschooling. That was 2009. That same year I got the bright idea I wanted to start doing more racing events. I had already done one sprint triathlon at this point and fell in love with running and biking both, but this time I wanted to run a marathon.

I started severely restricting my calories thinking this was the way to become a lean and disciplined athlete. Little did I know that this training would be the thing that would make my cycles disappear and cause the next 8 years to get a bit messy. I never ran the marathon that year. I became very thin. I had hit my lowest weight ever. I had to many aches and pains to pursue it, but I didn’t give up the exercise and the food restriction.

I started to have severe constipation and went 9 months without my period. I went to doctor after doctor for the stomach issues…no one said anything about my lifestyle. They wanted to do colonoscopies and prescribe me laxatives. The gynecologists answer was the birth control pill. Nothing about my weight or what could be causing this.

So I continued on my same path taking my Mira Lax and starting the birth control. Everything was working now. So I’m fine, Right? Yeah right. The stomach issues worked themselves out so I was able to get rid of the laxatives, but continued to remain on the pill.

The next year came and I met my now husband. That was in 2010. I was in love. So I no longer cared about the food. I just wanted to spend every minute with him. I became a whole new person (actually my old self) eating whatever, whenever and wherever. We dated for 6 short months. Got engaged and were married 6 months after that. He is the love of my life and my very best friend. He has been a solid rock for the next few years that I am going to talk about next.

I am so thankful to God he stuck with me and my illness I thought was over.

Once life got back to normal back to working and just doing the day to day normal and the honeymoon stage was over…I decided I would get back into my training again. I was going to run a marathon this time. I found out in the beginning of 2012 that a local radio station was going to Nashville to walk the half marathon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. So I thought here’s my chance! I bet I could participate with them and run the marathon instead.

So that’s what I did. I raised my money and I trained my already worn out body. I ate what I thought was right and counted every calorie. I weighed myself everyday. I had no idea how to train for a marathon, but I continued with my obsessive compulsive behavior and managed to finish that race in April that year. By God’s grace I survived it and am so thankful nothing serious health wise came about from it. Who counts calories the day they run 26.2 miles?… Well that would be me.

I continued the year of 2012 still trying to do races around the area…5k’s and sprint triathlons and duathlons. I found out I was fast and I really loved the sport. The summer of 2012 my mom approached me explaining she thought there was something else wrong. That I was doing more than just training for these events. Of course I was in denial. I didn’t want to admit I was controlling my food and my exercise to control my image.

I had a deathly fear of ever becoming that overweight teenager again, but of course I wasn’t going to admit that.

I just shrugged it off making it sound like I was fine. I hope my mom knows how sorry I am for all I put her through. I am so ashamed of my behavior. I don’t think I could ever forgive myself for the person I had turned into those years. That day God gave me a much needed wake up call. As I drove home to my house a few miles away a song came on the radio that I had never heard. “When Mercy Found Me” by the Rhett Walker Band.

I had to pull over I was crying so hard. In that moment I just felt a complete sense of guilt and also freedom surround me. That same afternoon an old friend from school sent me a Facebook message. (Mind you we hadn’t talked since I can’t even remember when) Telling me how she thought how great it was that I became healthy and how I inspired her in some way.

I shamefully messaged her back stating my current issues and how there is no way you would ever want to be envious of this mess. Was that message God’s timing or what? After this day I started seeking some sort of counsel. I knew I did not want to go to an eating disorder treatment center…I wasn’t that sick, right? I don’t need to go there.

So I just had some counseling from a family friend. It was so helpful for me, but it did not get to the root of my issues. I was able to deal with the sudden extreme panic attacks better and I was able to give up the My fitness pal app and the weighing myself up to 3 times a day. I still didn’t know how to fix the eating and the exercise though. I didn’t need the counter I knew what was in everything at this point. My head became my calculator.

I managed to put on a little weight over the next year of 2013 and the year passed with a few races but I don’t really recall any major events that year. Even though there were little things in my life that caused me more pain and stress than I realized at the time.

Fast forward to July 2014. I had stopped the birth control pills the month before. When my cycle didn’t come I just assumed it would take me a few months for things to work out. When it came time for my yearly gynecologist appointment, I went in with a let down feeling. Telling her I still haven’t gotten my cycle and at this point soon my husband and I would want to start a family. She didn’t have too many answers for me. She sent me to another doctor who did bring up the female athlete triad. She recommended to stop exercising and put on some more weight. Well I didn’t.

I couldn’t give up the things that kept my image of who I thought I was supposed to be.

Probably a good time to mention…I never did get those abs. Even with my severe restriction and no matter how many crunches I did. Katie CAN’T get abs! That is all there is to it. Boy do I wish someone would have just told me that in the 9th grade. Anyways continue into 2015…still no cycle…still exercising…still watching what I eat. 2016…Same thing. 

In May of 2016 I met with an RE that my gyno referred me to because at this point I was desperate. He told my husband and I about all the test’s we would have to do prior to treatment and sent us on our way. We did the tests and we had no problems on either side excepts for me and my lack of cycle. I failed my provera test but passed when I was given estrogen and progesterone both. So if I can get my cycle I can get pregnant.

I was officially diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea that day. I came home frantically searching the internet to find the magic cure. I saw things like stop exercise, eat more, don’t stress. Do you think I would just jump to this answer? No not me. Remember I couldn’t ever gain the weight back I had worked so hard to lose all those years ago.

So he prescribed some different things we would try to help us conceive. We do not have insurance for infertility so believe me it became extremely expensive. After two failed fertility treatments that year (because my lining was still to thin) it was time to move onto more expensive routes. I was devastated and I knew there had to be something else I could do.

This is December 2016. I went in for a meeting and just asked him what would be the thing I need to do to help this process along. I knew what it was. I had to stop exercising and I had to put on weight. He told me though it is his job to find me the right combination of medicine to get me pregnant. I said what if I make the lifestyle changes. He said you could but it would still take time for you to get pregnant. Even after I would get my period back.

I decided in my mind that day would be the day that I would and financially had to put in the work if I wanted to conceive. I am so very thankful to this day I didn’t get pregnant on either of those cycles. I would not be the person I am right at this moment if that doctors magic cure worked for me. Because I would still be battling these demons that were in my mind and then bring a child into the mess on top of it. I did NOT want a band aid again. Thank you God for making me wait! (Even though I surely wasn’t thanking Him at the time)

At this point I decided I would just walk and do light weights.

I knew I had to eat more so I did try to change that. In the course of those past few years I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Which did cause me extreme stomach pain that has been gone ever since going GF. I didn’t hardly eat any carbs though because I thought I hated GF bread even though I hadn’t even given it a chance because of all the calories it had…Im not going to eat that…its horrible I would say.

I met P from The HA Sisterhood and reached out to her for guidance. Her phone conversations with me were so beneficial. I started reading up on all the info I could get online and on different blogs and Facebook groups. I was going to figure out how to beat this! I am competitive by nature so getting my period back started to feel like another competition.

I thought I was doing everything right, I had gained back to a healthy BMI. I was only walking and I ate a ton. It wasn’t until about May of this year that I met the person God placed in my life to help me get over my final hurdle with HA. We text back in forth daily about the foods we are eating. We both decided we weren’t really getting in quite as many calories as we needed. I decided to give it the last push of getting around 3,000 calories a day and to also add in all those GF carbs I always refused. (I can’t believe I said I hated them..they really aren’t all that bad!) May passed and then June. I was starting to feel even more discouraged. Thinking what more can I do.

And then July 1, 2017 it happened!

I got my period back for the first time since 2009 naturally. I was so ecstatic. I sat and cried for the first few minutes. I still can’t believe it as I sit here writing this. I have prayed and prayed for this miracle and it finally happened. God truly heard and answered my prayers and gave me the courage to Trust Him. To let myself fully rely on His power and His timing and to give up all my control.

I didn’t weigh myself in those last weeks leading up to my cycle. I didn’t control my food. I ate when I was hungry and I ate when I wanted something else. Even if it wasn’t time to eat. I walk still but I walk because I love to be active. Not because I have to and if I miss a day or don’t want to. Guess what? I don’t do it. I do not do anything out of force or stress or anxiety or guilt. I am finally FREE from the chains of my sins and I am so so grateful.

I know this isn’t going to be an easy process especially as we go on trying to conceive and I surely am not going to get my hopes up that things will work out as I plan because I know they won’t. It is all up to Him and that is where my trust is. Thank you to all the beautiful women I have met in this process. I am always here for all of you and all the new faces who read this. I am so thankful of where I am at and all I want to do now is help you. When you can achieve this freedom it is the absolute best feeling it the world.