Laura Kimberley: Living With Demons
Hi my name is Laura I'm 37. I think I was born a Beautiful Disaster. I was born to parents that were on the verge of divorce and didn't want another child. Growing up I struggled with depression and self harm. My grandparents were my safe place. At 16 I got pregnant with my beautiful daughter, I not only graduated high school but worked and went on to graduate college. But it was not easy, in that time I was abused by a family member and in a mentally abusive relationship with my daughter's father. I pushed on still struggling with depression and self harm but had loving, supportive friends at my job that I loved, they helped me end the relationship with my daughter's father and try and move on with my life (I was a phlebotomist) but all the years of battling abuse, depression and self harm brought on new demons...anxiety, agoraphobia and anorexia.
I remember the day my anorexia started like it was yesterday and not ten years ago. I was at work and trying so hard to focus on my patients and what I had to get done that day, but what was happening in my personal life was taking over my thoughts. I remember thinking ok I need a distraction, I'm going to diet, only my "dieting" very quickly became living on exactly three pieces of candy a day and two cups of coffee (that was literally what I ate all day) and excessive exercising, I walked 10 miles a day, before I knew it I was exercising any way I could at work too.
Within two months I was a walking skeleton (when I see pictures now I still can't believe that was me, and that I survived that) I was so weak that I could no longer hold a baby's arm while one of my coworkers drew their blood, eventually I had to have someone in my office with me at all times incase a patient passed out because I didn't even have the strength to guide them to the floor. My boss was amazing, she was so patient with me and did everything she could to keep me at work. Three months into anorexia I was put on desk work. My home life was extremely difficult, my daughter was ten at the time, at mealtimes I would pretend to eat with her. How I got through homework, housework and everything that comes with running a home as a single parent is beyond me.
My agoraphobia kicked in full blown now, leaving my apartment was the scariest thing for me. I would get all ready for work, walk out my apartment door and be frozen, I just couldn't make myself step outside. I went from perfect attendance at work for 9 years to calling in at least once a week. My boss put me on FMLA (Family & Medical Leave Act) to protect my job, essentially it meant I had a certain number of days each month I could call in and it wouldn't be held against me. But my doctors decided that I just couldn't work anymore so they put me on short term disability. Finally my father stepped in, for the first time in my life and forced me to go to an eating disorder clinic. It was an outpatient clinic Monday through Friday.
But I honestly didn't think I was sick enough for that and I was too scared to leave my apartment to go. After two days I left the clinic. At this point I was constantly dehydrated and had panic attacks several times a day. Some days I managed to leave my home, on those days my daughter and I would go get whatever we needed at the store, etc. after six months my weight was still dangerously low and it was becoming harder and harder for me to leave my home. But my ex and some family members made me feel so guilty for not being at work that I forced myself to go back. I lasted four days.
On a Thursday six years ago I went to work, got through my day and went home. That evening I had a nervous breakdown and that was the last day I was able to work again. My doctors put me on permanent disability, I don't remember the two weeks after that night. My mother took care of my daughter for those two weeks. After that I was back in the eating disorder clinic, but agoraphobia kept me from being able to leave my apartment and getting there. By this time I knew I was going to die if I didn't start to eat. Honestly at that time I didn't care much, but I couldn't leave my daughter behind. So I started with boost, and very slowly began eating small meals again. It took a full year and many hard days but I was at an "acceptable" weight and no longer all bones. Somehow through all that I was able to keep myself out of the hospital, my short time in the ED clinic taught me some tips and tricks to stay out.
For several years after that I struggled with eating, skipping meals some days, not eating at all other days. Then I met my now fiancé, David (that was 5 years ago) he has been my rock, in the beginning he would patiently sit with me until I'd finished a meal, now he keeps a check on what I've eaten during the day and makes sure I eat my dinner with him. So, between David and my daughter (who would do the same with me by the time she was 12) I have survived anorexia, something I didn't know until a year into it that I was so close to losing my life to. Since then I'm still unable to work due to debilitating panic disorder, depression and agoraphobia. I have been clean from self harm for 6 months now. Life is still rough, I still struggle daily. Leaving my home some days is impossible for me, I get up get ready and try to walk out the door only to be frozen with fear. I very rarely go out alone. Even with David some days the agoraphobia wins and we walk back into the house. Some days he sits with me on the front porch coaching me on, telling me I am safe and finally getting me to the car. David gets me to all my appointments and does the food shopping, on a good day I'm able to go with him.
When I first saw this clothing line I immediately identified with it and felt less alone. I absolutely love what the beautiful disaster line stands for. My life now has to be as simple as possible but we make the most of everyday, taking advantage of the good ones and riding out the bad ones together. I'm a Beautiful Disaster who is blessed to have my amazing fiancé right by my side and my daughter and future son in law always there for me.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story ❤❤