A fairy tale might include a pretty alpine picture with my face glistening in the setting sun. Though many rainbows and golden stars, this story is real.

Massive peaks and brilliant glaciers that loom above the valley lend to full days on the trails; most conducive to battling this undulating road to acceptance. Hours on foot enduring mammoth vertical gain can lead me to the place I aim for; the place with a healthy perspective celebrating my ability to put one foot in front of the other, enough vision to see and embrace the vastness of the alps. When running mindfully, I can feel a calm assurance; I can achieve a healthier relationship with the chaos inside and rise above it.There has been much chaos inside my head since it was traumatized in September 2014. Never have I expected the wake of the trauma to disappear as I venture into mountains. There are things that, though not invited or packed in my backpack, managed to come along for the journey; today, namely a tarnished appetite.

From the time of my accident when the blow to my head resulted in severe nausea and vomiting, I have struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food. Intermittent memories of the near 48 hours I spent listless, vomiting in bed with a bleeding and swelling brain have scarred and left me repulsed. Ultimately such repulsion led to the development of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and with it, life threatening complications. Dependent on multiple feeding tubes, thus more physical scarring, months of intensive treatment, therapy and a team of world renowned medical experts collectively provided life saving medical stabilization, weight restoration and got me safely back on my feet. Now here I am on my feet, alive and able to thrive in so many ways, yet the battle continues.  My body has been to the brink of death yet I am rarely kind to it. I know what I need to do to be at my best mentally and physically yet at times there is an incomprehensible disconnect.  

I find myself easily connected and drawn to individuals who are inspiring, authentic, and empathetic. Their size, shape, BMI, marathon time, what they ate for breakfast or diet trend they follow are meaningless. Yet along with the lost appeal I once had for food, I am prone to losing the sense of reality that I, in fact, need to disregard any such numbers that apply to myself and need to nourish my body with no room for quantitative statistics. Back to those insidious thoughts of all things pre-September 2014; thoughts that make absolutely no sense, thoughts that my authentic self knows are absurd and dangerous, thoughts that need attention. With my background as an avid athlete, Health, Physical Education and Sport Science teacher, coach, along with months of intensive support for my eating disorder, concepts of nutrition, physical and mental health are not new to me. That said, I have fed an uncountable number of forest and trail creatures with sport bars and homemade energy food made to fuel runs, convincing myself that I have enough stores to power through and that such calories are not a necessity. There is no consistent setting or commonality that results in such behaviour. It has happened when I feel strong, sailing down a trail with what at the moment felt like positive thoughts of invincibility. It has happened when I am struggling up a climb hearing demons shouting that calories are not going to help me get any faster or fit like I used to be. It has happened while challenged by technical terrain, how can I expect to be light and nimble on my feet if I am adding weight?

Like my fractured skull, you cannot put a cast or band-aid on an Eating Disorder. Similarly both take patience and have powerful, painful consequences.

Recovery from trauma is hard work, such a different type of work necessary to power up and around the Mont Blanc massif. A fairy tale of my journey from a painstaking blow to the head travelling the world might end here with a pretty alpine mountain picture; the left side of my face glistening in sun as it sets over the French alps. My story is not a fictitious story  for children; the trauma is real,  the recovery arduous. Like mountain running, despite the training and support, progress is slow, making for eminent learning along the trail.

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