For those of you who don't know me, my name is Veronica Lawler. I'm a twenty-three year old New Orleanian making my way through life and taking in all the beauty it has to offer. I am a senior at the University of New Orleans working towards my degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Health Studies. My life revolves around my two passions, singing and health and nutrition. Singing has been my favorite thing to do ever since I was a little girl, and I just love exercising and eating healthy food. I could end this blog post by saying that my healthy lifestyle came easily to me, that I lost weight the healthy way, became a well-known Dietitian and lived happily ever after....but I'd be lying. I dreamed of that for a long time, but the actual experience of my dreams were somewhat different.
My battles were handed to me at a very young age, which in turn led to even bigger problems in my future. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when I was in first grade. It wasn't anything drastic at the time, but as I got older, your typical OCD ritual of turning the lights off three times escalated into bigger obsessions. For me, this obsession was my weight. The summer before entering my sophomore year of high school I became terribly depressed and my mind was overcome with negative thoughts and, call me crazy, but voices in my head. "You're not good enough. You're not pretty enough. You're not worthy of life." Hours of prayer, therapy sessions, tearful and sleepless nights. I couldn't silence them no matter what I did and I no longer felt I had control over anything in my life. However, there was one thing these "voices" couldn't control, and that was what I ate. That's where my problem started. I allowed myself to succumb to the pressures of being perfect, and my life took a turn for the worst.
Eating no more than 500-600 calories a day combined with over excessive exercise, my weight as well as my overall health plummeted. I dropped to a weight of 96 pounds, was beginning to lose my hair, completely lost my menstrual cycle, and became severely anemic. I started self-induced vomiting and also abused laxatives. I was a victim of my inner demons and was soon diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. I wanted help, I was just terrified on how to ask for it or if I was even willing to try. It wasn't until my high school counselor, (Mrs. Amanda Pellegrin, who I am still so unbelievably thankful for to this day and owe my life to,) made it known to me that she knew I had a problem and was willing to help me. She was the first person who made me feel worthy of recovery and, for the first time in a few months, worthy of life. I wanted nothing more than to make her proud, and in the end, I started to become proud of myself.
Recovery has brought me so many gifts. For one, it showed me the beauty of life. For years, I was so blind to see it letting my disorder get in the way. But in freeing myself from its chains, I now see life in a whole new perspective I didn't think was possible. Another gift it brought me was my choice of study. I want nothing more than to spread my knowledge of health and wellness with others in hoping that I can help them improve their bodies by fueling them with the proper nutrients. I could go on for days talking about the many gifts and benefits recovery has brought me, but I want to take this time to talk about one in particular I'm so unbelievably thankful for, which is the person behind this blog, Taylor Melancon. Taylor was my roommate when we studied Dietetics together at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In such a short amount of time, she turned from roommate, to best friend, to one of my biggest inspirations. She's such a hardworking, smart, and driven individual who is so passionate about health and the benefits of nutrition. She really motivated me to work hard in school and to keep pushing through recovery. She is easily one of the best friends I have ever had and I know she will make an absolute incredible Dietitian.
I hope no one sees this as my sob story, because I see it as my story of never ending success. Recovery isn't over and it never will be. I go through this battle from the second I wake up to the very moment my head hits the pillow. Although it's not exactly what I would've wished for, this was the hand I was dealt and I'm learning to accept it. I am surrounded by God as well as the most amazing support system and now it's my turn to give back, which is why I'm so passionate about health and nutrition. My main goal in life is to help someone overcome an eating disorder, or any mental disorder at that, just as I am continuously learning to do so. If I can inspire just one person out there to get the help they need and the motivation to work towards bettering themselves both physically and mentally, then I have far surpassed the expectations I've made for myself.
Each day given to me is a reminder that God isn't finished with me yet and that I am still alive for a reason. I am not my past, and I am not my disorder.