The first time I purged on purpose was July 1, 2004. For the next nine years, I put my body, mind, and soul through hell for no reason other than self-hate and disbelief in my own self-worth.
Not quite the journey I expected when I was in University, dreaming of the day I could wear a corporate power suit and have a high-level marketing job. Rather, I struggled with looking in the mirror, going to work and feeling like a fraud in my suit, hiding my “quirk” as people called it, and living as a shell of the person I actually could be. Of the person I actually am.
My Power Suit Tumble
In June 2011, while working in an awesome marketing role with one of the Big 4 accounting firms, my power suit career vision came tumbling down as I took time off to enter an out-patient eating disorder program at the Alberta Children’s Hospital at age 29.
And I am grateful for everything – the fall, the self-hate, the team I worked with who supported me, the transformation of food from “to be thrown up” to “fueling my body,” the laughter, and the tears. Most importantly, I am grateful to learn that my depression doesn’t define me.
Rather, it empowers me to be a better person.
Rather, it empowers me to be a better person. A more complete version of who I truly am.
I’ve also since discovered that this “quirk” people referred to was my true power suit. Not a structure cotton-blend. When I stopped hiding who I was – puns, awkward voice pitches, and personal stutters – I was able to step into my voice and discover where I could make real impact. And this is a direct result of what makes me different.
What The Quirk Does
Plain and simple, in embracing my quirk, particularly during times my anxiety starts to kick in, I am able to focus more on who I’m with, looking to find points of connection in conversation for better understanding and empathy. It allows for a deeper understanding of people.
Who the Quirk Connects To
Once desperate to be liked by everyone, I was in a constant bundle of trying to please. By realizing that no matter who I am, who you are, who anyone is, WE ALL HAVE PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT LIKE US and, therefore, will never hear us. Through sharing my journey with my full personality of crass bathroom puns, people have connected with me, letting me know they finally feel heard. That they are not alone on their journey, and that they can be happy, lovable, and functional while living with their Depression Brain Roommate.
Selfishly, this makes me a better version of me. No longer using all my energy to hide my voice, I’m able to add real value and a real ear to people who need it…and that includes making a joke to bring a split-second smile to someone’s face.
The Quirk…Saved Others
“Happy go-lucky elf,” this is what my family saw me as growing up (and hopefully still do). This is what many people (friends, colleagues, Grocery Store Clerk) who saw glimpses of the quirk also noticed.
So, when this happy go-lucky elf spoke up about 1) needing help, 2) getting help, and 3) how help was…well, helping…others listened. And then took action. While they are not my stories to tell, I have received countless emails from people indicating that by hearing my story and seeing me – smiling, being honest and unashamed about my own purging and depression/anxiety journey – they are reaching out to get help.
For a few individuals who are parts of my heart, I have never been more honoured than when they shared with me that they finally reached out because I did. And if I could do so without shame, why couldn’t they? This direct impact would not have happened had I remained committed to purging out my quirk so I could be a shell “liked” by everyone.
What I’ve learned about my story is that just because I had a vision of who I wanted to be when I was 18, doesn’t mean that it was who I ever meant to be.
In other words, life allows us to grow. We just have to be open to facing, challenging, and then conquering the demons that appear along the way. When we do, we can do things that we never imagined were capable for us – including transforming a decade of purging and a lifetime of self-hate into compassion, kindness, empathy…and bathroom puns.
Your first step to realizing your own power suit:
Release the vision or story about yourself that is blocking you from realizing your worth and impact. Take a moment to think about why you are amazing, different, loveable, and, important to the right people in your life. For me, this helped me release my power suit vision and replace my purging with supporting others in feeling more connected to their voice and own story.
Lindsay Harle-Kadatz is author of “Depression Constipation: How Pooping Saved My Sanity…and Other Stories,” an explosive tale that uses a bit of crass humour in breaking the stigma of depression, helping others realize they’re not alone, while bringing a bit more understanding to what depression is.
When not making puns with the best of them, she runs The Write Harle, a brand messaging and content development company dedicated to supporting businesses find and share their own unique voice.
After all of that, she spends time with her hubs, 2 pups (Coco and Chase), drinking wine, and being grateful.