Glimpse Into Anorexia

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining a healthy body weight for height, age, and stature; and in many individuals distorted body image”

The definition does not come adequately close to showing the pure hell the disease can wreak on an individual or their family.

20180312_215730People develop anorexia for a variety of reasons.  One of the disturbing aspects across the board is the distorted body image. I witnessed this in my mom

At the end, anorexia won in my mom’s case. She developed terminal stomach cancer. Nothing could be done. She battled this hateful disease that can affect anyone almost her entire life. When she was a young child, my grandma had my mom put on diet pills. Between the effects from that experience and horrific abuse during childhood, anorexia was a demon she could not shake.

The National Eating Disorders Association have listed some of the signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Some of the signs are a preoccupation with counting calories, excessive exercise, and layering clothing just to name a few. My mom definitely had the counting calories part down. I vividly remember her telling me how many calories and fat grams were in oatmeal. My mom was famous for her walking and working like a horse. She worked harder on manual labor around the house than anyone I knew. I think she could have a degree in layering clothing and still look presentable.

I hope a day come where body image distortion is no longer a thing. I also hope people of both sexes and different backgrounds can happily accept themselves as they are.

–Sarah Cobble



Sorry it has been a while.  Mother’s day was difficult to get thru. I know there will be days like that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it any easier.

I made some calls last week.  My mom wanted her ashes to be spread around some flowers.  It turns out there are some legalities to that.  I thought at one point of putting her ashes around my younger sister who died in childbirth.  Unfortunately, that requires them opening up my sister’s grave to put the ashes there.  I can not scatter them.  It also costs over one grand.  I know my mom would be furious at the thought of my sister’s resting place being disturbed.

There is a park here in town I used to love to walk at.  Has beautiful landscaping and flowers.  I called them and even though technically it’s not supposed to happen, they allow it as long as we aren’t disturbing other park attendees.  Now I just need to coordinate with a few people who wanted to be there and watch the weather as best as I can.

I still needed something to feel close to my mom.  So I found a necklace that I can put a few of her ashes in.  Yes, I know I can go to the park but, it’s not the same as seeing her name on a stone.  I went to this website and found the perfect one.  Unless, I told someone, no one would guess what I would be wearing.  I have collected angels in the past.  An angel pendant is very fitting.  After all, mom is and always was, an angel.

–Sarah Cobble

Pendant to keep my mom close to my heart

Phone Call to Heaven

Today I got the call my wedding dress is in.  Since I am a big girl it had to be made.  As excited as I am the dress is in.  I am thinking of my mom

I wish I could call my mom and excitedly tell her my dress is in.  I can just imagine her excitement.  Unfortunately I can’t.  My mom isn’t here anymore for me to call her just to hear her voice.

I know she would be happy.  This is one of many moments I will not be able to share directly with her.  At least I know I have an angel in heaven watching over me.

–Sarah Cobbleangel-fig-face-christmas-39014.jpeg

Mom’s Ashes

My mom did not die in her home town.  A few years before she got sick my mom moved to a small town a little over two hours away.  Luckily, she wanted to be cremated.  I thought that was fitting considering how much of a prison her body had been for her.  My mom had asked that I scatter her ashes around some plants, flower, or in a park during a nice spring day.

The problem was getting her ashes.  I refused to make the drive knowing I would be a blubbering mess knowing her remains were in the care with me.  That does not bode well for a long distance drive.  At the time, my fiancé was not able to get off of work.  No one was able to help me.

I had the option of having her ashes mailed to me.  This was a perfect solution for me.  Except that it wasn’t.  I really felt alone after my mom died.  Not even six months prior to that we lost my aunt rather unexpectedly.  The loss of them both tore my family apart.  Certain people seemed to check on others.  I was left in the dark and alone.  My fiancé was wonderful.  I just didn’t understand why my family abandoned me.  Yes, I am an adult.  We all are.  Apparently I just didn’t matter.

It took me a long time to give the written permission for my mom’s ashes to be mailed to me.  I was terrified they would arrive on a day when I had to work that night.  At the time, I worked nights as a nurse.  I just couldn’t deal with that.  So, I waited.  Eventually, I resigned the position knowing I needed a change and not knowing what that change was yet.  I have no regrets there.  Still I did not send for her ashes.

One of my mom’s friends checked with the funeral home about it and the truth was out.  They still had her ashes.  I explained to her I know my mom deserved better but I was having a hard time dealing.  I felt like I had lost almost all of my family and her at the same time.  I finally sent for the ashes.

One day, our doorbell rang.  My fiancé always answers the door.  He is kind of protective.  When I saw the box, I immediately knew what it was.  I backed away and had a small inner panic attack.  I told him what they were and I couldn’t deal with it yet.  I just couldn’t.  For the time being, I placed them in what is my office/art studio.

One day I finally got up the courage to open the box.  Something just told me it was time.  I was afraid of what the inside was going to look like.  I remembered how my dad’s looked and knowing how tiny my mom was…. well it scared me.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  She was in a black box with her name on a gold plate.  She would have hated the gold plate part.  As silly as it sounds, I hugged the box and told mom how much I miss her.

One day, if spring ever does come, I will spread her ashes as she asked me.  Yes I am a couple of years late but heck I was overdue when I was born.  Either way I will still honor my mom.

–Sarah Cobblepexels-photo-208315.jpeg

Wedding Without Mom

This is my second time getting married.  I will be a bride again later this year.  The first marriage ended badly.  Truth be told it was a mistake.  There were no children.

The best part leading up to the first wedding was planning it with my mom.  This is kind of odd considering my mom is not a shopper or the girly type.  She did not have a huge collection of shoes and probably only had one purse.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  My mom enjoyed the experience of planning a simple wedding.  She was there when I went dress shopping.  My mom helped me get and plan a lot.  By wedding standards, it was not elaborate or expensive.  I am not the type.  The bonding and the time we had together was priceless.

I wish with all my heart I had her with me while I plan my second wedding.  This time, I am getting married to the man of my dreams.  He truly is everything I have ever wanted and more.  We have so much fun enjoying the simple things in life together.

This time when I looked at dresses, I was alone.  Everyone that was supposed to come were unable to make it.  They all had valid reasons.  Unfortunately it let me to missing my mom that much more.  She would be happy there isn’t going to be a bridal shower.  Truthfully, I do not need one.   She just did not like all of that attention and getting dressed up much.

I wish I could share with my mom how truly happy I am this time.  I know she would love my fiancé.  I didn’t realize how much harder it would be without her.  I tried to talk myself into being tough.  At times I can fake it.  Other times, I just really miss her.

–Sarah Cobble20180312_220256

Subtle Violation

It’s amazing how hindsight can be 20/20.  With all of the things that I have learned about my mama before and after her death, I understand why she did some of the things she did.

One of the things that always bothered me was how she could stick up for people who had done me wrong.  This bothered me more than words can say.  I felt like as her daughter she should be sticking up for me when I was wronged.

Trigger warning.  The following could be upsetting to some.  I needed to get this truth out. please be warned.

One such incident was when she was asking why I wasn’t visiting a certain family member anymore.  Let me be clear on one thing, none of the inappropriate behavior occurred while I was a child.  I was a fully grown woman.

At first I thought it was just my imagination.  That is how subtle this was.  However, I learned to trust my instincts and realized I was right.  I never spoke up about the sly touching around the bust area.  It was never around others and so subtle normally I thought it was my imagination.  After all, even when I was thin, I was very blessed in that area.  Then one time when his wife was dying, he hugged me and literally palmed the side of my left breast.  I knew then it was intentional and it felt so dirty.  We weren’t family by blood but, we were still family.

I never said anything while my aunt was alive.  They were both so beloved I did not think anyone would believe me.  Also, I did not want to do anything to hurt my beloved aunt.  I do not think she knew what had been going on.  I could not bear to see her hurt.  Later when I was talking to one of my cousins, I found out I was not the only one.  Multiple family members in fact had an encounter with him.  I was floored.  My one cousin told me, “why do you think I only give him side hugs”.

So, when my mom asked me while she was still living in town I told her the truth.  I asked her not to say anything and that I would tell her the real reason I was avoiding him.  To my dismay, my mom defended him.  She reminded me that I had married an older man (a big mistake that choice was) and that my uncle probably thought it was okay.  Besides, he had come from country folk in the hills and probably thought the behavior was okay.  I was floored.  I told my mom it made me uncomfortable and I would not be visiting anytime soon.

Years later, when I discovered my mom had been sexually abused by a close family member for years, I realized why she had the reaction she did.  It wasn’t that she did not care about me or my feelings.  No one had really protected my mama.  I obviously wasn’t there but, maybe excuses were made to her.  Maybe my mama was relieved and making excuses because I wasn’t raped and I was an adult.  Mama did not like confrontations.  Honestly, I don’t know what the reasoning was.  I do know whatever it was, she was not blaming me.  I do remember her hugging me tight and telling me she loved me.

It’s amazing what you can learn and how dysfunctional family practices can affect future generations.  I am not mad at my mom in any way.  I still will not go see my uncle.  Truth is since my mom passed he does not want anything to do with me.  His loss as far as I am concerned.

Thank you for listening to this exert.  Please don’t be angry with my mom.  I know how much she loved me and was proud of me.  I am grateful I have the clarity now to understand.

–Sarah Cobblealone-beautiful-boardwalk-247314

Momma dying

One of the hardest things when my mom was dying was not being able to be with her.  She was only two hours away but, I had no means of staying in a hotel and she was not in a private room at the nursing home.  To take the stress off of me, my mom emptied her house prior to her going to the nursing home.  I actually remember her consulting me on what she was giving to who and I told her over and over, momma its up to you.  She felt as if I had a say as her child.  To me, so many people had told her what to do her whole life, I had promised her I would honor her wishes.

My mom had refused to take pain meds.  As a nurse, you can tell when people are really in pain or not.  Some patients claim their pain is at a ten but they have no problem eating and checking Facebook.  That is not a ten.  My momma was so tiny and literally skin and bones that multiple pillows were required to make her comfortable.  The nurses could tell by her reaction and vitals she was in pain.  Normally my mom was lucky to have her top number be 80.  One time when I was told her BP was normal 120/80, I politely explained to the nurse that for my mom that is hypertension.  Mom denied the pain consistently.

The last time I saw my mom was a couple of days before she died.  I have never seen anyone so tiny in my life.  My guess is she was maybe 50 lbs.  I actually cried that time.  I couldn’t help it.  She no longer had the strength to pick up a cup and take a drink so I helped her.  She even told me its ironic, I spent my whole life avoiding food, now when I crave mashed potatoes i can’t even swallow it down.  Her stomach was so swollen from the tube feed, she actually looked pregnant.

For months we had been trying to bring momma to a nursing home back home.  I did not have the room where I was to properly take care of her.  Otherwise I would have in an instant.  The problem with this is hospice here locally would not take her without being able to evaluate her in someone’s home or at a nursing home.  Most available beds in a nursing home are saved for patients needing therapy.  My mom did not qualify for one of those beds.  The last time I saw my mom she told me, Sarah, I don’t think I can survive the trip back home.  Is it okay if I stay here.  I knew she was right.  I said of course mom.  Your safety and comfort is what is most important.

The doctor was trying to get my mom to discontinue the tube feed and take pain meds.  I was able to get a call connected to her and I cried begging my mom to turn off the tube feed and take the pain meds.  I said mom you have suffered enough.  Ironically, she told me she was afraid people would think she was starving herself to death.  Yeah the irony was not lost on me.  I told mom not to worry, I had her back.  Like I said I had no place to stay and physically I could not make the drive.  My legs were killing me with the fibromyalgia and I did not have an available ride.  My boyfriend (now my fiancé) had to work.  No one else was able to help.  So I called my mom a few times.  The last time I talked to her she was barely able to speak..  I said good night momma, I love you.  Her words were not fully formed, but I know I heard her say I love you too.  The hospice nurse was gracious enough to let me know.  The next morning, five minutes after my boyfriend had left for work, I got the call saying she had passed away.

One of the hardest parts was not being able to be there.  I was there when my daddy died.  I wanted to give my momma the same gift and I couldn’t.  This was not a choice.  I truly could not safely make the trip alone.  That weighs on me to this day.  Sure I have had critics, but they don’t have to live my life.  My fiancé has been my rock thru it all.

My mom’s death certificate reads as the cause of death being respiratory depression related to stomach cancer related to anorexia.  I know my mom is at peace now.  Per her request she was cremated which I found rather fitting.  Her body was a prison almost her entire life.  Now with her angel wings, she was finally free.

–Sarah Cobble


Beautiful Tragedy

Sometimes it is hard to find a good way to honor my mom.  The only thing that scared her more than gaining weight, was finding out she had cancer.  Truthfully as strong as my mom was, I do not believe she would have truly beat the anorexia.  Not because she was not strong enough.  To me it is astounding that she was as “normal” as she was in life.  My mom was not only a contributing member of society but she also volunteered and genuinely was a good person.  I truly am proud of that.  However, in order for her to truly conquer the anorexia she had to deal with the pure hell she went thru.  This is especially true when those that were supposed to protect her failed miserably.  My mom endured all three levels of abuse.  All three, let that sink in.

My mom wanted to help others not follow down the rabbit hole that an eating disorder entails.  The way anorexia robs you of life and experiences can not go understated.  The food is used as a tool to have control when life spins out of control.  To my mom, that was the only control she had.  I spent months trying to figure out a way.  I thought of talking to other people who suffer have eating disorders.  I quickly dismissed that.  In my mind, if it were that easy, my mom would have been saved.

So I began this blog.  Left it alone for a long time.  Then I came back.  I realized I wanted to tell my mom’s struggle and also show the world how wonderful she was.  My mom was a beautiful tragedy.  Telling her whole story is how I plan to honor her.  I love and miss her deeply.

–Sarah Cobble

Anorexia and my mom

What can I say that hasn’t been said and still make it relevant.  Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t but, I am going to talk about my mom’s anorexia.

While she and I did not share the same experiences and her battles began long before I was ever born, I was in the front lines witnessing what she was doing most of the time.  She admitted to me when she was sick her battles with anorexia began when she was in elementary school.  She had been horrifically abused by multiple people.  Her own mom put her on diet pills and she wasn’t even fat.  When she died she had just missed her 65th birthday.  Now, I am not saying she did not have good years.  Unfortunately her demons stayed with her throughout her life.  At times more controlled than others but, the demons were there.

My mom was very smart.  She excelled in nursing school.  However that inclination to have to be perfect was her downfall.  Her struggles were not reflected in her grades.  My mom kept her room-mate up at night by wearing one of the suits that make you sweat and exercising all night long.  It got to the point where my mom’s room mate needed to say something for her own sanity.  My mom was asked to leave the nursing school at that time.  Truthfully she was so small and sickly looking, she looked worse than the patients the student nurses took care during clinical.  The nursing school said mom was welcomed to come back when her health returned.  My grandma in the meantime took care of her at home giving her these high calorie shakes.  I have no idea if any other outside intervention took place.  Either way when my mom was doing better, she chose not to.  As a result, my mom started working at Ohio Bell where she later met my dad.

Even if mom was doing well weight wise, mentally things weighed on her.  When she married my dad, the ceremony was simple and no pictures were taken.  My mom would not allow them.  She absolutely hated her picture being taken.  So much so that I was given instruction years later when she was dying not to include a picture in her obituary or I would be haunted and not in a good way.

I was born three years after my parents married.  She was thrilled to have me but, unfortunately the parenting skills she learned from my grandma were not the best.  I am not saying she did not love me.  She loved me immensely.  I understand why things happened and I respect and love my mom.  Yes, some things happened that should not have happened.  However, my mom was so much more than that and I focus on the beauty of her.  My mom gave me so many wonderful things and many of them are not material which is even better.

When I was about two years old or so, my mom was pregnant with her second child.  I have no memory of this.  Partly because I was so young and partly because I was battling some medical issues of my own.  My mom struggled with gaining weight during her second pregnancy.  When my mom was considered at term, she was told by her doctor her baby was not going to make it.  My younger sister had spinal bifida so bad she only had half a brain.  The medical staff induced my mom and she had to endure the entire labor process.  That had to have been hell.  On the one hand you know what the doctor said, on the other hand you are praying God steps in with a miracle.  From what I was told, my sister took two breaths and died.  My mom did not get her miracle.  During that same hospital stay, my mom had her tubes tied.

Throughout the years I remember glimpses of some of my mom’s unhealthy habits.  She definitely cleaned more than what was necessary.  She abused laxatives and water pills.  I remember she always had ex lax on hand.  I was later told by my aunt I got caught hoarding food under my bed.  I honestly don’t know why and I have no memory of this.  At the time, I was not battling a weight problem.  Maybe as a child I could sense my mom’s battles.  I really do not know.  At one point mom would change some of our eating habits.  We would have mock beef casseroles.  In other words turkey.

Then my grandpa got sick with lung cancer.  By the time they caught the cancer, it was pretty advanced.  He still underwent treatment, but he lost his battle and passed away when I was in 8th grade.  Then when my grandma came to live with us.  I am sure the stress of it all did not help.  My mom’s anorexia reared its head.  I remember one time saying to my dad, I think mom had a problem.  He tried to tell me he had a handle on it.  I knew he was full of it but, I wasn’t about to tell him that.  At some point my mom was hospitalized for dehydration.  She was basically told she had to go to rehab.

I am not sure how many times mom was in therapy or rehab.  I know she was not a fan of any of it and had a strong distrust later in life.  Eventually my parents divorced.  It was not good for her.  There no longer was someone to have her back whether she liked it or not.  I could only do so much.  I was only allowed to do so much.

When my mom left Toledo in hopes that another town would give her a fresh start, she was maybe 110 pounds.  She moved about two to two and half hours away.  She loved the little town.  Sometimes she would visit.  Even though she complained, she did not always like getting visits.  One time when she was in town staying with me and sleeping on my love seat, the love seat seemed to dwarf her tiny body.  My mom was getting so small, I was almost afraid to hug her.  She would keep us from visiting her I later learned after my mom had an accident or had a fall.  My mom kept a lot from us.

When the doctors came in to tell her how extensive her cancer was, they were surprised the stomach cancer hadn’t been caught sooner.  The doctors asked her if she had any pain over the past year.  She replied “of course, I just ignored it”.  That’s how my mom was.  I knew something was wrong one day when I was talking to her on the phone.  She always complained about being too full to eat.  This time she complained of difficulty swallowing.  That was new.  I told my mom to call the doctor and let them know right away.  I couldn’t drive down there since I had just finished a 12 hour shift and never would have made it safely.  Mom contacted the doctors and the testing schedule began. By the time she had her operation, the cancer took over her entire stomach and the abdominal wall.  My mom was dying.

Ironically when I was begging my mom to turn off the tube feed months later since it wasn’t doing her any good.  Hardly any of it was able to get past her stomach and nourish her body, she told me, “I am afraid people will think I am starving myself to death”.  Yea, the irony was not lost on me either.  Mom finally agreed to stopping the tube feed and taking something for the pain.  She passed away the next morning.  As much as I miss her, I am happy she is finally free of her demons.  My mom as a beautiful tragedy.  She was truly and angel.

–Sarah Cobble