Michelle Duggar has 19 kids, but that's not the only hard thing she's had to go through (though, her kids are extremely rewarding!).
She also battled bulimia as a teen.
The oldest daughters of the Duggar clan have written a book called Growing Up Duggar, and inside, Jana, 24, Jill, 22, Jessa (who just got engaged!), 21, all write about their mother through the disguise of a teen named 'Marie' before revealing that they're actually speaking about their mom.
"On the outside, Marie had what everyone else wanted, but on the inside, she felt sad and empty. She began to envy the girl who tried to control her weight through what turned out to be a destructive eating disorder. Not realizing how dangerous it was, Marie thought it might work for her, and soon her obsession to stay thin started controlling her life."
Honestly, this is a tale as old as time — and it sucks that this story is very similar, if not exact, to millions of young women around the world.
"The teenage struggle for self-acceptance led her into some difficult emotional times and a very destructive habit that could have destroyed her health."
We're so glad it didn't.
Here's what Michelle, 47, had to say:
"I have been open with my struggles with the kids before. We talk about how God has brought us out of different things along life's way. When the girls were writing their book, they brought this up and I thought, if my sharing it is going to help another young lady, then I want to share it."
"I found out that genetically I could put on weight easily, but with my activities, gymnastics and cheerleading, it was important for me not to. I would look around and compare myself to my friends, saying, 'oh my, she's so small,' or 'she has such skinny legs.'"
It's a great thing that she was brave enough to let this story out.
It's such a common, terrible, internal struggle that affects so many young people out there.
She continued about the habit she started at just 14 years old:
"I didn't tell any of my friends what I was going through. I was doing it sometimes on a daily basis, or sometimes I would go a week. I felt this was the answer to my problems."
That's when she met Jim Bob when she was 16, and revealed her secret to him:
"The freedom came when I talked about it. I met Jim Bob and he and I were in a dating relationship and I loved this guy and wanted to marry him. We were talking future together and I remember that I felt like I had to tell him everything, everything about myself. You can't keep secrets from the man you want to share your life with. I shared this struggle with him and he said he would help me and help keep me accountable.
"Every time I was struggling, I would tell him. It was a hard time for me. But it was at that point in our relationship, it built a solid foundation for us. There are tough things in life you walk through together. I began to tell him, 'I have to have strong accountability for this.' I was set free.
"I would call him. He told me to call him anytime. I just know that I would be tempted and I would have the crazy thought that I wanted to throw up, not hold onto the calories. Thank God it didn't go on longer than it did or I could have done horrible damage to my body. That solid accountability with another human being, a deep love and strong focus, was where I found freedom.bI was willing to be accountable before God and man. But the struggle was still there. That accountability was powerful."
Michelle's story ends happily, her battle won. It isn't that way for many people out there — but we hope she can inspire at least one person out there to find the help that they need.
Be it professional or otherwise (a loved one, religion, family)!
Your health is SO important!
[Image via AP Images.]