As Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to an end, I am taking the last few hours of this day to think about how my life has changed ever since I entered recovery.
At age 17, I started dieting to lose weight. When the weight refused to come off I went to more extreme and unstable methods to drop the pounds. I would skip meals, cut out for groups, count calories and run for hours on end. I was scared to eat out, refused to eat sweets and choose salads for meals, only to return home later and binge.
At 20, I began purging and I started getting depressed. I did my best to maintain my grades – which I did – but I was slowly drowning. I’d wake promising myself I wouldn’t binge, but I’d fail. I hated the way my body looked and refused to dress in anything other than black. I hated taking pictures. I wanted to lose weight. I was scared of food.
At 21, I became suicidal. I knew I needed help, but I was afraid of telling my mother. At 21, you’re supposed to be young and free, living your life with adventures and milkshakes, laughing at your mistakes and falling in love and traveling with friends. You’re not supposed to be suicidal at 21.
At 22, I started going for therapy, saw a dietician and trying to turn my life around. My psychologist stayed with me for 1 year to help me work on my issues but unfortunately, my eating did not get any better.
At 23, I doubled up my efforts in recovering. I was going through heartbreak and in an effort to reinvent myself, I focused on becoming a better person. Instead of focusing on eating, I focused on mindfulness and discovered the meaning & importance of self-love.
Every since then my eating has slowly improved. I immersed myself in the eating disorder recovery and body positive community for support and am slowly emerging from my self-created prison. I’m learning to reject the standards of beauty society has, surrounding myself with people who encourage and support me throughout my journey & working on embracing my body for what it is. I’m learning to define myself in more than just physical looks. I’m slowly finding my confidence, becoming the woman I want to be, becoming more experimental with my clothing and style to express myself because my low self-esteem and self-hatred prevented me from embracing my identity.
I’ve been recovering for 3 years now, and I am still recovering. I don’t know whether I will fully recover in the future and I’m scared to think that one day I will relapse, but I tell myself that no matter how hard it is I will keep going. I will try to embrace every bit of my body and imperfections because I do not ever wish to return to the girl I was 5 years ago. I’ve tasted freedom and I want it. Sure there are days when I choose to eat less because I felt bloated and disgusting, and yes there are days when I hate my body and want to curl under my blankets, and yes I have moments when I compare myself to other girls wishing I had her body and okay there are times when I choose to exercise because I wanted to lose weight to be skinnier. But that’s ok because no one said recovery was going to be easy.
I’m not perfect and all that matters at the end of the day is that I choose recovery over quitting.
I’m not fully recovered, but everyday I do my best to be the best version I can be and do my best to stick to the habits that promote recovery instead of those that support my disorder because I am worth, and deserve to live a life free from an eating disorder. I am not meant to be dieting and starving and crying. Life is not meant try fitting into a small size, gain approval and validation from others, & comparing yourself to other people wishing you were taller, skinnier, leaner and/or prettier.
I don’t want to be spending the rest of my life worrying about whether or not I ate too much, whether I’m skinny enough and pretty enough, how much exercise I should do to burn off all those calories. Instead I am meant to spread my wings and fly to live my life, gain experiences, make the mistakes I’m supposed to make in my 20s so I can look back and laugh til I cry, go on whirlwind adventures, fall in love, dance to my heart’s content, wear my favorite outfits without shame or embarrassment, watch sunsets, dance in the rain (yes I love doing that), watch cupcake tutorials without feeling guilt and eat exotic food.
I am not meant to be defined by my weight, my size or my physical appearance. I am more than that. Ever since embarking on recovery I have started defining myself by my strength, my loyalty, my determination, my sass, my passion and the love in my heart.
To all those out there on the path of recovery – you are worth recovery. You deserve to live a fulfilled life and you deserve happiness. It will be challenging, it will be difficult, it will be effortful and it will be painful, but you will find strength from your struggles and you will realize that the person that emerges from the ashes is one who is awesome and who is powerful, and you will begin to wonder why you haven’t met him/her sooner, and you will want to continue seeing how much this person will grow and see who this person will finally become.
Choose recovery. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance. Choose self-love. Choose life.