NEDA Week 2016

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Choose recovery. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance. Choose self-love. Choose life. 

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wise words to think about when you have a major slip in recovery

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2 days I went through something that triggered a range of thought patterns and behaviors that were most prominent on the height of my eating disorder 3 years ago when I was 21. Usually when I experience a trigger, I slip and I take 2 or 3 steps back in my recovery, but then I’m able to bounce back from it within the hour. This particular trigger however, was much more severe. I didn’t take any steps back. Rather, I fell into a bloody pithole and I’ve been struggling to get out of it ever since.

Sharks are pulling at me. My arms are flailing madly. My mind is overwhelmed.

I was criticizing my body. I was in distress. I was thinking that I needed to lose weight by the weekend. I started thinking of restricting and going on diets, wanting to exercise a lot more, and even contemplated taking diuretics. I was almost tempted to do so yesterday; I was staring at the bottle that’s being kept in the kitchen, playing with it. fiddling it and reading the pamphlet over and over again. After about 5 minutes I abandoned it and went back to my room to continue packing. What’s scarier was that I never took diuretics and/or laxatives during when I was severely struggling. Never. In the past I never dared take diuretics and or laxatives yet now here I was, just suddenly picking it up and wanting to consume them. I had wanted to get skinny so much yesterday that I went to a new extreme of wanting to consume diuretics / laxatives after my meals. This was a new behavior. Very new. I myself was so surprised at how easily the thought of taking it came to my mind.

What had happened to me? Why am I becoming like this? This isn’t me. I don’t know this person. 

I lay in bed at night with my heart racing. I was panicking and thinking of how fat I was. My body felt incredibly big and I didn’t like it. On the one hand, I was attempting to reason the ED voice, but the other, Snix told me to just screw it and do whatever I wanted to get skinny.

I went from practicing mindful eating and learning to love myself to suddenly wanting to starve and restrict, wanting to take laxatives, fearing feeling full and exercising as much as I can to get skinnier.

Something had seriously gone wrong.

I tried changing my thoughts and reading self-affirmations online. It didn’t work.

But so so so thankfully, my bestie said something this afternoon that struck a chord in me, and I want to share some of her words with all of you:

‘What do you think you’ll achieve if you indeed become as skinny as you wanted to be? What is this thing that’s so important to you? You are everything great too, dear. You’ve got a family, a healthy body, a great exercise regime, freedom to eat whatever you want and go dancing whenever you want, so many coo ass friends to chat with, a spiffy blog, a sense of humor etc etc. Why, I don’t understand, out of all these things, being skinny is important to you? Is there something else that’s really the problem?  Do you want other people to smile at you, hiding their fangs, telling you you’re sooooooooo skinny, sooooooo pretty, soooooooo enviable? Because I don’t think you do. I think you’re happy with what you have, but the Devils are telling you you need more when you really don’t. “

If you’re struggling right now, ponder over these words.

What is this thing that is so important to you?