Its been crazy with projects and papers and tests. Finals week is in two weeks and all the stress is happening. I probably won’t be posting much until after that. Today I decided to write one because its Eating Recovery Day! This is put on/sponsored by Eating Recovery Center. I would definitely recommend going to their facebook page and watching the live stream videos. Candace Cameron and two recovered patients who went to ERC speak on their recoveries, as well as professionals and Jenni Schaefer. I really enjoyed it.
There is a world of difference between these photos. On the left I was in Ludington, my favorite place in the entire world. My family and I were on vacation yet I was too wrapped up in my eating disorder to even enjoy it. I restricted and avoided even my favorite restaurants/meals. I constantly thought of ways to exercise more. I only put my swimsuit on to go tubing and always covered up with shorts and a life vest. I didn’t enjoy much of anything and I was miserable. I don’t even remember much of that vacation. That photo goes beyond just my time during that week. It was my life for years, minus the small bouts of quasi-recovery. Constant fatigue, looking half-dead, putting every ounce of energy into my eating disorder, grey skin, wishing I were dead, body checking and weighing myself, losing interest in everything I love, losing relationships, avoiding foods I once loved, feeling weak, isolation, anxiety, thinning hair, and passing out are only a portion of what I’ve experienced in my eating disorder. I could smile and put on a fake front as much as I wanted to, as seen in this photo, but it never completely hid the illness that was destroying me from the inside out.
The right photo was taken just a few days ago. Mentally, physically, emotionally I am in a place very far from where I have ever been. I cannot remember a time where I’ve felt more alive and hopeful for the future. Recover has helped me gain weight, yes, but also a life worth living. I look healthy. My eyes are bright, my hair is growing back again, my skin has color, my eyes are less sunken (minus the permanent bags under them because I get no sleep), and my smile is REAL. Food and exercise and calories no longer take up my thoughts. I am able to eat alone in the dining hall, follow my meal plan, keep from overexercising, have my once feared foods, let my body grow stronger, enjoy spontaneous pizza or dessert from friends, honor my hunger, exercise in a healthy way, hold conversations, laugh and mean it, concentrate better in class, and put more energy into everything in my life. I am beginning to love myself and my body FINALLY.
Recovery is really, really hard. Although I’ve had a multitude of excuses and fears about entering into it, none of them really came true. I didn’t give up my purpose in life, I’ve only gained new ones. Instead of losing strength by not exercising anywhere near as much I am rebuilding the damage I’ve caused. My body image is slowly getting better than it was when I was deep in my sickness. The weight gain that was one of the main issues I had with recovery doesn’t bother me most days. I no longer have my once coveted “anorexic girl” title but not being defined by this disorder is freeing. All of the setbacks, relapses, tears, and moments where I wanted to give up are worth it. Recovery is more than I ever imagined for myself.
If you are struggling, take my story as proof that things can and will get better. My true self is still evolving and I know I’m going to love who I become. I am so much more than anorexia. The only way to get to a better place is to put your all into this. Invest in yourself, for yourself. Extrinsic motivation is absolutely fine to start recovery, but I’ve found to make it work you have to do it for you. Within the past few weeks I’ve realized this and it has been a huge turning point. Wherever you are and whatever your feelings or fears towards recovery, make those steps. As my friend says, you can always go back to the eating disorder, so why not at least try recovery? I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Writing this all makes me tear up and remember how thankful I am for my recovery. I am so blessed and proud of myself and my progress.