If only…

I wasn’t born anxious. My cousin never lived with us. I loved myself. No one teased me growing up. My aunt didn’t constantly call me “skinny minnie.” I never self-harmed. I didn’t have pectus excavatum or the Nuss procedure to correct it. The media was less focused on the thin ideal. I started therapy years earlier. Someone noticed that there was something very, very wrong. My depression didn’t exist. I had more self-confidence and higher self-esteem. My family didn’t have a history of mental illness. I never had GI issues and lost weight because of it. No one told me that my chest was weird or that I have the body of a gymnast. My family was different. I had more support. I didn’t push myself so hard in everything. I leaned more on my faith. I never dated my ex. I opened up more.  I lived in a different school district. I had more friends. I cared a little more about my own well-being. I had better body image. I wasn’t a major perfectionist. I never signed up for early college. I reached out to someone, anyone.

These things didn’t happen, because then, maybe I wouldn’t have developed an eating disorder.

For a long time, I wanted an answer, a cause. I longed to have this “aha” moment in therapy so I could finally make some sense out of it.

I’ve realized that eating disorders don’t have just one cause. My anorexia makes sense. Because I didn’t love myself, I had no problem harming myself. Perfectionism fed into the need to count every single calorie. I had no healthy coping skills, so using ED behaviors instead was much easier than dealing with emotions and stressors.

When my brain had all of these things coming at it, the response was to turn to food, exercise, restriction, and numbers. Someone else in the same situation may have gone down the path of addiction, or maybe they would have come through just fine.

I’ve often asked why – why did this have to happen to me? Why couldn’t I be strong enough to deal with everything? Why can’t I just be normal? Why can’t I get over this? Why am I so messed up?

I no longer ask these questions, and part of this is because I’ve begun to accept my eating disorder. It happened. I struggle. I can grow through it. There is nothing I could have done differently. It’s okay that I didn’t take more positive steps. I am not a failure because I got sick. This doesn’t need to be the most important, defining aspect of who I am. I will win. I am strong enough to do it.

NEDA Week 2018 – my anorexia struggle (it’s not what you think)

I really love the theme Let’s Get Real because it opens up the opportunity for each individual story to be shared. Every person who struggles with an eating disorder is unique, yet we can also relate to one another. My story, along with everyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder, is important and needs to be told. Today I’ll be doing it in a little bit different way by sharing some stereotypes about anorexia that I don’t fit into.

I have anorexia, but…

  • I’m not underweight, emaciated, or anywhere close to it. In the 5+ years I’ve had this illness, I was only underweight for around 8-10 months. I came into treatment for the first time with a lower BMI, however; since then I’ve been in the normal range. I went to residential twice without even losing a substantial amount of weight because the outside representation doesn’t matter as much as how you’re struggling on the inside.
  • I don’t feel overly affected by the media. Do I think that what we see in the media influences self-esteem, diet culture, judgment of bodies, etc? Absolutely. Has it played a huge part in my life? No. I do compare myself to people in advertisements, but that happens as I’m walking around campus or the grocery store too. I know enough about how manipulated these photos can be that I basically just take them as false and made up.
  • You cannot tell just by looking at me. I don’t have the “typical anorexic body.” I don’t think anyone would be able to tell I have an eating disorder by analyzing my appearance. I may be thinner as behaviors increased, but I am nowhere near the image most think of when they picture anorexia. I am not alone in this. A huge number of those with anorexia and eating disorders in general don’t look like they have an eating disorder.
  • I have never used laxatives, diet pills, etc. I know many people who have turned to these measures in order to lose weight. It’s just an area where the eating disorder hasn’t fixated on. I definitely have felt that pressure, though.
  • I haven’t needed (or come close to needing) a feeding tube. There are some who wear their feeding tube as some special badge you’ll only receive if you’re a “very good anorexic/bulimic.” I’ve seen countless people and treatment friends who use this as profiles or brag about it. There have definitely been times that I felt like a fraud because I hadn’t been sick enough to receive one. I can see now that being malnourished enough to need artificial feedings isn’t something to be proud of, and I am more than 100% okay with not having one.
  • I’m not on the brink of death. More than any other eating disorder, I see a ton of images and stereotyping that someone with anorexia has to in a danger zone. In reality, complete organ failure and other fatal conditions don’t actually show up until a very critical point. Most people, like myself, are relatively medically stable.
  • I do not enjoy being this way. Eating disorders are often glamorized. I have been told that I must have great discipline in order to lose weight the way I did. In reality, anorexia has taken over my life and made me feel empty. When I’m deep in the ED I become a shell of myself. I would never wish this on anyone or encourage them to treat their body this way. It is absolutely miserable, expect for the brief moments where ED praises me for how “well” I’m doing. Anorexia is not just a way to effectively lose weight and bask in your shrinking body. It is a slow and painful suicide.

Fall 2013 v 2014 v 2015 v 2016

*I am considering fall September – early December because this is the first trimester/semester of school*

Fall 2013

  • Senior year of high school, 1/2 time HS classes and 1/2 college classes at the local community college = stress
  • Self harm:
    • doing my best to completely end the addiction after struggling for 6+ years of bruising/hitting and ~1 year of cutting
    • being therapy for the first time because my parents noticed and were angry once they realized I was cutting
    • entered complete recovery on December 3rd and haven’t slipped up majorly since then
  • Depression:
    • worse than I’ve ever experienced before
    • lots of isolation, low self-esteem, internalizing feelings despite therapy
  • Anxiety:
    • extremely high with balancing high school + college classes
    • occasionally suffered from panic attacks (a new symptom I’d never dealt with before)
    • same constant worries I’ve had since I was born. okay probably not but as long as I can remember so basically
  • Therapy:
    • was meh at best
    • went every week and every other sometimes
    • at least I liked her a lot
    • no help at all with the ED
    • literally zero
    • did help some with the rest = good
    • not challenging/hard on me (which I later learned I need)
  •  Perfectionism:
    • HOLY COW
    • I cried and flipped out every time I received anything less than a 90% on basically every assignment
    • A&P was difficult to achieve that level of excellence because all of the body parts and just being a difficult “weeder class”
    • therapy did nothing really
    • everything needs to be perfect->constant feelings of imperfection->depression/anxiety/shame/guilt/self-hatred->taking this out on my body through self-harm and then ED behaviors
  • Eating disorder:
    • behaviors and thoughts multiplied like CRAZY
    • restricting increasing steadily
    • ran on the treadmill everyday and pushed past my limits each time
    • began hiding food, lying to my parents, and skipping meals/snacks
    • I had lunch on the way back from the career tech center or in class
    • lunch this way meant throwing away ~80 percent of grains/meat, eating fruits and vegetables, eating very slowly
    • lying about how I ate said lunch
    • weight loss to a point of hovering between underweight and at the bottom of “normal” BMI (aka bullshit meaningless information not that I viewed it this way at the time)
    • weighed myself at least 3 times a day (morning, after school, before bed) and of course hid this from my parents
    • kinda pertaining, during a urine sample testing at CTC my ketones were +2 which worried my teacher
  • Overall status
    • poopy
    • very entrenched in mental health issues
    • feeling out of control with all of it
    • going down, down, down
  • Other:
    • started on my very first psych med, courtesy of my extremely judgy pediatrician
    • turned 18 yay real adult
    • literally no friends in person except acquaintances in class
    • found the most wonderful online friends ever ❤
    • began to prepare for competing in HOSA for medical math

Fall 2014

  • “13th year” of early college aka finishing up my associate’s degree as a full-time college student
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • celebrated one year free
  • Depression:
    • blech, probably around the same
    • a constant thing, usually just connected to anxiety, perfectionism, and anorexia in one lovely ball of fun
  • Anxiety:
    • pretty darn high with yet another semester of rather difficult classes
    • again, wrapped in the joy with depression, perfectionism, and anorexia
    • revolved also around losing everyone around me
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • new therapist love <333333
    • seriously never imagined therapy being so helpful
    • she actually dealt and specialized in eating disorders
    • came straight out of a month and a half of PHP at Forest View
    • PHP terrified, stabilized, and motivated me
    • I never had felt so connected and understood in my life
    • had a meal plan I somewhat mostly followed
    • saw a dietitian all of once and then gave up with that one
    • was finally challenged in therapy and given homework
    • small amounts of tough love
    • had psych appointments monthly at first, then less frequently
  • Perfectionism:
    • again, grades were a main focus
    • needed perfection in my recovery ?
    • felt the need to do everything right because I almost was forced to quit school
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • spoke aloud “I struggle with anorexia” for the very first time at FV
    • emotional issues became an even larger trigger for ED behaviors
    • referred to anorexia as Ed and personified it
    • lovingly forced to eat challenge foods
    • parents were food police to the extreme and I HATED it
    • I was forced to eat lunch with my early college dean each day I was at college during that time
    • it was nice to have company, but she was oblivious to me using behaviors and restricting
    • eventually began eating by myself more, always facing the wall and if not I wouldn’t eat a thing
  • Overall status:
    • better than the year before, at first anyways
    • still caught up in distorted thought patterns constantly
    • going through the motions
    • a majority of my life was centered around my mental health stuff, mainly the ED
  • Other:
    • started this blog!
    • became a youth leader
    • my girls = a motivation to recover; not a strong one in the end but motivation still
    • Lily and Livvy were my long distance support people
    • was on 2 psych meds, courtesy of scary doctor VH from FV
    • simply skated through slightly below the threshold of “you need more treatment” and “you’re doing all right”
    • had support from a woman in church which I needed at the time
    • other than her basically no physical support
    • relationship with my family was pretty bad still
    • grades were much better, especially considering how I was doing overall

Fall 2015

  • first year at Calvin
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • 2 years clean
  • Depression
    • steadily grew worse each day
    • isolation also increased with that
    • psych meds weren’t fully helping
  • Anxiety:
    • grades, grades, grades
    • stressing out because I “needed” to get into the nursing program fall 2016
    • I had to act normal and make friends
    • always worrying that I would be alone forever
    • catching up after I was gone from my injury
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • spent one week in FV’s inpatient program
    • that ended only one week before school started up
    • IP was a complete bandaid
    • it worked for like a month tops
    • started seeing a new, amazing therapist at school ❤
    • sidenote: I have been blessed with two wonderful therapists since leaving FV
    • saw my first ever dietitian who was pretty good for me
    • once a week therapy and dietitian
    • all the outpatient treatment in the world couldn’t have saved me from myself
    • left school and entered residential treatment at Center for Discovery Del Mar Nov 19th and stayed through Dec 28th
  • Perfectionism:
    • perfection with eating, exercise, meal plan (following and then restricting it)
    • very rigid exercise plan
    • I went rock climbing often and had to get the route down perfectly or I failed
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • began restricting basically straight out of FV
    • had a meal plan that I at least attempted to follow
    • work-out/weight loss yoga became my go-to exercise
    • and it all came crashing down
    • restricted tons during the week and then was forced to eat whenever I came home for the weekend
    • my parents knew nothing, of course
    • I felt 100% powerless
    • obsessed with losing weight, not knowing the number but hearing which direction it was going by my dietitian
    • measured myself by size of clothes and looking in the mirror
  • Overall status:
    • just bad
    • wanted to give up on everything
    • eventually I gave up hope, interest in anything
    • flat emotions and an overall lack of caring
    • my life revolved around my eating disorder
    • most of the fall is pretty hazy because I was in a state of confusion, memory loss, lack of concentration
    • everything completely changed once I entered treatment*
  • Other:
    • fractured my orbital socket, broke my nose, and received a concussion while playing capture the flag at dorm retreat
    • this lead to surgery and 3.5 weeks at home
    • I fell behind in my classes
    • grades slipped to the lowest they have ever been: B’s and C’s
    • felt the need to tell my roommate and RA/suitemate about the ED
    • they somewhat became a food/exercise police
    • my RA seriously would knock on my door when she heard a yoga video and make me stop
    • my relationship with my family was better than before, then dropped off some when they found out I hid my struggling
    • residential was the best/hardest choice I have ever made for myself
    • the immense growth and motivation I gained firmly planted me in recovery
  • note: minus a few points, these are all my status pre-treatment*

Fall 2016

  • 2nd year at Calvin
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • 3 (!!!!) years clean this December
  • Depression:
    • worse than before for who knows why
    • MAJOR isolation
    • hopeless about ever making friends
    • feeling down for no apparent reason
    • occasional passive suicidal ideation “I don’t deserve to live anymore”, “I wish I wasn’t here”, etc
    • it interferes with everyday life – I am not interested in things, somewhat slower in movement/thoughts, flat,
  • Anxiety:
    • stressed in general
    • apathy/procrastination->stress and completing everything last minute
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • seeing my school therapist every other week :/
    • still have psych appointments, probably every month or so
    • dietitian (starting this week with a new one at school, not sure how often that will be)
    • bi-monthly support group held at FV (ohhhh the memories in that lovely room)
    • eating disorder bible study weekly
  • Perfectionism:
    • grades are becoming progressively moreso
    • less than a 90 on tests kills me a little
    • I absolutely cannot show my true emotions and struggles at church
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • I feel the need to be more disciplined in my eating than I have been in recovery
    • taking smallish steps to achieve that
    • body image suddenly improves when I restrict/eat healthier/exercise
    • goal = lose a few pounds and tone
    • ^probably a bad idea
    • fighting urges more than I have any other fall so far
    • eating 80% of my meals in my room (when I’m not home)
    • more fearful of the dining hall, or maybe just the food there?
    • when I compare my body, it’s by size and not weight (except when my psych doctor decides to tell me my BMI)
  • Overall status:
    • faith is improved and I have more hope!
    • general feeling blah about life
    • loss of interest in many of my former passions
    • I am able to focus on school and everything more than I have in years
    • it can be really hard faking happiness when I really want to be honest with others (eg at church)
    • I would say this is better than I have been in years, but by no means have I taken a 180 and suddenly been freed from all of the negative MH stuff in my life
    • on my good days I am generally just content with where I’m at
    • I’m pretty worried about the amount of support I’m getting currently
  • Other
    • attending church 2-3x a week and coming home midweek and on weekends – LOVE
    • I’ve gone out soulwinning a few times and it’ amazing to spread the gospel and invite others to church
    • currently working every weekend around 10-15 hrs
    • I tend to put off things and forget or not care anymore
    • my friends/supports are still long distance
    • making a new friend from work though! we have a ton in common and I’m excited about it
    • playing Sims again 😀
    • team no sleep, typically 5 hrs a night on weekdays
    • building up my relationship with my family
    • they are more trusting finally and not the enemy anymore
    • I have a car and with that more independence
    • driving back and forth is actually pretty nice

I definitely didn’t intend for this post to be so long, but I am inspired and surprised but how much change has come over the years. There’s been growth and setbacks, positive moments and pits of darkness, a variety in levels of ED/depression/anxiety, and more. I have gone through a lot and I honestly believe it’s pretty incredible that I am still here and in a (mostly) better space than before. My hope is that Fall 2016 will be the best one yet!

My story

*Disclaimer: This is not my entire story. Instead I wanted to talk specifically about my eating disorder journey and what its been like for me, (mostly) uncensored.My hope is that this can give insight to what an eating disorder is really like. Because this is going to have lots of details on behaviors and thoughts, there is definitely a trigger warning. I will not be going into weights/bmi/sizes/etc, however. 

The first time I ever felt badly about my body, I was around six years old. I spent the day with some neighbor kids, swimming at the beach and having a great time. We came home and our moms decided to give the girls a quick shower together to get the sand off. One of the girls spoke up, “Ew what’s wrong with your chest?” In that moment I realized I was different. I was born with a sternum deformity called pectus excavatum (PE). Of course, having nothing to compare it to, I never saw my chest as abnormal. That moment, however innocent and seemingly insignificant, was the seed that planted body hate for me.

I can’t remember a time growing up where I wasn’t considered skinny. Adults would always tell me how lucky I was and that I needed to keep the weight off as I grew older. Skinny wasn’t just a compliment to me; it was my identity. At some point I decided I absolutely wasn’t allowed to ever get to a point where people didn’t call me skinny.

There was never a time I was okay with my body. Yes, I felt better about myself when I got the skinny complements. That didn’t fix the negativity. It honestly just made it worse. I received more and more negative comments about my PE as I got older as well. Adding that and the belief that I was nothing without being skinny to an already low self-esteem didn’t work out well for me.

In 8th grade I finally decided to do something about my “disgusting/weird” chest. I went in that December for surgery where they inserted two bars to pop out my sternum into a normal position. I hoped that this would clear up any and all body image thoughts I had. It ended up doing the opposite. My PE was considered very severe. Because of how deep it was, my heart was enlarged and pushed to the side. My lungs were also shrunken. These both were a huge part of the reason I’d stayed so underweight and malnourished all those years. Once my body was in better shape I gained weight – and fast. I couldn’t deal with it. Suddenly I wasn’t skinny but average. No one gave me compliments on my size anymore. I had lost a huge part of my identity, self-worth, and slightly better view of my body in just a few months.

The next few years brought an interim period. I didn’t lose any of the weight I so desperately wished was gone. My body hate never wavered or went away, and really just grew. I hadn’t started using any behaviors yet, but the ED thoughts were there.

The timing around here gets hazy. I’m at the point now where I can’t remember when the switch from unwell thoughts to using behaviors came about. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided to become anorexic and boom I was sick.

I had so many bottled up emotions, along with the ever-present self-hatred. My eating disorder started as a way to feel better about myself. If I could just lose that weight I’d hated for years, then I would magically be happier and confident. The main factor, even more than building self-esteem, was harming myself. I felt such strong emotions: guilt, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, hatred, loneliness. By starving myself and running my body ragged I could take care of some of the discomfort I felt. 

It all began innocently. I wanted to lose the unnecessary (in my mind) weight I gained after my surgery. My first goal was just a few pounds. I figured that once I got there I would certainly feel better and just maintain after that. I was clearly wrong.

I started counting calories. I wouldn’t say I was actively restricting quite yet, but I was very hyperaware of everything I put into my mouth. My view and reason behind exercising took a 180. I played soccer from eight years old up until fall of junior year. It had always been 100% about fun. Not once did I wonder how many calories I was burning or how much I needed to work out in a day or week. I practiced and played games to the best of my ability. During my last season, however, that all changed. I began pushing myself harder than before and would also workout outside of practice and games. If I ate “badly” during the day, I work myself past the point of exhaustion that night at practice. Soccer wasn’t all that fun anymore.

In addition to the extra exercise, I mildly restricted. Within a few months those coveted few pounds were shed. I was on top of the world. I had this great sense of pride that I couldn’t get anywhere else. After so many years of hating myself, completely hating my body, and feeling hopeless about any of this ever changing, it did change. I loved it.

I continued with the mild restriction and use of exercise to lose (at this point maintain) weight. The stress of starting early college my junior year was catching up with me. I could never perform well enough to satisfy my own perfectionistic standards. This only fueled my depression, anxiety, and other negative thoughts. There was, in my mind, just one thing I could control: my weight.

I set calorie limits for myself each day. I began running on the treadmill. It was a huge relief being able to focus on anything other than my inadequacies. To me, this was the best way to cope.

My weight fluctuated and lowered a little bit more, but not a whole ton. By the summer before my senior year I actually gained some back. The stress of school was gone which helped stop some of the negative thoughts I was having. I definitely wasn’t following a very healthy eating and exercise pattern at this point, but it also wasn’t so bad. I exercised to burn calories, but only felt the compulsive need to after eating “too much” food. None of the depression, anxiety, or self-hatred lessened here. In fact, they all continued to grow. 

Fall of senior year was technically the true beginning of my eating disorder, but I don’t really like that way of viewing it. I was sick before this. I already had a distorted view of myself, disordered eating habits, tons of ED thoughts, spent hours in front of the mirror body checking, and used exercise in a compulsive way. It all just happened to get worse at that time. 

The fall was a crazy adjustment. I now had classes at a career tech center in allied health, on campus at the community college, and a few in my high school. To say I was overwhelmed and stressed is an understatement. That coupled with the fact that I had gained back nearly all of my weight since first trying to lose led to eating disorder thoughts and behaviors like I’d never had before. It wasn’t until then that my parents noticed something was wrong. I hid it very well previously and continued to shield them from the truth as it all progressed.

My new purpose in life was to take back control of my weight. I was more carefully counting calories than I had before. Not only did the amount of food I was allowed shrink, but the variety diminished as well. I exclusively ran on the treadmill as my form of exercise. I would set a calorie goal for each time I got on. This always ended up in me pushing myself much further than my body wanted me to. At the end of each run I would continue well past my goal. Every single second, every calorie mattered. This all did the trick when it came to my weight. I was now slightly under what my previous low was post-surgery. I felt good, but not great. Every single time I looked in the mirror I saw fat. I body checked often and cried as I saw my body expand throughout the day. I felt the fat growing on me every single bite of food. My body was shrinking but the body dysmorphia was not.

My parents now knew something was going on. When I was at home, they watched a little more closely. This contributed to me restricting more at school, but that was also driven by a new ED-fueled fear. I no longer was able to eat where anyone, namely strangers, was watching me. I had lunch some days in a little cyber cafe on campus. There were a total of five seats, all facing a window, that I had to sit in if I was going to eat anything. Even then, fear paralyzed me. I was bringing a very small amount of food anyways, but I usually only consumed about half of what I packed for myself. 

I was falling into anorexia. My daily routine was becoming more disordered. I would skip breakfast, eat maybe half of my lunch (usually only fruit and veggies), take a few extra laps when I had time in college, eat a decent yet impossibly large dinner, and then work it off on the treadmill. It was all paying off. I lost almost enough weight to put me “below normal.” I was ecstatic. Meals became a battle in which the ever diminishing healthy part of me lost. My clothes no longer fit as well. People were complimenting me again. I felt on top of the world. The restriction and exercise became my new highs. I weighed myself at least ten times a day, and let the change determine how much I could eat or had to work off. I would see my size drop in the mirror after exercise and then gain and grow flabbier for each bite of food I consumed. All I could hear all day long was the ED voice. Concentrating on anything else, even my beloved schoolwork, was impossible.

After the first of the year my current therapist (seen for depression, anxiety, and self-harm) recommended I switch to someone specialized in eating disorders. In a sick way I was satisfied with that, but also very much in denial. My parents knew for sure that this was a problem and they supported the move. My new therapist helped to an extent I suppose, but not enough to keep me from falling deeper down the dark pit that is an eating disorder.

I honestly don’t know how I survived the last trimester of senior year. My cognitive ability was almost nonexistent, so the fact that I still graduated with a gold cord astonishes me. I exercised every single day. My runs became longer and more intense. I had my “little black book” where I would record every single calorie consumed and burned off. I won’t go into specifics of how I managed it but the nets ranged from negative to in the hundreds. I lost more weight, enough that my dress for graduation was already baggy on me even though I had just bought it. I still looked in the mirror and saw fat everywhere. There were days I would cry over an apple. I was miserable but the euphoria of restriction and compulsive exercise coupled with an overpowering ED voice shielded me from realizing it.

The eating disorder consumed me entirely. I was past the point of only wanting to lose a portion of the weight gained post-surgery. I wanted it all gone, and fast. My goal now became the admittingly unhealthy weight I was before I had the correction done. I ignored the fact that I was now an adult, not a 14 year old, and believed I would be more than fine. Once I had the number set in my head nothing would stop me. That summer was rough. My parents desperately tried anything they could to get me to eat. It became a constant power struggle, me against them. I found new ways to restrict and exercise without their knowledge. I would do anything, even hiding food in my napkin, pockets, or bra. I stayed at the table longer than anyone else, picking at my food and then tossing the rest. Even when my mom and dad caught on, I had no shame or remorse. They began to have me eat out at mainly fast food restaurants quite often, which only made me exercise and restrict more after and increased the thoughts. All the while, I continued to hate myself more. Nothing made me look in the mirror and actually like what I was seeing. The only time I could actually appreciate my body at all is after a long run or period of restriction. The physical effects of my illness seemed to grow each day. My hair was coming out in chunks. I injured myself all the time. I was cold in the middle of summer. My face grew gaunt and I looked dead. I was always dizzy and passed out frequently. My already frequent bruising was now much worse. I was weaker and more fatigued than I ever had been. My fingernails were now always purple due to decreased circulation.

In the end of June I went for 5 days to Disneyworld for HOSA nationals. I restricted more during this time than ever before since my mom and dad were no longer watching. Walking the park also burned a very large amount of calories without me ever having to step on the treadmill. I knew I must have freaked out the other girls and my teacher but I didn’t care. I have little memory of the trip because I was very malnourished. Competing in my events was so hard that I could barely manage. I stepped off the plane even closer to my end goal. A week later I had my wisdom teeth taken out. The ED snatched this opportunity up. I was in plenty of pain for around a week which meant no exercise. I more than compensated by using the pain to refuse nearly all food. This went on for two weeks as I milked the whole “my mouth hurts” excuse. I had hit my lowest weight and was mentally in a very dark place. I couldn’t have gotten out of it on my own if I wanted to.  I distinctly remember my mom coming into the bathroom and crying over how much my hips stuck out. Soon after she called Forest View.

I spent the last month of summer where everyone dreams of being, in partial hospitalization at a mental hospital. I was there 8:30-3:30 five days a week. My first day I was forced to say it out loud. I was in such denial. I couldn’t be sick. I certainly wasn’t sick enough to be there. I said it though, through tears, “I struggle with anorexia.” I was so stuck in my ways. I refused to finish any meals my first two weeks. I didn’t even touch any ensures when they “offered” me one after every refusal. I would come home each day, not follow my meal plan and exercise to make up for the “insane” amount of calories I was forced to consume. I lied to get away with the running, telling my parents that it was okay and my doctor approved. I cried every single day. I didn’t take treatment seriously until the second week. The doctor told me flat out that if I were inpatient I would have a feeding tube. I had lost weight, which really excited me at first. He then gave me a few days to turn this around or I would be forced inpatient. That scared me because it could also lead to him saying I couldn’t go to college that fall. After that meeting I started to really try. I actually did get plenty out of the ED groups and met some very sweet women there. I felt like I was a part of something and that I wasn’t alone in my struggles. I slowly accepted my diagnosis and the necessity of recovery. I left PHP the week before classes began and I truly felt I had it all taken care of. I had a reason to continue recovery (school) and a new therapist. Plus, my parents would be on me, so how could it be that bad?

Those first few months were pretty decent. I still attempted to follow my meal plan. I wasn’t exercising nearly as much. I loved my new therapist and felt like I was really getting work done there. More importantly, I became a youth leader which gave me a valid reason to recover. Thinking about the girls helped me push through some tough spots. Despite all that pushed me towards recovery, I began to slip at the end of the fall semester. I was over-stressed and felt out of control. This time I really had to hide my restriction and exercise, since my parents were still so worried about me. I eventually was “strongly persuaded” to start eating again if I wanted to go to youth camp in January. I had a short-term reason to recover and I did my best to go for it once again. This lead to refeeding symptoms that I had to deal with completely on my own. I went to camp and shortly after began to grow more into my sickness. 

I could be a youth leader without recovery. I could do school without recovery. Why did I need to recover? Granted, neither of those things I could give my all in or do well, but in my mind this made sense. So I just continued to pretend I was in recovery when I needed to be and act out on the disorder the rest of the time. I struggled in silence. My parents knew absolutely nothing because I was a pro at hiding it. I told only a few friends and my therapist the truth. By the beginning of summer I was basically at the point of needing treatment again, which I refused. We had NTS camp in June and I was not missing it for anything. The determination to go gave me enough motivation to do slightly better. I skated by and entered camp a complete mess. Looking back, I most definitely shouldn’t have gone. I couldn’t even take care of myself that week, let alone be there for five girls. It was another amazing time lost to my eating disorder. I have nothing but regret now. My girls deserved better and I should have been in treatment.

The one good thing that came out of NTS was motivation to recover (again). I was on a spiritual high and I felt I could totally do it. I was right for maybe a week. I worked ~30 hours or more per week as a housekeeper which was wonderful for my eating disorder. Not only was I burning calories all the time, it also meant many meals and snacks away from my parents’ watchful eyes. I barely ate a thing during all of those long shifts. It ended up really hurting my work performance. The front desk would ask me to do something and five minutes later I would completely forget what it was. I even had a hard time remembering the sequence to cleaning bathrooms even though I had known it for months. I was also exhausted, weak, and passed out multiple times, mainly when cleaning the showers there. As the summer ended, my therapist pleaded with me to go back into treatment. I refused and refused but by the second half of August I agreed, surprising my parents more than anything. They were ultimately very supportive after the initial shock. I was so tired of everything. I didn’t have enough energy to refuse it. I wanted to be able to go to Calvin in a few weeks. I had to go or I truly felt I would die, so off to Forest View I went. Oddly enough, my reason to pursue recovery was also a huge cause of me getting so stressed and deep into the ED again in the first place.

The week inpatient was a complete joke and bandaid. I ate 100% of all meals and snacks simply out of fear that I would be tubed or forced to quit college. It wasn’t easy, given how much I was restricting prior, but I managed. I even convinced myself that this would be different. I was going away to college and that was such a huge thing that I couldn’t blow it with this stupid eating disorder stuff. So, once again, school became the sole motivation for recovery.

I had about four days at home before moving into the dorms. I spent them soaking up quality family time. That didn’t give me too much time to worry. I was so sure I would have this under control. The excitement of college well overpowered any uncertainties. I somewhat got used to practicing my meal plan on the outside, packed up, and left for school.

New home, new dining halls, new therapist, new dietitian, new people, new classes. All of the newness distracted me for a while. I followed my meal plan for the most part that first week or two. I had a dietitian and therapy appointment weekly. I felt really on top of everything. I even told a few people at school so that I could have some support and accountability.

Everything caught up with me really quickly. I honestly wasn’t prepared for college. I was in no way solid enough in my recovery to handle the stressors, so I just didn’t. Being thrust into a new world with constant comments from others on weight, size, diets, and calories was a harsh new reaity. I once again found myself cutting out foods. This time around it began with severely limiting my variety. I literally had the same exactly lunch every day for the entirety of my first semester. My dinner would consist of a small portion of chicken, veggies, and fruit. I skipped out on snacks. Yoga became a part of my daily routine, but I would only allow myself to do weight-loss videos. I used a calorie counting app to help me stick to limits I set. My parents were worried about me constantly, but it was so easy to hide how I was really doing. I only saw them on weekends, so I would simply allow myself just enough food for them not to freak out then go back to restriction. By the end of September I was well on my way back to where I had been a month before.

The very last weekend in September, just a few hours into dorm retreat, I ran collided with a guy during capture the flag and broke my nose, suffered a concussion, and fractured my orbital socket. I ended up needing surgery and missed 3.5 weeks of school. During this time I was home, which I guess was good for my recovery since I was forced to eat and keep from exercising. I was suffering so much mentally though, and I knew that the second I got the chance to I would go straight back to the ED. The amount of stress I was under trying to make my work up was unreal. Instead of fueling my body, I continued to starve and abuse it. I couldn’t deal with my size compared to everyone else on campus or what I used to be. I gave up counting calories and just resorting to eating almost exclusively fruit, vegetables, and chicken. I was still doing the weight loss yoga. My grades slipped lower than I’d ever experienced in my entire academic career.

By November I had lost a significant amount of weight, worrying my dietitian and therapist. ED thoughts were stronger than ever before. I was sicker than I ever was previously, yet I was within the healthy BMI range. Because of this I was in complete denial and refused to let up on my goal of shedding pounds to reach my goal weight once again. At our appointment the first week of November, my therapist told me I had to go get a medical check-up and bloodwork or she would start the process of forcing me to leave school. Panic set in instantly and I headed to health services. My labs and everything were generally okay, much to my surprise. Even so, this was a wakeup call and moment of clarity. I saw a 0% chance that I could do this on my own. The healthy part of me knew I needed treatment. I wasn’t going to make it through the semester without being forced into treatment, so why not go in voluntary instead? I was also terrified that if I didn’t get help now I could end up dying from this disease. That weekend I went home and told my parents everything. I blindsided them and I truly felt bad for that, unlike all the other times I numbed the guilt out. At the same time I was so confused and worried myself that all I wanted was comfort and support. We made a pretty solid decision that Sunday for me to take a medical leave. Deciding to enter treatment and lost school was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At that point I had no solid plans, a quickly shrinking amount of time to have in treatment, and I hadn’t even told my friends, treatment team, or school. 

I cried so much during my appointment with my therapist the next day. I skipped all of my classes since I really couldn’t deal with any of it and I would be leaving soon anyways. She kept repeating how proud of me to make this decision for my health. I made an appointment with student services the next day and a follow up with her the day after that. The reality of it all shocked me. I gained courage that day to tell a few people close to me what was about to happen. They were supportive but also really sad. My meeting with student services was sobering. I was again praised for making the best decision for me, signed a few papers, was given a move out date, and sent out with a “good luck” and information for when I got back. My RD and I had a short talk later that day and I found out everything I needed to do in regards to moving out of the dorms. My parents decided the next day would be it, only 9 days after I was warned about the possibility of forced leave. I met with my therapist that morning and cried more than I ever have in session. Her pride in me helped so much, even as we both struggled through tears. I gave her a hug and went on my way into the unknown. Soon after, we packed up every possession in my room, said goodbye to my friends, and began the trip home.

I bawled the entire ride home and for the whole rest of the day. I also was attempting to research as many treatment centers as possible. I really preferred a smaller center, although at that point I was desperate enough to go almost anywhere. I had no luck for two days. Every place was full, had too long of a wait time, or didn’t accept my insurance. On Friday I had all but given up and decided to try one of the places my therapist gave me the name of, Center for Discovery. I sent an email about it and got a phone call within an hour. The intake woman calmed most of my fears by telling me I could come within a week. It was finally real. The program was exactly what I had hoped for, small (only two other girls were there at the time with a max of 6 residential and 2 PHP), in a home environment, individualized, with some freedoms as you moved up levels, and the added bonus of being in the warm SoCal sun. The hugest blessing came when I found out that 1. my insurance would cover 100% and 2. CFD was going to pay for my very expensive, last minute plane ticket. I was filled with anxiety but also peace. I was finally going to get real help. I had a solid chance of recovering for real. After years in sickness and finally realizing how miserable it was, I cried for joy over this opportunity. I flew out on November 19th, two days after my 20th birthday and not even a week after my first contact with CFD.

I knew from the beginning that going to residential was going to change me, but I don’t think I ever anticipated or imagined the amount of progress I actually made. Its actually very hard to be too concise about everything I learned in treatment. I made a promise to myself that I was going to avoid all supplementation and unfinished meals. I didn’t want it to be like Forest View. I needed it to not be. I was challenged more in my time there than ever. It certainly isn’t easy challenging behaviors and thought patterns you’ve had for so many years. The first week broke me in many ways. I wasn’t moved up a treatment or exercise level and I was extremely defeated. How could I have made so much progress (n my mind) yet stay stagnant according to my treatment team? I fell into a depression and lost much faith in myself. I wondered if I could really do this and whether my hard work even meant anything. Not being able to go on the outing that weekend on one of the girls last days was one of the worst moments the entire time I was at CFD. By the next week, however, my attitude changed. I realized that I couldn’t rely on others to determine whether I was successful or not. I was the one who needed to recognize my own progress, so I did. I began a list of things I accomplished each week that I still do today. Its been very healing for me. I put every ounce of myself into recovery. I not only completed assignments and goals set by the treatment team, but went above and beyond enough to receive the nickname of Challenge Queen. I wore it with pride. Each day in treatment brought new successes, although not without hard times and setbacks. I was fine with the imperfection for the first time in my life. I cannot ever be expected to perfectly recovery. It just isn’t possible. As the weeks went on I led many groups, went on outings and passes, supported and helped the other girls, took walks in the mornings to see Napoleon the majestic cat, challenged myself with food, worked on my autobiography and timeline, learned and practiced coping skills, practiced yoga in a healthy way, decided to stay an extra week to best benefit my recovery, and much more. Explaining all I learned from CFD without writing an entire novel is hard. Easily the most important realization from residential is that I want recovery for me. I am not working at this for outside motivation. I finally believe that I deserve it wholeheartedly and I am doing the best I can to stick to that each and every day. After hardest and most rewarding 5.5 weeks of my life, I headed home.

I can’t sit here and talk about how amazing things have been since coming home without acknowledging the struggles. There have been many setbacks, hard days, return of strong ED thoughts, some lying, plenty of body checking (if only the real world had little mirror access like at CFD!), terrible body image, meals and snacks where I barely followed my meal plan enough. Being at school where I was so sick before is especially hard. At the same time, these two months have been better than I could ever imagine. I am so thankful for recovery. I am becoming myself again and I love discovering who she is without being so consumed by darkness. This is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with myself. I am learning to love my imperfections. The joy I feel now cannot begin to compare to the false euphoria and trickery of the ED. 

The hardship having an eating disorder is something that I, at one point, found very hard to deal with. My cognitive function has not improved even with refeeding. I’ve lost many relationships and hurt the ones that survived through it all. I spent years of my life not living at all. I broke my parents’ and friends’ hearts over and over. Nearly three years of schooling were almost ruined. My faith in God suffered and I am only beginning to repair it. My body has lasting scars, not only in the form of stretch marks. Vacations, camp, Disneyworld, college, and every day consumed by the ED. My depression and anxiety, body image, self-hatred, and hopelessness grew exponentially. Even with the extent of the damage anorexia has had on my life, I am actually thankful for it in a way. I’ve learned more about myself and become more resilient. I have met amazing people and formed great friendships along the way. My new passion of mental health and eating disorder awareness never would have come if I wasn’t ever sick. I’ve grown stronger. I no longer ask “why me” and instead accept that this all has happened for a reason. 

I’ve discovered, over time and especially during wall work at residential, what things led up to my eating disorder. There are many specific events but I really feel that a few negative core beliefs were the biggest factor. What I came up with is that I’ve always felt inadequate and unworthy, even back to some of my earliest memories. It really makes sense that someone believing those things so strongly would turn to an eating disorder for comfort. It gave me a purpose to live and one way I could be proud of myself. Knowing this now is helping me fight back and know what situations and emotions will trigger me the most. I am also trying to use affirmations and faith in God to pull me through dark times since it fights against those negative beliefs.

I am not going to be Emily the anorexic who dies from her disorder. I won’t define myself as anorexic at all. I am so much more than my eating disorder! My story is not over yet and this will one day not be the defining part of it, just a chapter. Its been a big part of my life but I have faith that won’t be the case forever. I will continually put in the hard work for recovery and treat myself with compassion and kindness. Recovery isn’t the easy choice by any mean, but it is absolutely the best one.

I’m not the “me” that I started with

My friends say my eyes are brighter

I’m not the “me” that I started with

I’m freer, and I’m wiser, and I’m stronger

We are crushed and created

We are melted and made

We are broken and built up, in the very same way

What I thought I could handle

What I thought I could take

What I thought would destroy me leaves me stronger in its wake

Crushed and Created – Caitlyn Smith

NEDA Week in pictures

I love everything about NEDA week/month! Last year I was sick and posted things about recovery because I thought I was fine (I chuckle at that thought now, ha). I wanted to do more this time around. I shared about a zillion awesome articles, infographics, videos, etc on my Facebook which probably annoyed everyone but oh well. I also took NEDA week itself as a time to share my story which I had never done before. I do frequently post tiny snippets on IG but FB is a completely different story. I wanted to change that even though actually posting was HARD. I ended up doing a wear purple picture each day with an intro part I kept the same through the week and then the second half of the caption I shared my story. Here’s a rundown of the week:

Sunday – Day 1

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  • First thing’s first, Kim and I made NEDA week challenges for each other during our bible study time. I definitely had “the Ed face” (I’ll have to make a post on it some day oh boy) on when I first read through it. Ed HATED it. Emily wasn’t so happy with certain points either but we promised each other we would do it so I couldn’t back out. Looking back it really was a good thing, even if I’m not much better at drinking milk than I was Day 1.

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  • These two go together with my dreaded fear of changing cereals and dairy. Kim bought those Cheerios for me so I wouldn’t have an excuse not to get more vitamin D. You better believe I gave her “the Ed face” for that one! I believe I got about two sips of milk in that night. Other than this week I haven’t touched milk once since FV so it’s harder than it looks. I did, however, prove to myself that I can eat cereal other than my beloved Kashi. At least I’ve expanded my food variety a teeny bit.

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  • This part I posted with each day: My very first #wearpurple selfie to kick off #NEDAwareness week. This years theme is “I had no idea.” I am going to be sharing parts of my own story to go along with the theme and spread awareness this week. It is so important to get others more information about eating disorders so we can provide adequate treatment, erase the stigma, and eradicate eating disorders one person at a time.
  • And the “I had no idea” part: I had no idea… that losing a few pounds due to sickness could be fuel to the fire and ultimately help start my battle with this disease.

Monday – Day 2

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  • I posted a ton of post-its with inspiring messages in the women’s bathrooms at school. It was so fun and I had to be pretty stealthy since I wanted it to be anonymous. Too bad the janitors took them down by the next day and I had to put more up 😦

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  • I had an ounce more of bravery for my Day 2 post: I had no idea… I would lose so much more than just weight to my eating disorder. Only since being in recovery have I begun to see how much this disease changed my life. I lost friends, trust, health, happiness, faith in God, and more. Even if the weight is most obvious to others, the psychological and emotional effects of eating disorders are just as important to consider as physical ones.

Tuesday – Day 3

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  • I went all out with the awareness at school. I printed these awesome posters from the NEDA website and hung them up around school. Nobody took those down thankfully 🙂

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  • Made up and put up a bunch more post-its. This is the last day I took pictures of but I did continue each day I was at school.

[there was a comparison photo here but I no longer find those as anything but harmful]

  • This was absolutely amazing. It was really hard but I am incredibly happy I decided to do a transformation Tuesday and post this photo and caption: I had no idea… that recovery is possible and so beyond worth it. 8 months ago, I was the girl on the left. I let ED thoughts control my life. I was physically weak and mentally in a terrible place. I was dying and I really didn’t care. I thank God that none of the above is true anymore. I have my bad meals, days, and sometimes weeks, however, my worst moments in recovery are nothing compared to when the ED was in full control. I am learning to love myself again. I have light in my eyes. I am happy and blessed to be alive. Recovery is nowhere near easy but it is the best decision you could ever make for yourself. No matter what the ED voice says it IS possible to fully recover!

Wednesday – Day 4

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  • First up is the tear-inducing message I received from a girl I went to high school with but have never actually spoken to. This and other comments thanking me for sharing my story make opening up and being vulnerable so so worth it.

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  • I had no idea… only 1 in 10 eating disorder sufferers get treatment. I am part of the lucky ten percent. Treatment has saved my life. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today with the awesome team I’m blessed with. Lack of awareness, poor health professional knowledge, and the huge stigma surrounding these disorders all play into why so few get treatment. Let’s take this week to change that.

Thursday – Day 5

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  • I had no idea… that hating my body is not a fact I should simply accept about myself just because it’s all I’ve known since I can remember. I’ll be honest, I don’t love my body now. I am just beginning to head in that direction. It’s a lot of work. The thing is, I know there’s better than how I feel about my body now. I will love it one day. I have hope. Recovery has given me that.

Friday – Day 6

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  • My mom bought Ovaltine to go in my milk since it has D in it. Somehow that definitely made drinking my milk harder but I pushed through and got closer to finishing.

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  • I had no idea… that I was never alone in my struggles, regardless of what lies the ED fed me. There are 30 million plus Americans who have eating disorders. They come from a variety of backgrounds and make up all religions, genders, ethnicities, ages, economic classes, body types, and walks of life. Eating disorders do not discriminate. If you were like me, and feel alone, please know that you aren’t. There are so many people out there fighting, just like you.

Saturday – Day 7

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  • I had no idea… that many health professionals overlook or misdiagnose eating disorders. The problem here is twofold. First, doctors and other health professionals need more education on eating disorders. They have to be able to see the signs and know what kind of care their patients would benefit from. I’ve had a few bad experiences myself when it comes to talking about it, even with a therapist. At the very least, they should be able to point you in the right direction for treatment even if that isn’t them. The second issue with EDs and health professionals is the nature of the disorders. It’s shameful when you’re stuck in one. It isn’t easy to admit what’s really going on. Awareness is truly helpful in this area because once people realize that they may be sick it gets easier to tell your doctor or therapist. I honestly believe that getting awareness and education will result in more diagnoses and treatment.

    Eating disorder awareness week/month ends today, but the need for information, awareness, and learning doesn’t stop here. There are so many ways to get involved whether it be through participating in a NEDA walk, donating, putting fliers up, sharing on social media, or finding out how to support a friend in need. Together we can make a difference and beat eating disorders.

I hope I made a difference this week. Even helping just one person in some way makes it all worthwhile. I have learned a lot about myself this week. I’ve realized that sharing my story is a gift. There has been even more of a fire lit in my heart to help people with eating disorders. I have talked with some strong and inspiring people. I am going to continue spreading awareness and helping others in any way I can until next year!

Three days

In three days I will be sharing my story with my high school girls. It seems like forever since I initially decided to do this. I have spent hours reading through Bible verses, praying, and planning out exactly how I will share in a way that will be beneficial to the girls but myself as well. I have learned more about myself. I can see that the eating disorder is not all bad, even thought it has caused a ton of havoc in my life. Last Sunday I gave my outline to both Kim and Rick. Yesterday I told all of the girls what time to be at the church and how we are having a girls outing. This is really happening and I am so ready.

I messaged Kim today to make sure everything was okay with how I wrote it out and her response made me cry. I love her.

Screenshot_2014-10-09-13-03-12-1Receiving her approval has inspired me to post the outline here. I feel confident in what I have written. I hope and pray that the words I speak and scriptures I share will reach these girls in the most positive way possible.


I have been a Christian since I was very young, but also from a young age I never really loved myself or thought I was worthwhile

  • Bad self esteem/self acceptance
  • Led to self harm off and on for years and mentally beating myself up all the time
  • Didn’t believe the “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” concept

Decided to stop self harm/realize I have a problem and talk about it at NTS 2013

  • Quitting was hard but I have been SH free for nearly a year

Fall 2013 I began developing an eating disorder (anorexia) as I got better with SH

  • Skipping lunch occasionally led to an extreme fear of eating with others, later eating anything other than a few specific foods/amounts
  • Couldn’t focus on anything other than food, weight, exercise, etc
  • Continued to try and deny how bad the problem was as the year went on
  • Went to therapy but it didn’t help much
  • My relationship with God was strained badly
  • Summer 2014 it got so bad that I had to go to PHP treatment at Forest View
    • hardest thing I’ve ever done but it saved my life

Recovery hasn’t been easy at all but now I am learning to live again

  • I am so much closer to God now
  • He is showing me:
    • He will use my struggle
    • I am worthy of love
    • I am not broken
    • I am strong (feel stronger than in the worst part of my sickness)

Recovery is:

  • Learning to be patient with myself
  • Not having to be perfect
  • Learning to see myself as God and others do
  • Seeing how bad the ED truly is. It has made me separate from God, lie, hurt others who love me, close off emotionally, isolate, hate myself the way God designed me
  • Healing spiritually
  • Wanting to fight the thoughts that have hurt me for so long
  • Fully trusting in God
  • Believing I have a purpose and future
  • Beginning to really love myself

In the beginning of my recovery I had times where I asked “Why God?” I didn’t understand why I had to change at first. I didn’t get why God would let me suffer like this. I didn’t think any good could ever come from this disorder.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    • Paul saw his own weaknesses as areas where strength through God could come
    • Ephesians 3:13 – I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Learning that the ED was a bad thing and a way Satan controlled my life was hard.

  • John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life; and have it to the full.
  • Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

I’m still learning that it doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside, but who I am. Satan’s view of beauty is all what’s on the outside, and this is also the ED’s view of beauty. God doesn’t see beauty this way.

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 – Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

The eating disorder always caused tons of anxiety – what I would eat, how to get away with skipping meals, would I be forced to eat in front of others, did I gain weight last night. I spent so much of my life the past year or two with thoughts like these. In recovery, I have worked hard to reduce my worrying. God doesn’t want me to be stuck in this worry, especially not about things like this.

  • Matthew 6:25-27 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
    • 34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As I leaned more on God in recovery I felt better. He was there for me through it all. I didn’t have to be perfect. God will help me even in my imperfection.

  • Psalm 34:17-18 – The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
  • 1 Corinthians talks about our bodies being temples and this has helped thinking of it that way versus the ED thoughts.

I am not perfect but I am getting better. I am not recovered but in recovery still and this is OKAY. God is showing me new things each day and He is making me stronger and more full of life. Even though I have gained weight it doesn’t make me weak or a bad person. I am healthier now. I am happier. I am able to do all these wonderful things I couldn’t be doing if I was really sick.

I don’t believe I would be where I am today if I had never gotten sick. This disorder has had all kinds of negative consequences but it also is a part of my story and who I have become. I won’t let it define me but I am letting it make me stronger, closer to God, and a better person overall.


So in approximately 72 hours I will be reading this to the girls. I’m not really nervous anymore. I am still continually praying and practicing until then, but I know that God will take care of my fears and it will go fine.

My Story & Why This Blog

My name is Emily. I am currently fighting against anorexia as well as anxiety and depression. I have dealt with both anxiety and depression in some form since I can remember. Both have worsened in recent years but I am hopeful that with hard work on my part, therapy, and medication I will get better. I honestly can’t pinpoint when my eating disorder started. I have had low self esteem (including thoughts like “I’m too fat”) forever, but the behaviors really didn’t begin until about two years ago and intensified last fall. Last year was my senior year of high school and I was taking college classes. It began when I developed a fear of eating lunch at the college. I started eating less and less and eventually skipped lunch altogether most days. After fall semester, I had to eat at the career tech center instead. For about a month I did well but then it got worse and I ended up skipping lunches again. It felt like a huge spiral and suddenly I was in a world of calorie counting and weighing myself fifteen times a day and exercising whenever possible. It was extremely miserable but I couldn’t stop. In April I started seeing an “ED” therapist (I went to a different therapist from October till then and she helped with the depression and anxiety) and she helped a little initially. I don’t give her much credit because to be honest she said a ton of hurtful things and couldn’t do much for me, but it was like a band-aid that helped me get through senior year. This summer was HELL as far as the eating disorder goes. I went to Disney in Florida for HOSA Nationals five days in the end of June. It was an amazing experience ruined by my eating disorder. I honestly have no clue how I managed to avoid passing out because I didn’t eat anywhere near enough. Also, how the other two girls I roomed with or my instructor didn’t notice is beyond me. My mom tried to get me to eat more once I came home, but I spent the majority of the summer lying to her and losing weight. My mom and dad were both fed up with it at that point. I didn’t realize how much it was in control until I got my wisdom teeth out towards the end of July. I was in a lot of pain after it and that gave me a very valid excuse to restrict as much as possible. I don’t know exactly how much I lost during the first week after, but I know it was pretty bad. When I saw my therapist that week and she was shocked about the weight loss it kind of clicked in my head that I needed help. I had received a brochure for a treatment center near me from my psychologist in June and I started looking into it. My mom called and the next week I had my evaluation. They decided I would be admitted into their partial hospitalization program. I went very unwillingly at first. After two days the first week I saw that I needed to be there. I spent 16 days in PHP total and it has changed me. The girls there and the staff are amazing. I made many friendships and I gained not only weight but also a new view towards life. I am not even close to being recovered. I don’t choose recovery everyday. I am not committed to it by any means. With all that said, PHP has made me see why I need to recover. It’s given me hope. I do want this for me most days. That in itself is huge. I’m not perfect and everyday is a huge struggle, but I believe in myself and I know I will beat Ed one day.

This blog is going to be a diary of sorts. I want a place where I can write everything I’m feeling and look back on things I’ve overcome and struggles I’ve faced. It is 100% for my own healing and benefit. I also will continue to post on my Tumblr, but this blog will contain more personal posts and possibly triggering information at times.