I’ve done plenty of things most people would label as hard. I’ve taken many AP classes. I’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people. I’ve put my skills out there in auditions. I’ve learned to drive a car. I’ve performed solo. I’ve taken the ACT. I’ve decided to move 14 hours away from my family for college. I’ve read all the books assigned to me in school (basically). I’ve dealt with annoying, self-centered, and egotistical people. I’ve even taken Calculus BC and lived to tell the tale. Yet, none of these things can come close in comparison to the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
The moment I found out I was diagnosed with an eating disorder was the most life altering day I’ve had thus far in my life. Suddenly everything I knew was turned upside down. I thought eating healthy was eating less, but now it meant eating so much I felt like I would explode. I thought being healthy meant exercising, but now being healthy meant not exercising so that I could gain weight. I thought skinny was the ultimate goal, but now the ultimate goal was to get me back to a normal weight. I had to fight back against all the disordered ways of thinking that had come in to my life. Recovery from anorexia is the hardest thing I have ever done. And the journey is not over. I have to continue to fight. Some days are more successful than others.
When I told my mom I thought I had an eating disorder I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knew something wasn’t right. She called an eating disorder specialist. I will never forget the date October 11th, 2015 because that night Mom told me that indeed I do have an eating disorder. I would have to go to therapy and meet with a dietician once a week. No more running. I needed to start eating. I cried. A lot. I didn’t know what my life would be like any longer. I had no idea what the future would hold for me.
Today, almost ten months later, I do know what happened. And I can guarantee it was extremely hard. Mental illness is called illness for a reason. People do not understand that you are sick. Just like cancer or diabetes, people with a mental illness need professional medical help. I seemed normal to the people around me, but inside my head I was not normal. I was obsessed with food, exercise, and my body. Physically I was not used to eating a normal amount of food. I had lost my hunger signals and no longer wanted to eat. I had all these rules about what foods I could and could not eat that I now had to break. I was forced to face the demons within me. All my self-doubt and emotions had been pushed deep down through my eating disorder. With recovery I have been forced to face these issue head on. I’ve had to actually sit with my emotions instead of being numb to them. I can’t rely on foods to make the depressed feelings go away when I do not feel good enough. I’ve had to learn better coping mechanisms.
I could not have gotten where I am today without my dietician, my parents, my best friend, and definitely my therapist. They all have been my support system through this. My dietician was the one who pushed me to follow my meal plan and eat foods outside of my comfort zone. That’s the only way to get better. My parents and best friend always were there if I was having a hard day. No matter what, they’d be there for me. And my therapist. She has been an incredible gift to me. I was lucky enough to find a therapist who I connected with. She understands me so well and understands what I’ve gone through more than anyone. Therapy is a gift. It helps you reflect on your life and make conclusions that help you be able to move forward.
My struggles with anorexia have taught me so much about myself as a person. Everything happens for a reason and when it is supposed to. I learned that I am an extremely high achiever and when taken too far it can be dangerous. I am too much of a perfectionist and this is something I need to check myself on. I care too much about what other people think. I should not feel compelled to comply with the unrealistic body image girls are expected to fulfill. My mind can become obsessed over things and will not be able to move on. I needed to learn all of these things about myself before I could go off to college and be independent.
I would not wish an eating disorder on even my worst of enemies because it is absolutely terrible. There is no such thing as a happy anorexic. ED Head takes all the joy out of your life because you can no longer live in the moment. None the less, it happened to me and I’ve dealt with it to the best of my ability. I will continue to do so because I am so close to full recovery. I want my life back. Sometimes it is easy to forget how bad it was when I see pictures of me when I was extremely skinny. But I know being healthy is what is more important. Even if society does not. What you see is not always what you get. You see a “happy” skinny girl, but she is fighting a hard battle. And to fight back to full recovery is the hardest thing of all.
The scariest thing about eating disorders to me is that they are so easy to miss. People did not know what I was dealing with. This is why I want to speak out about my experience. Maybe it could spare someone going through what I went through. I was lucky in that I caught it early on, but some people have eating disorders for huge amounts of their life. No one deserves to live like that. The more we bring awareness to eating disorders the easier it will be for us to EnD ED.