A Year

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

For those musical lovers out there you will know that this song is Seasons of Love from RENT. It is by no means my favorite musical, but I do really like this song. And it relates to what I have been thinking about recently. How do you measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife?

Those are all great ways to measure a year, I suppose. But that’s not really how I measure the last year of my life. When I was diagnosed with an eating disorder a year ago, on October 11th 2015, I had no clue what the next year of my life would look like. Honestly, a year feels like a lifetime to me. My friend once told me how we feel time through change. I have gone through so much change, and thus I feel like so much time has passed. A year is a decent amount of time, but I think I have gone through more change in the past year than I have in any other year of my life. One year ago my life completely changed. Often times changes in our life are so gradual we rarely notice them. But then sometimes change hits you like BAM and there is no going back. That is what happened to me when I was diagnose. How do I even begin to measure the last year?

In donuts, in planned snacksaugust-2016

In weight gained, in appointments

In grad gifts, in miles (to college)

In good days, in tears?

There really is no accurate way to measure a year. And maybe there doesn’t need to be. Yet, I still feel the need to remind myself how far I have come in the past year. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Unless it is because I am wanting to go back to a year ago when I was skinny. Deep down I know I do not. That’s why I have chosen recovery every single day for the past year, no matter how hard it has been. And why I will continue to choose recovery going forward. It has been worth it. It took months for me to see how much it was worth it, but I do see it. I may forget it when I see how skinny I used to be, but if I remind myself of how mentally disconnected and unhappy I was, it gets a little easier.

In tight clothes, in new jeans

In fresh starts, in reflections

In pictures, in travels

In ED thoughts, in blogs

It is hard to remember what my thoughts were a year ago. My life can feel like such a blur because I am always busy and do not have the best episodic memory. That’s why I write. And I am forever thankful that I have documented my journey. To help inspire this post I went back and read through several months of journal entries. This one from the end of October 2015, after a few weeks in treatment, stuck out to me:

“Eating disorder. Two words I wish didn’t exist. Two word I wish weren’t part of me. I keep senior-piccomparing my body to how skinny it was and I don’t feel good. I have to eat so much and I associate feeling full with being fat, which is not good. I look in the mirror and think about the weight I have gained back. And ugh I just want to run again. I just want to feel happy in my own body. I spend so much time focusing on it.”

Things would get a lot worse before they got better. I had a lot more weight to gain when I wrote this. I had a lot more fear foods to conquer. I had to spend a lot of time mentally fighting myself. I had to find new ways to cope. I had to spend a lot more time learning why I had developed an eating disorder and what I needed to change about my life. But a year later I know I would have to do those things because I did do those things. I am weight restored. I have eaten my fear foods and continue to do so. I have worked hard to change my mentality. I use writing, music, yoga, and nature to cope, not food and exercise. I have a deeper understanding of who I am.

But in order to get to where I am today, I had to face my worst demons. I never want to relive January and the beginning of February of 2016. I cannot effectively put my experience at that time into a short blog post such as this, but to put it simply, during that time I had reached a point in treatment where I was reconnecting with myself and had gained a significant amount of weight. Often times in recovery people reach a point where it gets really hard and that was January/February for me. I experienced symptoms of depression as a result of reconnecting with my feelings combined with feeling lost in my life’s purpose as a result of having an eating disorder. I was depressed a lot during my eating disorder, but I just didn’t feel it because I was numb to my feelings. I was forced to confront these feelings during this part of my recovery. I was never diagnosed with depression, because I was anorexic not clinically depressed, but that does not diminish the horrible days I endured during those cold, winter months.

I continued to eat, even when I didn’t want to. I was in recovery for the long haul. I did not promcome this far to turn back, I told myself (and continue to myself). ED had already taken so much time away from me. I can never get those months back, but I continued to fight so that my future would be ED free. And things got better. I had a great end to my senior year of high school. Prom and graduation were amazing. I went on a fantastic trip to Europe. And now I am loving life as a college student, where I can live 877 miles away from home and my mom can trust me to eat all on my own. I may not be 100% recovered, but I am as close as I have been in the last year. There are less days were ED bothers me. Gradually the hours in between ED thoughts will turn into days and then into weeks, until ED will merely be an afterthought in my life.

Would I change the fact that I have dealt with an eating disorder? No.

A year ago that would have sounded insane to me. I could not fathom why this was what God had planned for me. It took time, but after a few months I began to see that I was learning so much about myself and the world around me. I knew that this happened to me for a reason. I have faith that I will be able to use my experience. It has not been for nothing. It has helped shape me to be who I am today. I hope to use what I have been through to help others. I want to use it to EnD ED entirely.

 

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