For me, it began when I started high school. I was stressed, yes. But did I have any idea I had an eating disorder? The answer is no. Day after day, I would feel accomplished if I went a certain number of hours without food. I would take a walk every day after school, because the thought of not taking one frightened me. I was sick. When I was met with the reality of my behavior and the idea of recovery, I was overwhelmed. I realized that for so long, I had struggled with destructive thoughts, but there was no hiding them anymore. They were now screaming for attention and people saw me, they saw them.
Now, I can honestly say that recovery saved me. It saved my body, my entire being. I will not overlook the truth that it was extremely difficult, but it was also my opportunity to make peace with myself and my ideal of perfection. I challenged the voice of my eating disorder, because I no longer wanted to be tormented by endless thoughts of food, and I no longer wanted to be quiet, isolated, and unhappy. I didn’t want to see into the future, but I knew that I didn’t want to be in the state I was in, utterly alone and purposeless. Hope was the voice during my recovery process that told me there must be meaning to life, there must be something to live for, some reason to be present. And that was the voice that I desperately followed as I restored my weight and later healed.
An eating disorder is about needing control, desperately wishing for such a thing to exist in all aspects of life. In recovery, I had to accept the widely understood truth that no one can control everything in his or her life. More importantly, I discovered that I didn’t want to control my life, I wanted to live my life.
If you have come to this page, there is a chance that you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or another type of eating disorder. Or maybe you are one simply wishing to understand more about it. To the latter, thank you. This disease too often goes overlooked or mishandled, and I appreciate anyone wishing to be more aware.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder yourself, I want you to know that as hard as it was for me to see what could be of my life during my darkest time, having an eating disorder is a fight that must be won. Throughout my journey of recovery, I had to tell myself, “Food is my medicine.” I had to take small steps, but what kept me going was a simple phrase: “This is not what I want.” “This” encompassed all the pain, isolation, and feelings of worthlessness I experienced leading up to recovery. Strength is not perfection, it is not being flawless, it is not staying quiet. Strength is being able to share, being able to be vulnerable; it is reaching out. I wanted to accomplish so much in my lifetime, but the path I was heading down was not sustainable; it could never have allowed me to reach my potential. And that’s why I share all of this. I want success and happiness for anyone who sees this, for anyone who suffers in the dark.
To those who know someone who is struggling with this disorder, reach out to that person. If you are worried, it is best to get an adult involved. However, when you talk to the person suffering, don’t make it about food, make it about support, love, and a desire to connect. Support is a beautiful step.
Below is the number for the National Eating Disorders Association hotline. For those that are fighting this disorder, if you lack any support around you or people to reach out to, I hope that my words and any bit of hope you possess can give you the strength to call this number. Help is out there and you deserve every bit of it.
National Eating Disorders Association
– by Emma, 17