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  1. If you value the emotional connection in relationships, stop putting so much weight in relationships that depend on the status of superficial traits.

One of my biggest fears when first beginning recovery, and then once again when leaving treatment and re-entering my usual life, was that if I was to return to a healthy weight, many of the individuals I value in my life would value me less or ostracize me because of it. This, of course, was not what recovery resulted in, and if anything, recovering gave me more energy and time to be a better friend, girlfriend and daughter, but the disorder insisted nothing besides my physical embodiment was valued in society. As I recovered, I slowly realized how trivial appearance and BMI are, and determined a friendship where something so superficial held so much weight was not truly valuable.

  1. Once you become free, it feels better than anything could throughout your disorder.

If you’ve ever known someone that has, or experienced an eating disorder yourself, you likely know how much restriction and rules are involved. The further I progressed in recovery, the quieter the voice of my anorexia yelled at me for every action it disagreed with. Now, I am able to go on spontaneous trips to restaurants, try new foods and eat a second (or a third) helping of dessert-and nothing could beat that feeling. 

  1. It’s so much more fun to dress for style rather than for the purpose of hiding an insecurity.

When I was a kid, I loved fashion. I was convinced I wanted to be a fashion designer, living in New York City or Paris in a fancy apartment with a rooftop garden. My eating disorder slowly corrupted any creativity with my clothing choices, replacing it with constant anxiety. I have relearned my love for style, and am finding out that it is much harder to have a bad day when you’re wearing funky earrings and heels.

  1. Eating disorders can cause permanent physical damage!

One of the most shocking things for me in treatment was that in just a number of years, I had done permanent damage to my body by depriving it of the nourishment it needs and deserves. There are a number of side effects of eating disorders, including weakened bones, G.I. issues and heart conditions, many of which can last for the rest of your life.

  1. Life is so much more full when you have the energy to live it.

Perhaps the best part of recovery was the energy that comes with finally ending the deprivation you’ve inflicted yourself with over months or years and enjoying the surge of energy returning to your body. I found myself noticing how much more I laughed, smiled, and danced-and I know recovery has done nothing but make me a better, confident and truer version of myself.

Lily is a sophomore at SUNY Geneseo studying neuroscience with intentions of progressing on to medical school. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, hiking, and trying new coffee shops.
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