Tw: Eating Disorders
On May 14, 2021, I made the monumental decision to take back my life. Exactly six months ago, I sat down with my mom and told her I needed help, which was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. However, I knew it was a necessary conversation since I was tired of letting my eating disorder control me. Choosing recovery is an uphill battle, and there will always be days where it is difficult to remind myself it’s worthwhile, but I like to remember how much I have gained.
One of the hardest things to hear was the way people felt as though they didn’t recognize the person I had become. Nobody ever talks about how much of your personality an eating disorder can take away from you.
I’ll never forget my mother saying, “You don’t make us laugh anymore.” For a long time, I prided myself on my humor, and it felt like a characteristic that brought my family together. I lost my entire sense of self when I became consumed by thoughts of weight and food. I was overwhelmed by a sense of sadness, like life was sucked out of me entirely, and I could only express my feelings through anger.
The most relieving part of recovery thus far has been feeling alive again. There are days where I feel happy, and there are days where I feel sad. But the most important part is that at least I am feeling again. I actually find myself smiling, laughing, and cracking jokes. My fire was burnt out for too long, and I’m thankful to be in a place where my personality has been revived.
Finding happiness includes enjoying experiences that involve eating again. For so long it felt like food was my enemy, and I began to resent any event that involved it. A trip to brunch with friends was a chore. When everyone wanted dessert, I felt on the verge of tears.
I think a common misconception is that people with ED’s hate food. All my life I have loved food, and it pains me to know that diet culture made me believe I couldn’t enjoy those things. Looking back to six months ago, I would never feel comfortable with how I act now, and it’s one of the main reasons recovery is so important. I look forward to dinner with friends. I suggest we all go out for ice cream. I bake cookies and actually eat them. It took me a while to accept, but I’ve learned that food is about more than just eating. It’s about the experiences that come along with it.
The most obvious change has been my physique. My eating disorder was a restrictive one, and it caused me to become physically sick. I didn’t realize how much vigor I was lacking. Food is energy, and getting back to a healthy diet has allowed me to have opportunities I couldn’t in the past. Over the summer, it hurt to watch my entire family participate in a color run while I was not allowed to take part in any physical activity. Now, I can actually enjoy those memories, and am planning to join them in a 5k run for Thanksgiving.
While these changes to my physical and mental health were necessary, I’m most thankful for the way recovery has led me back on track to a bright future. If I did not decide to overcome my eating disorder, I would have been unable to return to Manhattan College. I was on the verge of spending my sophomore year in residential treatment, and it took a lot of strength to be trusted to live on my own again. I never thought restriction could take away everything important to me until faced with that situation. I’m happy I was able to take the steps I needed to come back to MC instead of letting my mental health ruin the life I have worked hard for.
Recovery is not perfect every day, and missing the past is inevitable. It’s taken me a while to learn that my eating disorder was never my friend, and my life was a constant struggle when I carried that baggage.
If anyone is struggling I urge you to choose happiness, and a life without restriction. These past six months have changed my life in the best way possible. I finally feel free again.