NEDA WEEK 2020

The Lalapop Art BananaAnna Schultz-Friends Putting Make Up In Front Of Mirror

 

After writing my first article about my struggles with an eating disorder, I had no intention of writing another one; I thought I had already said everything I needed to. However, considering it is NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) week, and since the amount of people that have reached out to me in regards to my last article is overwhelming, I decided to write once more on the topic. But this time, I want to share the past few months of my life; the months where I have lived in a dorm rather than a hospital and have had the power and burden of choosing my own meals rather than having them served. Sacred Heart University has been a huge transition and honestly could have been a fatal change in my life. But it hasn’t. And I have learned more about myself here in the last six months than I have in the last eighteen years of my life. 

 

As an English major, I am not going to lie to you. I feel it is my duty to tell the truth; to write the truth; to give absolutely everything I have in me to a 9 X 11 letter size piece of white paper. So has college been amazing? So far, yes. But I have also had small relapses, but nothing I couldn’t overcome. I still sometimes give into the voice in my head telling me not to eat the pizza, mentally smacking me for looking at the delectable chocolate frosting adorning a piece of yellow cake in 63’s. Some days, just waking up knowing I have to eat breakfast gives me anxiety. Although most people thrive on “all you can eat,” those four words are the most terrifying things someone with, or recovering from an eating disorder could hear. For me, the dining hall is still a bingeing hazard, and I do not go to Linda’s often because I do not like the idea of not being able to pick exactly what is on my plate and the amount. (So basically what I’m saying is if you need dining dollars I got you). But in all seriousness, I am most definitely not 100% okay… but that’s okay. My eating disorder defined me for a long time, but now it doesn’t have that effect on me. It is still a huge part of me and has shaped my life in ways I did not even realize until I came to Sacred Heart. It’s paved me a rocky past and a roller coaster ride of self-esteem, but it has also given me power. 

 

I have learned it is okay to say no. It is okay to feel like shit sometimes. It is okay to not be a happy, bubbly, and energetic person all the time. It is okay to ask for help. It is even okay to skip a class once for mental health purposes. Having an eating disorder closed me off emotionally to the extent where I felt completely numb. Nothing made me happy, nothing could make me sad, and my love for my family at the time was shallow. Trust me mom and dad, it was there, but it was buried underneath self-neglect. Regular human emotion became foreign to me, and what I realized only a short time ago, was that I still carry some of that with me. I have built walls I wish I had the mental capacity to tear down. I have preconceived notions of myself that skew the way I think others perceive me. I thought I was an extremely open and stable person until the possibility of actually letting someone else all the way in came along. It wasn’t until then that I realized I had even walls built. It wasn’t until then I looked back and realized that I would always listen to others problems, but I would only journal mine because I did not want to “burden” others with my own. I withhold parts of what I feel in fear that others will not understand or they will judge. I used lack of emotion and the feeling of numbness to protect myself; I still do. But I have also learned that that is no way to live. 

 

I may still be fighting a voice inside my head, but I think I am doing a damn good job. I have a wonderful group of friends; I love school and learning again. I let myself snack on chocolate and eat cake after dinner. Working out is a source of stress relief and enjoyment rather than an active attempt of losing weight. Family breakfast has once again become one of my favorite activities, and my grandmothers homemade birthday cake once again makes my mouth water and eyes light up like a christmas tree. 

 

But I guess why I am writing this is because although I am doing one-million times better, I still struggle; and I want people to know that's okay. Everyone is going through something. You are not alone in your fears or your battles. I have yet to tear down the walls my eating disorder built, but I’ve recognized them; I want to break them, but I know the only person who can is me. Fear can be our worst enemy, but it can also push us to do amazing things; things we never thought we were capable of. 

 

So I know this article was kinda all over the place, but my point is life is a struggle. Even when you overcome a battle, there will be another one right after. Life doesn’t give you a break… you have to give yourself one. You have to accept yourself and be introspective. If you can’t let others in, at least let yourself in. Embrace fear because it will eventually make you feel alive. Tear down your walls; you don’t want to live life shutting yourself in without realizing it. To be vulnerable is the scariest thing I think any human can be; but it’s also beautiful. Because without vulnerability, we are unable to see the naked beauty within others and within ourselves. 

 

Life is a struggle; and that’s okay. You are allowed to feel any and every emotion you do; those feelings are valid. You are valid. It is okay if you are not ready to tear down the walls you might have; or maybe you haven’t even figured out what those walls are; but do me a favor and promise to try your best. I know I am. Because I truly believe without embracing fear and breaking walls, you will have never fully lived. And that, I believe, is the only true burden you could give yourself and others.

Kristen Bryant-Medicine In Palm Of HandKellyn Simpkin-Strong Girl Back One Arm