You Are Worth More Than Your Eating Disorder

Are you struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating? You're far from alone despite how lonely you may feel. No matter your background, race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation, you are not immune from a non-discriminatory disease like an eating disorder. 

The first time I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, I was 16 and fully convinced that I wasn’t sick, but strong. After loosing 40lbs in three months, it finally caught the attention of my parents, high school staff, and community. Adamantly, I resisted treatment by telling myself I wasn’t “sick enough” and that if I pushed just a little harder a little longer I would achieve the perfection I strove for. 

Here is a helpful hint: If you ever think you aren’t “sick enough” to get help, get help.

It wasn’t until I was 19 and a freshman in college that I finally crumbled and relinquished my control to medical professionals, and I have never been more grateful for a choice I made. It took me four years of suffering daily from anorexia nervosa and swerving in and out of phases of recovery to realize that this was a battle I couldn’t fight alone. I was offered help countless times by friends, family, coaches, and mentors, but it wasn’t until I actively made the decision to get better that I began to achieve a long-term recovery.

When in the midst of an eating disorder, or ED, control is achieved by the very habits that ultimately have spun out of our control. Life is ran by numbers. Calories, weights, times, and grades are just some numbers an eating disorder can thrive on. Just one calorie, one pound, one minute, or one grade point can make or break someone’s day when battling an ED. Rumination takes place over every decision because whatever the choice may be, our response is never good enough. The numbers we worship is our control in a world that is too chaotic for our liking. 

Perfection is the goal for most. Although unattainable, we continue to strive for it in all we do. One little taste of success is like a sip of water when dehydrated; just a little is not enough. We run ourselves on empty constantly while trying to achieve greatness in all we do. It is hard to fill the cups of others or balance the many cups in our own life when our cup is empty. Spread so thin, our own health and happiness loses priority in our lives. 

Why do we treat ourselves like this? 

 Maybe it’s biological, maybe it’s a personality trait, maybe it’s a product of the society we live in today, or maybe it’s a combination of all of these factors and more that have led us to such a deadly outlet for our struggles. Desiring control and striving for perfection seem to drive many down the road of eating disorders, but many are pre-dispositioned to face this deadly addiction. Eating disorders are more common to certain communities such as: those who participate in sports with a significant emphasis on body size or appearance (dancers, gymnasts, wrestlers, etc.), those who have a family history of addiction, and those who have a tendency to strive for perfection in specific areas of life. No matter the circumstances that have brought you to the dangerous world of eating disorders, I have a message for you.

You are worth more than your eating disorder.

The voices in your head may tell you otherwise, but that is a major characteristic of living under the control of ED. You have people who love you, a purpose in this world, and so much more worth overcoming the demons that are ruling you. While my battle with anorexia nervosa is an experience I would never wish upon anyone, I’m grateful beyond belief for all it has given me. Through my struggle, I have hit low points in my life where I was unkind, controlling, and an isolated person. Through the darkness I grew a compassion for others I never knew I had within me. I have made it my passion to help advocate for recovery from eating disorders and helping those who are struggling. I have met many amazing people through my experiences in treatment and sharing my story.

 

Here is a short list of the joys recovery can bring you…

 

  • Friendships

  • Romance

  • Family

  • Confidence

  • Self-Love

  • Smiles

  • Laughs

  • Freedom

  • Food

  • True Wholeness

  • Helping Others Recover

Overcoming this darkness in my life has been such an incredible experience and looking back on it, there is not a thing that I would change. Recovery is a hard road to travel and is in no way linear. There will be bumps along the way and relapse will happen, but these things don’t have to hold you back. Each day is an opportunity to be better than the day before. When slip-ups happen, it may feel like a blow to the control we are slowly gain back over our lives, but you have the power to tell the demons in your head to get lost. You are worth all the joys of overcoming eating disorders. It’s a long road ahead, but you’ve got this!

If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, please seek help. Resources are available at https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Photo Credits

Photo 1: Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Photo 2: Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

Photo 3: Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Photo 4: Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash