I have struggled with an eating disorder. I have labeled food as good, bad, safe, unsafe, trigger foods etc. I lived, or merely existed in that world for over 15 years. Because the fact is, all those years I was not living at all. Crippled with fear, my relationship with food affected every aspect of my life. There was a period when I lived to eat and not the other way around. I did not eat to stay alive. I thought I had full control over the world I had created. But the truth is, my fear and my relationship with food was controlling me.
I wasn't the Textbook case…
I was about 14 when I first heard about Anorexia on the radio. There was a detailed description about the disease, and I remember not understanding why anyone would choose to starve themselves! About a year and a half later, I heard my doctor telling my mom that I had anorexia and I needed help. I was surprised and confused because my condition didn’t match the description that I had heard on the radio.
The “I am not good enough” feeling:
I was never interested in dieting or looking a certain way. I believed that I did not deserve food nor did I deserve to take up space on this planet. I felt useless and never good enough. Even though I was a high achiever at school, I believed that it was all just a coincidence and it would soon be revealed to everyone that I wasn’t good at anything at all.
I wasn’t aware that my first hospital visit would be one of many to follow. Being locked up helped me escape from facing my family, since I believed that I had become a burden to them. This was perfect for my disorder, as it enabled the voice in my head to get louder. Here was another reason for me to believe why I didn’t deserve to exist!
My therapists couldn’t understand that my inability to eat was not about food, body shape or size. Back then nobody recognized the “voice in the head.” I had two voices in my mind, fighting to be heard. I wanted to be a good patient, a good daughter, as well as the best host for my eating disorder. I felt like I could never win.
My biggest achievement was obeying the voice, eating what was ‘allowed’ and thinking about food non-stop.
A shift happened when my Auntie came to visit me. By then nobody cared for me outside of my illness. We discussed things that didn’t concern what I ate or didn’t eat, and she treated me like I was “normal.” This triggered a new hunger inside of me, for a life without the disorder. Her unconditional love planted a seed of hope.
Recovery is a journey and not a destination!
I had a love/hate relationship with my ED. Coming to terms with that toxic relationship empowered me to finally face the disorder head on. It took many years, tears and relapses. I wished someone had told me what recovery looked like, and that all of these experiences were part of the journey. I promised myself that If I were to recover, I would be that person to others - caring, compassionate, and loving. I would always have relentless belief in one's recovery, no matter what.
Recovery is a journey. It’s important to know that obstacles will arise, which will stand in the way of achieving exactly what you wanted, and that is okay. It takes loving yourself in order to accept that you are allowed to fail, and it takes that same fierce love to allow accepting it. Your journey will be full of ups and downs, tears, and laughter. Recovery will likely be the hardest thing you go through, but it will also be the most rewarding thing you achieve.