my ed story
Throughout all of my pre teens and teenage years, I struggled with body image. In fact, I recall standing in the mirror at about 10 years old, pinching the skin on my stomach and declaring that I was “fat.” I had no idea that negative thoughts like these ones would progress into my adult years, but by the age of 17 I was completely consumed by my eating disorder. I ran track and cross country at my high school and I remember frantically calculating ways to avoid eating full meals before and after practice, lying to my parents that I had eaten before arriving home for dinner. I would scrape by eating the bare minimum and training my body until my “stomach felt flat,” until my parents began to notice that I was shrinking in size and increasingly becoming more unstable. High school was coming to an end and my eating disorder was the driving force behind every lie and self destructive decision I made—I was sabotaging myself without even knowing it. My senior year of high school came and went, and before I knew it, it was time for me to begin my college career at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, a place that was extremely far from where I grew up in Colorado. I was a high school graduate with a seemingly bright future, but absolutely no grip on who I was or how I was destroying myself.
The summer before my freshman year of college my eating disorder was at its all time worst. I hated the way I looked and would spend hours doing cardio in the gym, refusing to allow myself to go above 118 lbs (I am 5’10”) and weighing myself 5+ times per day. My family began to recognize what was going on and started to consult doctors without telling me, each one urging them to get me into treatment as soon as possible. For a long time my parents were frightened to even bring this subject up with me, as it would always end in screaming matches—while I vehemently denied their help (or that anything was even wrong to begin with). I was ultimately forced into treatment that fall—causing me to have to withdraw from the University of Western Ontario and postpone my schooling. I felt extremely isolated, as the rest of my friends were gearing up to begin their first years of college, and I was stuck in a treatment facility for anorexia. At the time, it not only felt impossible to conquer, but I didn't really want to deal with it.
My recovery started off very rough—mostly because I did NOT want to recover. I refused to eat the meals that my treatment team provided to me—screaming and crying every time they would bring me a smoothie that was “too thick” (ask my friends from treatment). Everything set me off, everything made me cry, everyone was “out to get me” and “trying to make me fat.” I sometimes look back on my journal from those first days in treatment and I am completely shocked at who I was then and who I am now. One day (about a month into full time treatment at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver Colorado) something clicked. To this day, I am still unsure what caused that 180 in my mind, but I simply decided that I deserved more and I gave in to the help that was being offered to me. The decision to allow myself the help I needed was—and still is— the best decision I have EVER made.
I’m sitting here writing this after almost 4 full years in recovery (4 years in November), with only a semester left as a pre med student at the University of Colorado Boulder, and it is crazy to think how far I have come. It is crazy to think that at one point, I really wasn't interested in treatment at all and I couldn't foresee a future where food and body image weren’t on the forefront of my mind at all times— I was wrong then. My desire to be healthy and happy eventually had to outweigh my desire to be “skinny,” but that doesn't mean that I don't struggle sometimes. What’s recovery like for me? Recovery isn’t linear. Recovery is having those bad days and picking yourself up anyways and going about your day, being kind to yourself, and then trying again tomorrow. Recovery is letting myself have that fucking cookie—or 5. Recovery is realizing that self care isn’t selfish, and that you deserve to be happy and love yourself no matter what your body “feels” like in that moment. I don't know if eating disorder thoughts will ever disappear completely, but my recovery has given me the tools to handle the good, the bad and whatever comes in between. Mistakes and slip ups are inevitable, but my eating disorder doesn't control the outcome of my future, I do.