“In the midst of hate, I found there was in me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was within me, an invincible calm. I realized that throughout it all, that…In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” ~Albert Camus
Trigger Warning: This post discusses Eating Disorders and Recovery
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It is a week, much like its name that raises awareness and works to destigmatize eating disorders. People lobby in Congress so that treatment is more easily accessible. There are panel discussions and support groups and even the Empire State Building gets in on the action changing its colors to call attention to eating disorders.
Roughly thirty million people in the US alone suffer from an eating disorder, whether it is Bulimia, Anorexia, Binge Eating, Addiction to Exercise, and so much more.
Commonly misunderstood as a disease that only affects wealthy teenage girls. In actuality it affects not just women, but also men of all ethnicities and backgrounds. ED’s do not discriminate based on your sex or how privileged you are.
And I am part of that thirty million statistic.
My Eating Disorder
For over ten years, on and off, I suffered predominantly from Bulimia, Binge eating, and addiction to exercise. I also dabbled in Anorexia and all different kinds of distorted eating. Perusing Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia was as normal as checking my e-mails daily. Looking for new tips and tricks to destroy my body and fall even further down the rabbit hole of self loathing.
Like an addict, it consumed me and I counted the minutes until the next binge. Until the next time I could either eat my way through to oblivion, or puke for those few minutes of nothingness. Short lived while it was, the porcelain throne was a comfortable friend who enabled a habit of self loathing.
While yes, body dysmorphia and weight issues were an issue in my family, especially with people I looked up too, my ED wasn’t so much about being skinny, as it was about the false narrative of control I thought I had gained from it.
When it felt like everything else was falling apart, my ED was the one constant that helped me cope. It felt like it was offering stability, when the reality was the exact opposite. Yet, deep in the throws of it, combined with depression and anxiety, I didn’t know or have any other tools to help fight the false illusions and negativity running through my head.
I can honestly say I never thought recovery would be possible. The distorted, ugly, disgusting, monster, I had come to see myself as, the self loathing and hatred I had towards myself had become comfortable. I had become so consumed by my disease, that to think any thing differently was fucking terrifying.
I never thought there would be a day where I would not puke up a meal, or freak out at every tiny little thing I put in my body. I need thought I wouldn’t spend hours upon hours on the treadmill trying to not just burn calories, but also burn the pain away. I never thought I would make it to 30.
I never thought I would be celebrating five years, since my last relapse.
I never thought, because my thoughts had been so dimmed, so consumed, that I couldn’t think, properly. I couldn’t re-write the narrative I had convinced myself was as much a part of me, as breathing was.
But I did.
And so can you.
Recovery is different for everyone. Just like everyone’s rock bottom is different. It isn’t easy. It takes years and so many tears. BUT it IS possible.
When I sought help, my ED had been so ingrained in me for half of my life, I couldn’t imagine anything different. Recovery was almost more terrifying then my disease. How could I say good-bye to something that was comfortable?
Yet it wasn’t a part of me. Not truly. It was an unwanted visitor to the true narrative I wanted to write for myself. I had let it set up shop in my body and I could be the one to say “Bye Felicia.”
It is a choice. A hard one, that isn’t always easy after years of self destruction. Years of a voice telling you, you suck. YOU are NOT enough.
But YOU are. You are enough just as you are. Humans are infallible creatures. We break. But we also rebuild ourselves. That is the incredible beauty. It doesn’t make us weak, It makes us stronger. We rebuild ourselves to be impenetrable forces. That is the beauty. That is the hope. That is the healing and that is where recovery lies.