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Two years ago, the best word to describe me was afraid. Caught up in anorexia I was afraid of calories, of gaining weight, of being anything less than perfect. Afraid of the birthday cake my mom made for me, of what I saw in the mirror, and of the number on the scale.
Imagine being a 20-something woman graduating from college with so much life and opportunity before her, so much within her to offer the world, so much adventure and dreams to be discovered.
But instead of chasing her passions like her friends are, instead of going on dates and to happy hours, she sits in her room crying. Night after night. She cries because she ate more than a handful of grapes all day or because the gum she chewed was an extra 10 calories, calories she had meticulously counted and re-counted so that she could lose another two pounds by Friday.
This was my life. This is what anorexia looks like.
Fast forward to today, in the middle of my recovery journey. I’m far from perfect, far from the end goal of what they call “remission.” There have been good days and bad days, ups and downs, victories and relapses.
While I still have to fight every day, I’m no longer afraid.
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Because the one good thing to come from my eating disorder is the awareness of how brave and how courageous I can be. How brave and courageous I had to be when my life was at risk.
They say you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. It’s true.
Battling my eating disorder has challenged every fear, every anxiety, every thought.
It’s a disease I didn’t choose, but I did choose recovery.
And the moment I decided to get better was the bravest, proudest moment of my life.
It takes courage to gain weight in a world where every magazine, every blog, every TV show is telling you to lose weight. It takes courage to order late night pizza with your friends, or to drink a mug of decadent hot chocolate in the evening without guilt. And mostly, it takes courage to look at yourself in the mirror, to really look at yourself, and know you are beautiful as you are.
Most people will never understand why I think eating makes me brave.
To them, eating is something as natural as breathing. That’s how it should be.
But to me, eating is a triumph. Every bite I eat, every homecooked meal I enjoy with my family, and every fruity drink I have at girl’s night is a win over my eating disorder. It’s one step closer to living the life I want to have, a life of happiness and joy.
I would be lying if I said I was thankful for my struggle with anorexia. It has been the most trying, difficult, horrible experience of my life, not only for me, but also for my friends and family.
However, my mother taught me to always find the good in life, to always learn from the bad. So, I am not thankful for my eating disorder but I am thankful it revealed my strength, my bravery, my courage. It taught me that if I can survive anorexia, if I can bring myself back from the brink of death, then I can absolutely achieve whatever dreams I have.
That’s the one message I hope to spread to other girls and women struggling with their own eating issues, whether it’s anorexia or bulimia or exercise addiction.
Know how strong you are for choosing recovery, how brave you are for fighting for your life.
Never let anyone undermine that. Two years ago, the best word to describe me was afraid.
Now, the best word to describe me is a warrior. A warrior who is beating the disorder that threatened her life. A warrior who is discovering her passions and dreams. A warrior who is finally becoming the woman she was always meant to be.
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