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My name is Heather and I am free from Extremes!
I have always been a perfectionist.
This was often a good quality. I excelled in school and got good grades, but there were signs that being an all or nothing person wasn’t always a good thing. School came easily to me; however, when it came to other things like sports or learning a musical instrument, I panicked when I wasn’t immediately excellent at them and the fear of being mediocre prevented me from trying to get better. I had very few hobbies or extra-curricular activities because I became so frustrated with myself I gave up.
Needless to say, this proved to be a pattern in my life, one I had to fully confront when I was in university. In high school I gained some weight and found it difficult to lose. As a test for myself, I began to see if I could go all day without eating and, if I managed this feat, I would reward myself with comfort food. This horrible cycle began my eating disorder.
I lost the weight pretty easily, but found it difficult to stop.
I became obsessed with the number on the scale. My target weight was no longer good enough. I ached to see the number lower. The euphoria losing weight gave me was only outweighed by the crushing sadness I felt if I gained a pound.
Soon, what I ate and how much I weighed consumed my every thought. I was constantly hungry and irritable and weighed myself up to 20 times a day. With this obsession taking up so much space in my brain, there was hardly any room left for school work, though I managed as best as I could.
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A social life was out of the question. Going out with friends meant eating junk food and binge drinking, which I had already been warned by the entire universe would make me gain the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. I completely isolated myself.
My turning point was when I fainted in the student center of my school.
Although not completely ready to change my ways, I was willing to try.
I met with a counselor on campus who changed my life. She introduced me to the idea of Intuitive Eating, which involves listening to our body’s cues — when it is hungry and when it is full — and using that as an indicator of when and what we should be eating.
Intuitive Eating eliminated the concept of “good” foods and “bad” foods. Labeling a certain food as “bad” only made me feel like a bad person when I ate it. This is an incredibly unhealthy thought process. I needed to learn how to separate food from my identity and self-worth.
The most important thing my counsellor taught me was balance.
My all or nothing attitude had paralyzed me for so long I didn’t even know how to be a healthy, functioning person anymore.
I would bemoan the fact I hadn’t been to the gym in ages and how awful I felt because of it. In my mind, if I couldn’t go every single day for at least two hours, what was the point of going at all? Slowly, I began to understand how crazy this way of thinking was. Going to the gym twice a week was not a failure.
I refused to lose any more time. My world, which I had made so small, slowly began to expand. I was able to allow myself the opportunity to experience everything I had denied myself for so long. I joined clubs, made amazing friends, went out to bars, and had fun just like anyone else my age would do.
The biggest thing I did was study abroad in England for a year. This forced me out of my comfort zone in a million different ways. It was the happiest time of my life. Allowing myself to truly embrace every aspect of that adventure was the best gift I ever could have given myself.
Life before I began to recover from my eating disorder and life after could not be more different.
I was in a weird state of arrested development, paralyzed with fear and unable to move on with my life. It’s as if I was living in black and white and now my world is filled with color.
The opportunities in front of me are endless. I know I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I still have my bad days and I still have to catch myself when I start to repeat old habits, but I am conscious of them now and can recognize them as irrational.
The biggest change is that I am kind to myself now.
I refuse to criticize myself anymore for not being an idealized, “perfect” version of myself. I treat myself the way I would treat any of my other friends because I know now it is what I deserve.
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The opinions and information shared in this article may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process.