When I was 12 you had a lot of control over me, and you took that control at my weakest point. I couldn’t eat without crying and shaking. I couldn’t step on a scale or look in a mirror without breaking down. Calories and fat filled my mind, and gaining weight became my biggest fear.
Anorexia, you took away so much from me — my friends, my health, my happiness and my life. You were very subtle at first, but then you quickly took full control. You are like a demon sitting on my shoulder, constantly bringing me down. Using words, food, the scale, my family and even my own self.
You told me if I was skinny I would be perfect, but didn’t let me know it was an impossible mission. Standing on the scale I cried, standing in front of the mirror I cried. Sitting in front of food put me in complete panic mode. It was never perfection I could reach.
The strive for unreachable perfection took me to some dark places. It brought me a lot of fear, anxiety and sadness. For a long time, I didn’t have hope.
Three years later, at the age of 15, I decided it was time to change. I was tired of living this way. I tried my hardest just to eat and gain weight, but I couldn’t do it. The anxiety was too strong for me to deal with on my own, so I got help from a therapist and a nutritionist. They got me to where I needed to be to gain weight and be OK with it.
At the age of 16 I’m back to a healthy weight, and have been for a week now. And I’m happy. I’m working on becoming more confident and loving my body, but it’s still a work in progress. I still face you every day.
Recovery isn’t easy by any means. You can’t just eat to get better, you have to work through a lot of difficult things. You have to work through each one of your triggers, but do it slowly so it doesn’t make the trigger worse. You have to face foods that give you a lot of fear and anxiety, but you can only do it on really good recovery days. Yes, you have to eat and yes, you have to gain weight, but recovering from an eating disorder is so much more than that: It’s learning not to be afraid of food because you need it to nourish your body. It’s being OK with gaining weight because your body needs a little bit of fat. It’s not being afraid to eat a little cake every once in awhile. It’s learning to be OK with the number on the scale. It’s learning to love your body as it is, and it’s knowing there is life after an eating disorder. Not every day in recovery is perfect, and sometimes you’ll slip into your old ways. But recovery is always getting back up. It’s being strong and choosing recovery, even though it isn’t easy.
Recovery has taught me an important thing: My worst days of recovery are better than my best days of anorexia.
So I chose to beat you, Anorexia, before you beat me. You don’t have control over me. It’s time for me to eat without fear, get on the scale without tears and look in the mirror without breaking down. I will stand a little taller and walk a little straighter, keeping my head held high. Anorexia, you and I are done.
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