To the Person Starting Treatment for Your Eating Disorder

Hello, friend. First of all, I’d like to say I’m proud of you. Whether you’re adamant that you don’t have a problem and are being persuaded into this, or you’re finally realizing something isn’t right and you can’t handle it on your own, you’re here reading this. That’s one step closer than where you were yesterday to a life of freedom. Pride yourself in that.

I know how you may be feeling right now. Hell, you’re probably feeling more emotions all at once than you ever have before in your life. That’s OK. It’s normal. As of now, recovery is something unknown; it’s terrifying. You’re feeling scared, nervous, excited, hopeful and confused all at once. Your eating disoder has been a way to cope with all these feelings, and now you’re stepping into uncharted territory where you have to find new pathways to deal with life. You don’t know if you’re ready to tackle this. I’m here to tell you that you are.

I’m not going to lie; recovery is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. Whether you’re in outpatient, inpatient, or anything in between, the eating disorder has to go. You’re going to be talking about things, perhaps horrific, tragic things that you’ve been to ashamed or afraid to talk about before, that aren’t always going to be pleasant. You’re going to look deep within to discover why you’ve clung to this faulty life preserver for so long, while at the same time learning to give yourself grace because this is an illness, and it’s not your fault. You’re going to learn how to have a healthy relationship with food, and in time, will realize a slice of cake won’t be the end of the world.

There’s going to be times when you want to give up. It’s going to be difficult, uncomfortable, and you’re probably going to want to throw your hands in the air and say, “Fuck this.” The eating disorder seems so much easier. It’s comfortable. It’s easy to limit your intake, purge or eat until you feel like you’re literally going to explode than face your demons. You’d rather be numb and dying than doing this work. Don’t give in to that voice.

In time, you’re going to start noticing changes — small at first, but as you move farther along, you’ll see how much progress you’ve made. It might be hard to deal with, but there’s a small part of you that will be proud of yourself. Cling to that part with everything you can. You’re going to have an amazing support system behind you. It may be small, it might be large, but either way, it’s mighty, and everyone in it knows you can beat this and is ready to help you get there. They will celebrate every victory with you, or be there for you with lapses (which will happen, it’s normal!). Utilize them; they’re more valuable than you can realize.

You can beat this. Whether treatment takes months or years, a day will come when your eating disorder’s voice may be nothing more than a faint whisper, if you hear it at all. You can realize your worth and discover you deserve so much more than living like you were before. That day might seem impossible or too far away, but, my dear, it is possible.

You can do this, warrior. You are not alone. I have faith in you. 

Go kick some ED ass.


Someone who’s been in your shoes.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

yoga map that says "hope"

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Eating Disorders

How a Google Search and a 3-Minute Test Saved My Life

Growing up, and honestly still to this day, people would say, “You’re always so happy!” or “How are you always so energetic?” The truth is, I hated when people would say that. Underneath my cheery exterior was a deep dark self-hatred about my body and my personality. In my mind, I had no worth. These [...]

I’m Recovering From an Eating Disorder and No One Knows It

There aren’t many things worse for a 24-year-old perfectionist-young professional than depleting your sick leave, dropping out of a competitive graduate program and leaving your students, all of whom are impacted by significant disabilities, in the middle of a school year. But that’s what happened when after an 11-year struggle with anorexia, I was admitted [...]

What I Had Wish I Had Known Before My Daughter Developed an Eating Disorder

Early intervention. The phrase can sound like a negative judgment to a parent whose child has been in treatment for an eating disorder for multiple years. The mind returns to the time when clues appeared and wonders anxiously, “What if I had done x or y? Would I have stopped the eating disorder? If I had been more [...]

Watch People Respond to ‘You Don’t Look Like You Have an Eating Disorder’

An eating disorder is a mental illness that doesn’t discriminate. In the United States, eating disorders affect 20 million women and 10 million men from all races and classes. Each person is affected differently, and — despite the stereotype of the “too-skinny” teenage girl — more than one type of eating disorder exists, and they’re not always obvious. So why do [...]