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5 Ways Eating Disorder Recovery Surprised Me

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When I was 16 to 18 years old I had anorexia. The factors that went into why and how are long and semi-convoluted. And my journey through recovery is the same. After almost three years of living with my eating disorder, and just over three years of my recovery, I have learned many things I might never have realized. I have had to teach myself how to view the world as a good thing that I get to be a part of, and how to find joy and humor in the little things around me.

So here are my five things. Not the only five, but the main five that I remind myself of when I struggle.

1. I don’t feel sick every day.

Amazing that once you stop depriving your body of nutrients, it in turn, will stop sending natural warning signals that it is unwell. I had convinced myself that taking a multivitamin for my first two meals of the day was equal to taking proper self-care. Newsflash: it’s not.

2. I have to poop so much.

Tracking what goes in and out of my body was a daily routine for me. And it would make sense that when I started eating more, I would have to use the bathroom more. So now that I am up to a relatively healthy weight, and you know, actually eating, it shouldn’t have surprised me that I had daily bowel movements. And yet, I was, and still sometimes am surprised.

3. I don’t need to rest all the time.

Again, amazing that once I started caring for my body, it would start to care for me in return. I now have the strength to work a full day. To walk a few miles and not need a nap after. I have the energy and the stamina to actually live my life now.

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4. I can actually enjoy my food.

Now that I am re-learning how to eat, it’s been a nice surprise to also re-discover some of my favorite foods. Pizza, and Indian food. Mushroom ravioli, and french fries. Foods I hadn’t let myself eat before, but I now love like long-lost friends.

5. My body isn’t and never will be perfect.

As cliche as it may be to say now, I love my body, flaws and all. My stomach isn’t totally flat, my thighs now touch, and I have purple stretch marks on my ass. But you know what? My body is stronger now than it was before. I don’t feel and look sick. My thighs are beautiful, and those stretch marks are proof that I actually have an ass.

My anorexia journey isn’t like everyone else’s, but it is mine. While I may not be proud that the journey started in the first place, I am proud of where I am now considering where the path traveled. I didn’t get through this alone however, my sister has been and still is a huge support for me. The path wasn’t totally miserable, there are always bright spots in any life, and I had my share of happy moments. My experience was not textbook, and I don’t think anyone should go through this. but for those of us who have and come out the other side alive, we remember the pain and we remember the ones who did not survive.

I don’t think I will ever have a normal relationship with food or my weight, but I can try. And I am happy where I am. From here, I am taking life one day at a time, and I will continue to keep looking for the bright spots.

Getty image by Ponomariova_Maria

Originally published: November 15, 2020
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