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When I Realized I Hadn't Been (Truly) Committing to My Eating Disorder Recovery

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“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole stair case.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Although I’ve struggled with disordered eating and hated myself for as long as I can remember, it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. Flash forward to now, the summer after I’ve graduated college, and for the first time ever, I’ve made the conscious decision to fight back.

I’ve been in and out of treatment. The past three summers have robbed me of spending time with friends or gaining internship and work experience. Instead, I’ve been sent to residential programs, day programs, and outpatient programs. This week was the week I said no more.

During a meeting with my therapist, it hit me: it’s either taking a leap of faith and trying this thing they call recovery or it’s going back to treatment. Treatment for the fourth time? Treatment as I’m about to enter the “real world,” get a job, and one day, start a family? No thank you. This week was the weekend I realized there was more to life than the misery of my eating disorder. This week was the week I realized what I had been doing for the past four years hadn’t been working for me. So why not take a chance on recovery? Surely, it couldn’t be worse than this.

For a long time, I thought living with my eating disorder was the better way to live. It was like living with the devil I knew. It was familiarity. It was comfortable (kind of). It was what I was good at. But then again, who wants to be “good” at having an eating disorder?

So this week I committed to following a meal plan for 30 days. My therapist told me to think of it as a “diet” I used to follow for a month. Of course, desperate to lose weight, I’d do that. So why not try this? A different kind of diet. A healthy kind of diet.

It’s been two full days since I’ve started the meal plan. I am constantly full. Full of food, full of anxiety, full of self-doubt. There’s physical pain, mental pain, and lots (I mean, lots) of tears. There’s daily — sometimes hourly — texts to both my therapist and nutritionist complaining, explaining that I just can’t do this.

But then, as if by miracle, the pain passes. The guilt lessens. The reassurance and confidence from my support system begins to slowly live within me. That misery is replaced with strength, empowerment, hope, and a yearning for a better life.

It’s certainly not easy. Every morning I wake up, I have to make the decision to eat. I have to make the decision to give recovery a try. I have to promise myself to withstand the pain, the torment, and the sadness, trying to believe there are better days ahead.

Today is day three. Three out of 30, a tenth of the way there. The road ahead seems never-ending; I continuously doubt whether or not I can actually do this. I don’t know what will happen in 30 days. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. I do know, though, that today I made those decisions. I made the decision to fight, to fuel my body, to nourish my soul, to be kind to myself, and to try my best — even if my best isn’t perfect.

I take it meal by meal, step by step, day by day. And today, today, I choose recovery.

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.

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Thinkstock photo by tixti

Originally published: March 25, 2017
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