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What Sia’s Music Means to Me as Someone in Eating Disorder Recovery

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Let’s face it. Living in recovery from an eating disorder can be on of the hardest things a person can do. In recovery, I learned that when you start to hear those haunting thoughts of your eating disorder “voice,” you should distract yourself. Do anything to take your mind off of what’s going in the back of your head. You do everything you can to distract yourself.

As someone who is extremely busy, I find one of best distractions to be music. Music is powerful and influential. It can change your mood instantly. It can bring you up or tear you down. When I consciously have those eating disorder thoughts, I play songs that remind me of the journey over the past couple years in recovery.

Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Sia. Her voice is empowering. The lyrics are uplifting, powerful and inspirational. I have spent a quite a bit of time in the car lately, driving down to ride horses, which is my one major distraction, with a group in a different state.

I will admit there are days when I relapse. It’s hard. It’s been hard lately not to go down that path. I can’t. I cannot do this to my family or myself. I can’t give up. I won’t give up.

Here are some of my favorite Sia songs that have helped me make it through:

1. “Reaper

This is from Sia’s newest album, “This Is Acting.” This song reminds me of September 16, 2013, when I went to the hospital for an aching in my back that wasn’t going away. Turns out, my kidney’s were failing, which is why my back hurt. My potassium was so low my heart could have stopped at any moment.

The chorus goes like this:

You came to take me away
So close I was to heaven’s gates
But no baby, no baby, not today
Oh, you tried to track me down
You followed me like the darkest cloud
But no baby, no baby, not today

That day, the reaper had come for me. I cannot imagine if I hadn’t gotten that second chance. This song is so upbeat, catchy and powerful.

2. “Unstoppable

The title is self-explanatory. It reminds me I can do anything. I think about my dedication to be best rider I can be and how I won’t stop until I’m at the top. Some days, I think there is hope to get out of this eating disorder. I’ll fight and fight, not giving up because I’m unstoppable when I put my mind over matter.

The chorus goes like this:

I’m unstoppable
I’m a Porsche with no brakes
I’m invincible
Yeah, I win every single game
I’m so powerful
I don’t need batteries to play
I’m so confident, yeah, I’m unstoppable today

3. “Bird Set Free

This is also from the album “This Is Acting.” To me, the chorus sings of self-empowerment. Being a true you, being proud of who you are and not being afraid to let it out. There is a part of the song that speaks so clearly to me: The scream that’s inside. Having a voice but not being able to talk. So many struggle in silence with eating disorders, depression, anxiety and self-doubt. This song takes you through the wanting to speaking out, being afraid to let go and just wanting to try and hide it.

Here is my favorite part of the song:

But there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, we cannot deny
Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive
Yes, there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide
We hold on so tight, but I don’t wanna die, no
I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die

I often find putting this song on repeat. It starts of kind of soft and slow, and then it gets bigger in the chorus. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak out on issues. Let it out. Let others know they aren’t the only ones.

A few of my other favorites from her are “The Greatest” (this song has wonderful lyrics), “Alive,”  “Footprints,” “Space Between,” “Titanium” and “Fire Meet Gasoline.” Let us not forget the song “Cheap Thrills” because you will feel 100 times better after belting out her lyrics, while you dance your heart out.

That is what Sia‘s music is to me: Be yourself. Be true to you and be the best you who you are capable of being, even if it’s in those eating disorder thoughts. Do the best you can. Her music has gotten me away from those eating disorder voices so many times. She also had really great slower songs. So if you turn it on, then do some yoga with it. Turn her music up. She’s so uplifting.

As Sia said in the song “The Greatest,”

Don’t give up, I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no
Don’t give up, I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no

I absolutely love her music. I was lucky enough to see her in concert here in Seattle this year, which was the first concert she did on her tour. I took my 5-year-old daughter, and she dressed like Maddie Ziegler. It was the best experience of both of our lives. I want more than anything for my daughter to grow up knowing she can do anything or overcome anything she puts her mind to.

I also find Sia‘s life story to be interesting. I can feel some connection between alcoholism, prescription drugs and my eating disorder. I wish there was a way to write her and let her know how much she has touched my life and brought me through hard times. Maybe she reads The Mighty? You never know.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Originally published: November 16, 2016
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