By: Meagan D.
Today I decided to take a trip down memory lane and rummage through some old boxes. Among other things, I unpacked tons of holiday cards, a deflated birthday balloon, swimming goggles, and some pretty embarrassing pictures. But what stuck out most to me were the journals I found, and reading back through the entries affected me deeply.
In 2008 (high school) I was in the middle of a raging eating disorder, but I would have never admitted to it at the time. Balancing tough classes, bullying from peers, a part-time job, and a lot of insecurities…my “diet” kept me feeling in control and numb to my emotions. Instead of writing about the problems I was facing, my journal reflects nothing but a desire to “lose more weight and be happy”. One direct quote from my journal was “this is my last fat year”.
In 2010 (college), I spent a year completing my undergraduate honors thesis. I worked as a resident assistant, an orientation team leader, and I was a nanny four nights a week. My classes were challenging, but I managed to score A’s in all of them. Looking back, I remember a lot of proud moments and accomplishments. Rather than highlighting these successes, the majority of my journal discusses my progress in weight loss. It discusses calories, foods eaten (and not eaten), work outs completed, what “happiness” will look like when I am “thin enough”. One direct quote from my journal was “this is my last fat year”.
In 2012, I was getting ready to graduate from college and move into the big-girl world. Taking on a new career, my first apartment, and a puppy…I was nervous but also excited. I had been through treatment for my eating disorder, and had years of intensive outpatient counseling, and I was ready to take recovery into my own hands. During this time, I wrote a lot about the promise of a fresh start; the eagerness to be on my own and start a life free from the eating disorder that held me hostage. I also wrote about how I didn’t feel ready to recover, I was definitely “not thin enough yet”. I wrote about how much BETTER life would be, how much MORE I could accomplish, if only I was “a lower weight”. One direct quote from my journal was “this is my last fat year”.
While I still have a long way to go, I am pleased to say that I am currently in a much better place with my recovery. I am working on discovering who I am outside of my eating disorder, on accepting my flaws and loving myself despite them. For the most part, I am happy. Unfortunately at times, I find myself thinking and writing the same things as above. Whenever I let “wise-mind” take a break, I find that my eating disorder voice tries to creep back in, promising me a happier life, more victories, if only I could lose just a few more pounds.
The truth is…my eating disorder lies. There will never be a number that will satisfy me, there will never be a number that can solve all my problems or make me love myself more. If I were to lose more weight, it would never be enough. My eating disorder cheated me out of applying to graduate school, maintaining a healthy relationship, spending time with my friends, being fully present during my time with loved ones. Looking back, I regret the dinners I skipped, the lattes I didn’t enjoy, and the events I passed up because I was afraid to be around food or people. My eating disorder cheated me out of a normal life.
Even in recovery, there are times I “miss” my eating disorder. There are times I consider taking it back. Thankfully, I am able to remind myself how much I have GAINED (other than weight) from letting my eating disorder go. I remind myself that in 5 or 10 years I don’t want to look back at this time and regret things I did (or didn’t do) because of my eating disorder. I want to live freely; I want to find happiness and success on my OWN terms. Re-reading my journal entries, I remember times of darkness, of not being able to see a way out. I wish to one day reach out to others who are struggling; to tell them that recovery IS possible. It is not an easy battle to fight, and you have to want it and work at it every day. You have to fully trust in your treatment providers; you can’t ever give up. You have to believe in yourself. In the end, I hope that other warriors like me will be able to look back and realize how much stronger, healthier, and happier they are without their eating disorders. I am proud of my story, my recovery, and the person I have fought to become today!