This picture was taken 3 years ago during the summer when I was officially diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. Despite the smile, I was unhealthy and broken. However, I had been battling Ed (my eating disorder) long before I ever knew what Anorexia was. Growing up, perfectionism was my biggest struggle. If I couldn't do something perfectly, I didn't want to do it at all. However, food didn't become my enemy until about eighth grade. I remember a small voice in the back of my head that started to say, "You need to run more to lose weight" and "You don't really need to eat that". But these voices were foreign to me up until the end of my junior year. That's when Ed, my abusive, evil, filthy, eating disorder arrived in full force.
On that same diary entry, I mentioned the word, "darkness". So it seems fitting that if I could pick a word to sum up my experience with Anorexia it would be darkness. My whole life was dark. I was trapped in a dark room and I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how hard I tried. It was there (I would later realize) but I couldn't see it. I was in a temporary prison cell and was a slave to my eating disorder. I listened to every word Ed told to me. The phrases, "You're too fat to deserve food." "You need to be thin otherwise you'll lose all your friends." "You are unworthy", haunted me. These thoughts played like a broken record in my mind. Rudely reminding me that I wasn't good enough, and I wouldn't be until I was as thin as the models on the runway. I would wake up depressed and extremely anxious and yet would go to school with a smile on my face. That's how society does it right? You shove your problems into the attic or under the rug and you don't deal with them. Your pain is there, but you need to "get over it" so you pretend it's gone. (WRONG) This was the life I lived for a long, long time. I was living a double life when Ed came into my life. When I went to school, I tried to be the me that I was before Ed came along. I tried to force myself to be happy, helpful, responsible and focused but I struggled. I put on a pretty good facade, but I fooled no one. I had lost an extreme amount of weight in 3 months and I was distant and everyone noticed. And yet, when I was at home I gave in fully to Ed. I allowed him to manipulate my mind and to ruin my relationships with my friends and family. Every single night for dinner was an argument with my mom. I would yell at my mom for making me eat food and for not letting me starve. Ed made me damage my relationship with my mom because she hated Ed, and Ed didn't like that. Perfectionism and Ed consumed me. If I ate during the day, my ED made me believe that I was a disappointment and I had failed. Along with struggling with perfectionism and fear, I wanted control. I felt my life spinning out of control, and Ed lied and told me that with him I could gain full control back. All I had to do was lose 20 pounds and then my life would be good again....WRONG (again. ed was always wrong). So many marvelous, amazing and loving people were fighting for me and I was giving up. I was slowly killing myself and I didn't care. Ed made me a different person. He made me give up everything in order to keep him. He made me lose a lot of things. I lost motivation and genuine joy. I was purging on exercise to the point of unconsciousness. A clear sign of my body and heart failing. I lost relationships. My friends and family are the most important thing in the world to me, and yet Ed was making me choose him over them. I lost my ability to concentrate. I specifically remember having a conversation with the secretary at my school and not being able to form full sentences because my brain was so malnourished. I walked up to her, started to speak, and couldn't remember what I had wanted to ask her. Ed made me lose self-respect. Because of that, he made me engage in self-harm. I was cutting myself because I felt so unworthy and broken. Ed told me laxatives were a good idea because once people made me eat, I would still need a way to cop out. Ed was manipulative and told me to cheat the system, so I did. Even though my therapist, my school counselors, my doctor, my mom, my best friend, my nutritionist and SO many others told me not to, I did it anyways. But above all of the things that Ed made me lose, Ed made me lose hope. I feel like hope is almost ingrained in our system. We grow up and we learn to hope. We have hope for the little things and the big things in our life. And so when that hope is taken away, life becomes confusing and similar to a traffic jam. You're stuck and you don't know what to do. But as much as I believed hope was gone, I can promise you HOPE IS REAL. Hope is real. Recovery is real. And love is real. Deep, deep inside I was crying out for help. And thankfully, people answered.
I believe fully that God stays with us through our hardest battles. He is the giver of all hope and shows us and promises us that HOPE IS REAL. He showed His faithfulness and gracious love to me through the village of people He gave to me during this time. Jesus allowed me to see a small glimmer of light and hope through certain people. My therapist, my mom, my school counselors and my best friend being just a small few of them. This light led me through. Although, I would fall a countless amount of times, and I would relapse several more times, this village of mine pushed me through. Because this village of mine believed in hope. They believed fully that hope was real and recovery was possible, and soon I would too.
(shoutout to all of the people that stayed by my side during my battle with Ed. even though I'm recovered now, they continue to be my village.)
I can honestly say I am recovered now. Praise God. That is not saying that I haven't struggled within this year, I have. But now I believe in hope and I pick myself up and continue to fight. My struggle and abusive relationship with Ed wasn't over with a click of a switch as it may seem through this blog post. It was hard. Truly the hardeset thing I have ever fought in my whole entire life. But I fought. I fought because I had people who taught me how and a God who pulled me through. I don't tell this story to gain attention for myself but rather to gain attention for eating disorders. To those of you who are struggling right now with loving your self, low self-esteem, with an eating disorder, or with anything else, I can make you this promise: You can do this. You are strong and you are a fighter and this is just a temporary struggle. Hope is just as real for you as it was for me. You're a fighter and I believe in you.