*POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING. THIS POST IS ABOUT AN EATING DISORDER AND A PERSONAL RECOVERY STORY. IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION I AM ABOUT TO SHARE TRIGGERS YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH THEN I SUGGEST YOU HAVE A TRUSTED LOVED ONE READ FIRST TO DETERMNE WHETHER THIS IS APPROPRIATE OR HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR YOU, PERHAPS EVEN READING TOGETHER WOULD FEEL MORE SAFE FOR YOU. ALSO I STRESS I AM NOT A MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALIST, DOCTOR OR NUTRITIONIST AND THE INFORMATION I AM SHARING COMES FROM PERSONAL RESEARCH AND FROM TALKING WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCED THIS ILLNESS AND IS NOW IN RECOVERY. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS AT RISK OR EXHIBITS ANY OF THE BEHAVIOURS LISTED IN YESTERDAY’S POST, I STRONGLY URGE YOU TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE AND ATTENTION.*
From what I have read, eating disorders are often triggered by a need for control and/or a desire for the body to be more socially acceptable. We continue, as a society, to put value on bodies that are slim rather than look at the whole picture. Slim does not equal healthy nor does fat equal unhealthy. Often in the lives of those who are suffering from an ED, their surroundings, living conditions and people are toxic and unpredictable so to regain a sense of order and control over their lives, they resort to extreme eating restrictions or measures to control their weight, much to the ultimate detriment of their health. Today’s recovery story gives hope to others who are ill and I hope it encourages anyone who is sick to seek proper medical attention before it is too late as sadly this is a disease that can kill.
To protect the privacy of the star of the recovery story I will refer to her as Betty. Betty began her eating disorder around the age of thirteen and suffered for two years prior to being hospitalized at the age of 15. At that time (November) doctors told Betty she would not make it to Christmas if she did not seek treatment immediately. This was a very sombre wake up call but Betty thankfully rose to the challenge and has at the age of nineteen found peace in her recovery. She says, “Recovery was difficult but also liberating as I was finally able to eat all the food I loved and had missed.”
For Betty, her eating disorder was not triggered by a desire to lose weight or be skinny but about wanting to be in control over something in a life that felt very out of control. Biological factors, environment, society and seeking coping mechanisms for other mental health disorders all played a role in the onset of her anorexia. She suffered from restrictive anorexia which involves not eating. Purging was not a part of her ED.
“I am learning to accept my new body. I’m not at the loving stage yet but acceptance and indifference is better than hate. It’s ok if you’re not at a body positive point yet. Recovery comes with a lot of changes body wise. Don’t be afraid to outgrow your clothes. You can always buy more and your new body will probably look much better in your new wardrobe.
It’s ok to go above the weight that you are minimally allowed when you are working on restoring your weight. The important thing in recovery is to gain weight and maintain your new habits.
My recovery was rooted in therapy and medication. I didn’t receive a lot of outside support which would have made recovery easier but I did it inspite of the lack of a cheering team. I found comfort in music and keeping an eye on a future where everything would be ok.
Anorexics in general aren’t afraid of food but rather of the weight gain and implication that they are once again losing control. I learned how to eat intuitively, eating what I wanted, when I wanted with no restrictions. Today I am eating so many new foods that before I didn’t like or was afraid to eat. I don’t restrict my eating ever! I don’t exercise fanatically but enjoy moving my body simply for fun like going for a walk with my partner in our local park and enjoying the sun on my face and the hand of my love in mine.
I continue to struggle with other mental health issues but I also continue to seek help when I need it. There is no shame in therapy or medication if that is what you need to be better. I see a happy future for myself and from that I gather the strength to continue my healing.”
I am personally very proud of this young lady. She’s had a lot of things happen in her life that would make giving up very easy but she has persevered and while life continues to throw curve balls, she is learning to handle her problems one at a time with optimism and strength. She is an advocate for herself and a great inspiration to anyone in similar circumstances. Her willingness to share her story is brave and I’m sure very helpful to anyone who is suffering from an ED or mental health disorders.
While Betty may not feel Pretty, Plus and Proud yet and is only at the very beginning of her body positive journey, I have no doubt she will some day not just accept herself but truly come to a point of loving the body that has fought hard to stay alive and propel her into the happy future she envisioned for herself.
*Final instalment of this eating disorder series will be tomorrow so don’t forget to check it out.*