Increasing awareness of eating disorders, decreasing the stigmas associated with mental illness, and empowering people in all bodies to love and accept themselves.
Making the choice to finally recover
Making the choice to recover was something I had to do for me. My journey with anorexia began when I was only 13 years old. So much of my teenage years I do not remember.
My brain was so starved and I was completely consumed with my eating disorder. In and out of treatment, I cannot tell you how many times I was put in the hospital against my will. I was stubborn, out of control, and dead set on starving away my body. I wanted nothing to do with recovery and the only reason I cooperated when I was in the hospital was so I could get out and starve myself all over again. I hated myself. I hated my body. And I wanted my eating disorder to kill me. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all mental illness with a large portion of those deaths being the result of suicide.
I chose to recover because deep down I knew I wanted more for my life. I was in my early to mid-20s by the time I knew that I needed to recover or I would become a statistic. I wanted a life. For a long time I did not think that having a life was a possibility outside of my eating disorder. I was my anorexia. Learning to live with self-compassion and learn who I was again was vital for me in recovery.
It has been over a decade since my last residential treatment stay. I chose recovery. I continue to choose recovery everyday. Life may not always be easy, but it is always worth it. The pain does not last forever. There is hope. You can heal. Life is what is on the other side of an eating disorder. You can find it too.
How I started with Self-Compassion
Recovering from my eating disorder and self-injury was the hardest thing I have ever done. I look back on my 15-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia and I barely recognize that person today. She was so frail, hopeless, overwhelmed, and desperate. Overcoming my eating disorder, started with learning how to treat myself with compassion. I hated myself. I blamed myself for the OCD, for the rape, and so much more. I could not find a way to treat my present self with compassion.
The last time I was in residential treatment, I was in my early twenties. One of my therapists had me do an exercise where I wrote a letter to my inner child. That was the most powerful exercise I have ever done, and I credit that to the beginning of learning how to treat myself with compassion. I wrote a letter to my 10-year-old self. To the girl who couldn't stop washing her hands. To the girl who didn't understand why she was so afraid of germs and couldn't get the thoughts out of her head. Once I found compassion for her, I was able to find compassion for my 13-year-old self who started starving herself. Then I was able to have compassion on my 18-year-old self who was raped.
Eventually, I was able to see my present self through a different lens.
Self-compassion and self-love are vital in recovery. And I understand that sometimes it's too big of a leap to go from self-hatred to self love. Start with looking at your younger self. Find compassion for that person. Tell her how much you love her. It is possible. There is hope. Healing is completely possible. You are so worthy.