From Hopeless to Hopeful

I spent 13 years of my life chasing a moving target. I thought once I reached the first goal I would feel worthy, I would feel accepted, maybe then I wouldn’t be a burden..... However as most things in life not everything is what it seems, and what I failed to recognise is that chasing a moving target will never bring fulfilment and satisfaction. How can you be satisfied when the goal is always changing ? What I thought was gonna bring me happiness ending up in misery, and completely loosing myself for nearly 13 years.

This is my story of battling anorexia.

I thought all I wanted to do was be “healthier”. Behind the moving target of “healthier” was my eating disorder. Waiting to swallow me whole...and boy did it completely and totally consume me. What started out as wanting to be “healthy” turned into this cycle to punish myself because I didn’t feel worthy enough to be loved, to be accepted as I was. I with my whole heart believed that who I was wasn’t enough. So how did I cope with it ? Starving myself, running that extra mile even though my body was begging me to stop. Eating disorders LOVE to minimise the severity of the situation. Your life is based on the sentence “I’m Fine”...... but I was fooling nobody but myself. Despite the concerns, and comments that were being brought to my attention I was always quick to respond with “ Im Fine”, “I already ate”. You name an excuse, I thought of it.

Who I was, hated who I had become. My eating disorder made me a person I wasn’t, I spent my preteen-young adult life living in accordance with how my eating disorder wanted me to live. I spent over 12 years living in denial of my own reality. It took me getting told that somebody didn’t see me living till the end of the year before I took action to get help.

Thats when I realised things might not be okay. I was living in a place of hopelessness, fear, self hatred and denial. I just thought I was meant to have an eating disorder, and I got to a point where I didn’t care where it took me....even if it meant it could kill me.

A few months later I was admitted to a residential treatment center. Remember how I said eating disorders cause you to be blind to your own reality? Yah I thought I was gonna be done with treatment in 2 months TOPS. I thought I would go there be cured and I could go back to my life. BOY WAS I WRONG. I had no idea that I would spend the next 19 months in treatment.

My body went into flight or fright mode anytime I was presented with food. There were many times where I told myself I couldn’t do it, I didn’t wanna have to deal with another panic attack so I would listen to my disorder. I didn’t want to have to deal with the mental abuse my eating disorder put me through anytime I complied and followed my meal plan. However each time there was some part of me that always wanted recovery. Because each time I told myself that I couldn’t do this, and that I didn’t want to do this anymore; I proved myself wrong. I showed up, I stood back up and fought harder each time.

I know first hand that recovery is not linear. I had my slips and had to get sent up in levels of care but with every step up and step down I showed up in a different way each time. I got louder and I got stronger. When I finally was able to discharge intensive treatment and start my outpatient journey the amount of pride I felt in myself was unreal. I couldn’t believe the transformation I had made. I went from living in a place of hopelessness and fear to living with hope for my future. I finally actually LOVE my life, I love who I am becoming and this life I am creating for myself. People often at the start of their recovery journey fear giving up their disorder because they don’t know who they are without it, and I wouldn’t say I feared who I was without it. I just legitimately had no sense of who I was. I thought I was put on this earth to suffer the life that comes consumed by my illness. However for the first time in 13 years I finally feel like this was who I was always supposed to be. I feel like the final puzzle piece inside me has been put together. I am finally me, I feel true joy and happiness for the first time since I was a kid. Its a feeling I never wanna give up for a life that brings me nothing but a chase for something that only ends in death.

For anyone out there struggling with any mental illness just know that you are not alone, your diagnosis does not define you.. You are not what your eating disorder says you are. You deserve the life you want, you deserve to feel real and raw joy and happiness. No matter how hard it gets please please please my friend DO NOT GIVE UP. It does not matter how many times your eating disorder tries to knock you down what matters most is how many times you get back up ready to fight back stronger and louder than you did before. Recovery is so worth it, I didn’t think it was ever going to be achievable for me and I am here today to say

I’ve been where you are and life is so much more beautiful on the other side. You just have to keep up the good fight, no matter how loud the disorder gets. Because another one of my favourites quotes is “things scream when they are dying” so if your eating disorder is getting louder that means YOU are getting stronger.

This week is NEDAwareness and this years theme “come as you are” really resonates with me because for many of us, eating disorder or not we strive to fit the mould of how society and the media think we “should” be: what job we “should” have, how we “should” look, what we “should” and “shouldn’t’ eat. It’s time to take off the masks we hide behind because the unfiltered, authentic, genuine, and real YOU is perfectly imperfect. One of my favourite quotes is by the one and only Brene Brown and she says “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging”. So lets show up as we are, lets stop chasing the should’s we think we need to be in life and lets show up and say “ This is me. This is who I am and I’m proud of it.”

This is me, this is who I am and I’m proud of it”