I’ve written this post four different times now and the tone has changed from draft to draft. I’ve changed my mind a million times over on whether or not I even wanted to post something this week at all. My own struggles with disordered eating and my ongoing recovery aren’t easy topics to cover. But after minutes upon minutes scrolling through photos on instagram sorted by #edrecovery, #edwarriors #balancenotclean, and #eatingdisorder hashtags, I felt like I needed to contribute to the message of this week.
As one of the people who, a couple of years ago, this week helped me in the beginning stages of my recovery, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I love it for the awareness that it brings to eating disorders- but on the other hand, I hate it for reminding me of where I’ve been + what I deal with every day.
On a good day- I feel so free. I still think about food in strange ways, but I don’t worry about it and I don’t care about it to a crazy degree. I eat when I’m hungry and eat what I want. I embrace my body and love it wholeheartedly. Offhand remarks and negative words don’t even make me blink. I look in the mirror and just smile.(source)
But on a bad day. Well. I think about my body every other second (if not every second). I’m so worried about how I look to the outside world that I can’t do my job well and I can’t interact with people around me in a genuine way. ED shows up and whispers horrible things to me about how I’m fat and don’t deserve to eat. I’m worried about the way my clothes fit, what size I am, if I’m gaining weight, and if I’m eating the right things.
But every day, fears and bad thoughts about my body + food linger in the back of my head. It’s not front and foremost, but its always there. It hangs out there- nagging me, pulling me back, and weighing me down (pun not intended). The fact that I devote so much of my brain power to these things is embarrassing- all I can think of is, thank God no one can see in my head- they’d think I was the most vain human on earth. It’s something that I hate myself for- it’s something I feel guilty about- and its something that cripples me. I don’t talk about it with most people. Only a rare few from time to time does it come up (and by come up, I mean overflow out of me in a giant puddle of tears). But it’s there. And it sucks. It’s an emotional burden that I think will be present for many years to come.
I’ve made leaps and bounds since the winter of 2012 when I first admitted that I needed help. And every day since my first appointment with a registered dietitian, I’ve grown and changed and become stronger. It wasn’t easy at first- you’ve all been following me since those darker days- I’m sure you remember. Reading my old posts and food diary entries in filled up moleskin notebooks is really hard. It seems like a different person wrote them. I recognize the voice just enough to know it really was me and to feel sad, for myself, because I can remember just how depressed and scared I was. I can see how frantic and desperate I was in every word and number on the page.This week is a reminder of where I’ve been. And it’s a reminder of the place I’m at today. A place that I’m proud of, but also a place that is still frustrating. I don’t know if recovery really ever ends for a person who has gone through this stuff. Which is frustrating. But its also a reason I’m glad weeks like this exist- to create an even greater web of allies and support system for us all.
I love this week for how it educates those that don’t understand eating disorders. I hope that it can change the views and potential words/actions/statements made by others in regard to people’s appearances and bodies. I hope that it can make public health representatives, those in the pop culture sphere, and anyone with a strong voice in the media- think twice before speaking on issues of diet and “how we should look.” I love this week for its potential to change things for the better.
But most of all, I love this week for its ability to give a voice to anyone who is sitting silent on these issues, but that has something to say. I love it for its ability to save lives, hearts, and minds.All I can hope is that this week gives the people out there who are afraid to say something or reach out for help- courage and strength. You can’t be afraid. I know I felt too ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I had a problem. I know that I shrugged off my behavior and the signs of being underfed that my body was showing as nothing compared to those with “full blown eating disorders.” I compared myself to other women with eating disorders. I thought, I’m not skinny or sick enough to have an eating disorder. Those thoughts and feelings are normal. But those thoughts and feelings aren’t fair to yourself. Stand up for yourself and fight for what you deserve- a healthy body and mind- free from food fears, shame about your body, and meticulous attention to your physical appearance.
At Whole Foods Market, we recently launched a marketing campaign all about our core values. One of the slogans that graced a poster in our store said: treat your body like it belongs to someone you love. It’s something that resonated with my every time I laid eyes on it. It’s become a mantra that I say to myself often.(source)
Keep it wicked healthy.