Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I am quick to share how my eating disorder of 10 plus years nearly destroyed my life. I am one of the biggest advocates in spreading knowledge about the dangers of these life threatening diseases. I have absolutely no shame in sharing the lifelong ramifications that resulted from my behavior. I do all of these things to spread awareness about just how dangerous theses diseases are (According to the American Psychiatric Association, eating disorders are the most deadly mental illness. You read that, right-most deadly).
Something you won’t hear me share much about, however, is what my eating disorder gave me. DISCLAIMER: This post is, in NO way, glorifying or supporting disordered eating. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of work centered around getting in touch with different, “parts,” of myself. I’ve looked back on my life & seen how old behaviors served me in those particular moments. Which led to this post……….
What My Eating Disorder Gave To Me:
- A new appreciate for life. There’s nothing like sitting on a cold examination table in a paper gown listening to a doctor tell you that, if you don’t change the way you’re living, you won’t be living much longer. I was 18 years old & nine years into an off and off relationship with my ED. I had the typical teenage attitude to danger. The belief it just wasn’t relevant to me & I was somehow untouchable. After failing a blood pressure test that showed my body was doing much of the same, I no longer held those beliefs. Upon further testing, it was discovered that my heart had a collapsed valve & I needed medication because my heart does not beat as fast as other people. There is no repairing it. Due to those things & more, I started to realize that no person, despite their age, is any less vulnerable to the inevitable. After nearly losing my own life, I lost a friend to the clutches of this disease. She was 22 years old when she died. She, like the rest of us, was not infinite.
- It helped me grow. I grew up a lot faster than the majority of my friends. While this happened for a variety of reasons, my eating disorder was a major game changer here as well. For one, it put me in therapy that I very much (obviously) needed. This was the first time in my life I gained a new lens into several parts of my life-past & present. I was given the opportunity to focus on myself, my wants & needs, for at least an hour or so a week.
- I (now) know my limits & body ques. After 10 plus years of literally starving myself & working out to the point of pure exhaustion, knowing my limits & body ques wasn’t exactly something I knew how to do.
- Calories are a good thing! If you’d told me this while I was in the midst of my own personal hell, I would’ve given you the deer in the headlight stare. I would’ve thought you were, quite literally, insane. Calories were bad, they were the root of all evil after all…..or so I thought. After two years with my nutritionist, I am still working towards ideal eating. I’ve moved mountains along the way, viewing calories as fuel & energy to accomplish all the things I love is definitely one of my favorites!
- You are more than your jean size. Again, if you would’ve dared uttered this to me a few years ago, I’d have thought you insane! That was my life. My constant goal. I was wearing double zeros & children’s clothing that, disturbingly, confirmed I was succeeding at something…since recovery, I can now walk into stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, find a few jeans my size (as they typically only carry sizes 00-6) and not give a damn about the number that just so happens to mold my body. I won’t lie to you, there are days that I do care. There are days that I wonder why certain stores no longer carry my size…most days, however, I know in the deepest part of me that I am not overweight. I’m a normal, healthy size…nothing is wrong me, there’s a lot wrong with certain stores.
- Labels are liars! Through all my years of disordered eating, I legitimately believed fat free & low fat labels were a life saver! I lived on weight watchers cakes, Lean Cuisine meals & the like. And ya know what? I wasn’t healthy. A far cry from it. One of the first things my nutritionist told me was to STOP buying foods that had this plastered on them! Initially, I thought it was because she wanted me to gain weight. Knowingly, she was quick to inform me in her next statement that she believed no one should buy these foods. Fat free, non fat, & low fat are not always good, friends!
- Your life doesn’t get any better after losing X amount of pounds. I think anyone, those who’ve had an eating disorder & those who haven’t, is guilty of believing this at some point in their lives. “My life will be so much better if I just lose _____ pounds!” Spoiler alert: my life never got any better. My eating disorder, while it did numb me out to certain things happening in my life during different times, did not resolve any of those issues. Not one bit.
What are some of the lies your eating disorder told you? What did you gain?
Below is a link of a fabulous fundraising project. The friend I mentioned who lost her life had a love for shoes I’ve never before seen in anyone else. She had over 200 pairs. As she also struggled with an eating disorder for many years, she loved shoes because, “Your shoe size is something you’re born with, not something that can be changed. She loved being able to accessorize a part of her body that had nothing to do with weight.”
Her family has now donated the shoes to be sold in order to raise money for Project Heal. All proceeds will go toward funding scholarships for those not able to afford treatment. If you’re looking for a wonderful cause to donate to, or just need some retail therapy, check it out!