I made an awesome realization the other day. I realized that I do not even think about my eating disorder anymore. Somewhere after it not being an option it became not even a thought. I can honestly say I do not think about my eating disorder anymore...theres no more voice in the back of my head telling me I can't do it. The only voice in my head right now is my own and the only direction I take in life is from God. It feels so incredibly amazing and freeing to be able to say that and truly mean it. I remember when I was just starting treatment I wanted proof, proof that you could recover from this disorder. I wanted to see someone with my own eyes who could say "I dont think about my eating disorder anymore" or even better "I don't have an eating disorder anymore" I used to ask my therapists all the time, don't you know anyone?! I finally did see it with my own eyes in October at the NEDA walk in NYC, Jenny Schaefer stood on the stage and said the words I had been waiting to hear, that she did not have an eating disorder anymore.
So my story? I have been dealing with the degrading voice of my eating disorder since I was four years old, when I looked at Kristi Yamaguchi skating on the ice and thought about how badly I wanted to twirl on the ice. I then told myself that I was much bigger than the girls on the ice and because of that I would never be able to figure skate.
I've always been a perfectionist and I've always had big dreams...and behind all that I always had the voice of my ED. When I was in middle school everything I ever knew fell apart; My great grandmother died, I moved an hour away from the city I was raised in and my once tightly knit family unraveled. I am and always will be a very family oriented girl so these events were a major blow to me. That was when the voice manifested itself with symptoms. In high school, even struggling with an ED I was successful; I did theatre, I was a cheerleader, I had a good group of friends and I did great in school. It was almost like the better I did the worse I got. A traumatic event in my junior year of high school only made things worse. Then going away to college was when I really started to fall apart and by october of my sophomore year I was forced to take a medical leave of absence to get treatment for my eating disorder if I still wanted to be considered a student.
I was young and wasn't really sure what to do in treatment...I also wasn't sure if I wanted to be there. I decided to do what I liked to do in life, yes everybody to death and say "I know" when yes wasn't appropriate. Anything to get me out in the fastest amount of time, because of this I found myself back at home six weeks later and when asked what I learned all I could deliver was a blank stare. As a result, I ended up going through treatment all over again a few months later, and still after returning from that program I wasn't able to return to school. So, I started to work, I got a little job at the mall at a pet store working with puppies. This job made me so happy, animals are a big part of my life and I loved being able to be around them everyday. I eventually advanced to a key holder, and then a manager in training and in April of 2008 I was promoted to manager of the store and I hadn't even worked there a year. I was ecstatic, I felt like good things were finally starting to happen again. However, I was still wrestling with my eating disorder and a week after my promotion I had a meltdown outside of my house that nearly ended up with me in the hospital. My nutritionist said my brain was starved and that I needed to seek treatment. Again. I was furious, I needed to put my life on hold again to go into treatment. First I had to leave mid semester in college and now I had to tell my boss who had just promoted me that I needed to leave. That anger ignited something in me.
How many times am I going to have to put my life on hold for my eating disorder? How many more people in my life do I have to lose? How many more things that I love will I have to give up? How many more times do I need to look around and realize I've lost control of myself? Its time to take this seriously. With that I started the search, I needed to find the right place for me. My insurance would only cover a place in Florida I had never heard of. I walked into Canopy Cove with blind faith that they would help me help myself, this was going to be the last time. It was the hardest nine weeks of my life but I always say I found my heart there. I did so much hard work and learned so much about myself and what I'm capable of. They also taught me how to live, really LIVE. How to laugh and be silly and have fun. I learned that I love to swing on the swings, that I could get lost laying in the grass looking at the sky for hours at a time, that playing and doing cartwheels in the rain is A LOT of fun. Most importantly I learned that I am not my eating disorder and that I exist without it, that when people get to know the real me they won't run screaming...and that the real me can be a pretty cool girl.
I left Canopy Cove with a renewed zest for life and hope unlike anything I'd ever felt. I went back to school and the pet store, then eventually left the pet store and am now working at an animal hospital and working towards a degree to become a veterinary technician. I have always had a passion for writing and I'm so glad to have the opportunity to write again and to also be able to share my experiences to help others.
I am so glad that the I Chose to live movement was created, it is so powerful and so inspiring and I am so happy that I can be involved. Recovery is possible. We just have to rock the swagger ;)
"But when the night is falling and you cannot find the light, If you feel your dream is dying hold tight, You've got the music in you. Don't let go, You've got the music in you. Don't give up, You've got a reason to live"