Making the decision to get help for my eating disorder may have been one of the toughest decisions I have had to make in my recovery journey. I had experienced years of on and off restricting and “healthy” eating. Exercise had slowly worked its way up to a major, controlling aspect of my life. It had all happened so gradually, that all my thoughts and behaviors had seemed normal at the time. It’s normal to diet and its normal to hate our bodies…I let this belief become a reason to isolate and cut myself off from the treatment available to me.
There are always going to be those people who are consistently on the latest diet or juice cleanse. And yes, people may joke about their chubby face or thunder thighs now and then. But not all of them spend hours body checking and crying in front of the mirror. Not all of them feel their self worth and value plummet when eating an “unhealthy” food. That is because not all of them have an eating disorder.
It took time for me to reach out for help. I took several eating disorder questionnaires online to deem my problem valid or not. However, even if the results indicated that I may have an eating disorder, I ignored and minimized the results by telling myself that everyone my age dealt with the same issues. There were times where I felt so miserable and thought I was crazy for letting something as vain as physical appearance affect me so much. After countless nights crying about the reflection I saw in the mirror and overwhelming moments of guilt after eating, I knew I needed help.
After accepting that I needed help, the problem came of finding a way to receive support. My parents knew very well of my eating habits, and they never sent me to treatment. I thought this was because I was too fat. Later on I learned that my parents were painfully afraid for my health, but were too afraid to confront the issue since they were struggling with their own feelings of denial. The only other way I knew I could get help is if my doctor recognized the issue. I knew I had an annual check up appointment coming up, and figured that if I truly had a problem, she would address it. Before that could happen, my eating disorder voice took over. It made me lose more and more weight, before I could really feel validated enough to ask for help. There were several cancelled doctors appointments because of the fear that I was too fat to have a problem. It was finally after needing to go into the doctors for a school sports physical signature, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder.
My doctor asked me how I was doing and I responded with “fine”. She told me that I must not be fine if my weight had plummeted so dramatically. My heart was pounding. I was scared. She asked me what my goal weight was and questioned me about my eating habits. I left her office with an appointment scheduled for two days later at an eating disorder specialty clinic. I cried for hours and told my mom that my doctor was wrong. But inside, I felt a slight sense of relief. I was no longer a slave to my eating disorder. There was another way. I didn’t know what the future would hold, but I knew that anything was better than the mental turmoil I was facing at the moment.
Looking back at it now, there are not words that can describe the pride I have in myself for stepping into that first appointment with an eating disorder specialist. That is where my recovery journey truly began. There have definitely been several ups and downs since then, but overall, things have gotten better. I slowly learned how to cope with those feelings of guilt I experience so intensely. I no longer believe that peace is only possible at death. I have faith that I can learn to love and accept myself the way I am. I experience relapses, just like anyone else in recovery. But I pick myself back up, and strive towards a life free of eating disorder thoughts. Eating disorders are fatal, terrifying mental illnesses that I would not wish upon anyone. My heart goes out to all the victims struggling, including myself. Fortunately, there IS a cure. There IS treatment. There IS support out there, and letting your guard down to accept help may be one of the scariest, yet most wonderful things you can do for yourself.