I can’t remember exactly how I reached the tipping point, but one day, somehow, it just clicked. The recognition of how much I was truly suffering from my eating disorder was creeping up on me – long overdue and stronger than ever.
For a long time before that, I actually didn’t really believe that I was “sick enough” to justify asking for professional help. I felt like I should be grateful for what I had been given in life; after all I had an amazing childhood, got to travel a lot, was financially stable and had a loving and caring family, friends and boyfriend.
And I think that I’m not alone in this boat. A lot of girls with ED’s try to convince themselves that they are fine and don’t need help. But just because you aren’t close to hospitalisation doesn’t mean your issue isn’t serious! In the end, the problem is the warped brain. The real measure is how distorted your thoughts are and not how skinny or overweight you are. It’s a psychological disorder after all.
But eventually I summed up the courage to tell my boyfriend and family everything. Thankfully they reacted extremely comprehensive and have been supportive of me from the beginning. I have come to realize that they don’t necessarily have to understand, but it is their support and unconditional love that matters. Being honest to them was the starting point of my recovery and that’s when my self – healing truly started.
Instead of seeking a traditional therapy, I decided to enroll in an online workshop. This workshop was created by an « eating disorder-soldier » who was helping girls like me out of their ED. One of the first things she made me understand was that I didn’t need a professional diagnosis to have a destructive and unhealthy relationship with food and that I deserved just as much help as anyone else. I didn’t know it at the time, but this workshop would eventually give me the necessary kickstart that I needed to turn my life around and I am forever grateful for that.
An eating disorder keeps the world small, you know. It ignores the big scary questions and creates a sharp focus in your life: your body weight and shape. But through this workshop I learned to look inside and identify the true causes of I why I felt the way I did. As much as my disorder was about weight and insecurity, it was even more about control and food being a coping mechanism for my emotions.
And so I went on a journey to dive deep into my emotions and for the first time I got super honest with myself. Some of the first things that I did were:
- I threw away my scale for good and promised to not weight myself anymore
- I started journaling every day. It was incredibly hard in the beginning, but overtime I learned to open up and pour out my emotions into that little leather book that I soon learned to carry around with me everywhere I went. Over time it has become a type of meditation that allows me to connect to my inner thoughts on a deeper level and I think it was one of the most crucial steps towards recovery
- I tried to spend me-time once a week where I did a calming, relaxing or fun activity for two hours just by myself. I did things like going to the museum by myself, going to the park with a book to read, discovering a new area I hadn’t been to or having lunch in a café by myself. I had been my worst enemy for years and these field trips with me, myself and I would eventually help me to rekindle the romance with myself.
Through this process and over time, I learnt to understand the underlying causes of my ED. With the help of the workshop I developed many little coping mechanisms for dealing with different situations and also learnt to cook and eat more consciously and I developed a relaxing morning routine.
But consciously understanding the issue and actually reprogramming your subconscious are two very different things. In fact, there was a phase in my recovery where I thought I had understood everything, but somehow I still couldn’t resist the urge to binge or restrict once it came up. Once that feeling crept in, there was no way in hell to stop it. That’s when I realized that I didn’t have to just work on the conscious mind, but also the subconscious. Unfortunately, that part is much harder and takes much more time (think more yoga, meditation and journaling)
Today, four years later, I can say I have mastered the art of being my own best friend. I no don’t count calories, I don’t weigh myself anymore and I don’t restrict my food intake. I enjoy eating and even more so the process of cooking. I listen to my body and nurture it with whatever it asks for; that may be an organic and vegan salad with spinach and sweet potato or that may be a bar of chocolate. I eat healthy because I love my body. Same goes for exercising: I work out because I love my body, not because I hate it.
Eating healthy and exercising has become a way to show love to myself, not hatred. When we begin to fuel our bodies with food that nourishes our body (for the right reasons!), mind and soul, we have no choice but to begin developing a healthy, symbiotic relationship with ourselves. And even though I think food is only a small part of the puzzle towards recovery, it certainly can be the catalyst to a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.