How Having An Eating Disorder Allowed Me To Help Others Who Are Struggling
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I’d like to start this article by stating that I, in no way shape or form, am advocating for eating disorders. If you have disordered thinking, or believe that you have a problem with eating habits, please seek help. With that being said, I would like to share my story in the hopes that my words can help one of you who may be struggling, and explain why I do not regret my eating disorder.
I grew up in a household of two parents who loved me, but did not necessarily love each other. I have an older brother who can light up a room with his personality and is loved by everyone he meets. With the pressure of my parent’s failing marriage, and the drive to be as likable as my brother, I set my sights on perfection. I craved to be the picture perfect girl I thought everyone needed me to be. I thought that if I was skinny enough, pretty enough, and smart enough, my parents would stop fighting, my brother would acknowledge that I was enough to be compared to him, my peers would look up to me, and my successes would be enough to mute the voices in my head telling me I would never be enough.
As a cheerleader, there was already pressure to be fit and skinny. No matter how hard I worked out, though, I was never skinny enough to satisfy my craving for perfection. My education had taught me that skipping meals was wrong and unhealthy. My head told me that did not matter. It started with skipping breakfast every morning. When that was not enough, I started skipping lunch at school. And when that did not satisfy the craving, I did whatever I could to not eat dinner or eat as little as possible. When my peers at school noticed I was not eating, I began to worry that they might notice my life was not as perfect as I made it out to be. Instead of skipping lunch, I would purge. I set in a routine with my disorder quickly. When losing upwards of fifteen pounds did not silence the voices telling me I was not good enough, I shut myself off. I retreated into my own world that my disorder had created for me that did not allow me to believe I was good enough for friends. I would never be good enough for anybody.
Eventually, the Lord broke through to me, telling me I am His daughter, I am loved by Him, and I am enough for the Creator of this universe. I chose to not enter therapy to help with my recovery, but to rely on the Lord. While I know and believe that therapy works wonders for some, I did not believe it would benefit me. This is not to say that since entering recovery for my disorder, I have been perfect. I believe you would be hard pressed to find someone who has. There are moments when life brings me to my knees. The voices come back to tell me that I’m not good enough. I bend and break. Recovery is not perfect. It will continue to be a daily battle for the rest of my life.
Now, I am not here to share my sob story. I am here to say that not despite my eating disorder, but because of my eating disorder, I am who I am today. After going through my disorder, I developed a heart that wants to fight for others going through the same thing. I can recognize the symptoms and I am better equipped to help people who are suffering. I know myself well enough to know the warning signs of a relapse and have learned to seek help. Surviving my eating disorder taught me that there are people who love and care for me. They want to help me. While I do not wish an eating disorder on anyone, I do not regret mine. I have grown so much in recovering and found out how strong I am.
If you are reading this, and some of my story rang a little too true for you, this next part is for you. It is okay to recognize that you are not perfect. No one is, and no one can ever be. It is also okay to recognize that you need help. That is not a bad thing. It does not mean you failed. It does not make you weak. It means you are strong enough to move past a battle you cannot win on your own. You are loved by the Savior. You are cared for by the King. You are wanted by the Creator.
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley