I want to feel alive again.
This was one of the thoughts that I said over and over in my head before I finally made the decision that I needed help and that I was going to look for it. I wanted to feel alive again. Truly, genuinely alive. I may have looked happy on the outside, but I was dying on the inside.
One of the things my eating disorder did to me was exhaust me emotionally and mentally.
Having an eating disorder is draining. I was obsessed with weight loss, food, and exercise. My priority was fitting into smaller clothing and being thin. Nothing else mattered. You probably would never tell because on the outside I was doing all the right things.
As a college student, I was still attending class and diligently completing assignments. I may have missed a class here and there, but mostly I was a pretty good student with a high average. As a sister and daughter, I maintained close and trusting relationships, just as we always have.
Every other area of my life, however, suffered.
As I think back to those years, I realize just how much energy and effort I put into losing weight, and just how much of my time it took up.
I recall not spending enough time with new friends to develop close relationships. My eating schedule almost never coincided with others’ meal patterns because of just how dysfunctional my eating was at the time.
I didn’t spend enough time, or hardly any time at all for that matter, exploring and discovering how I could possibly fit into the world. College was supposed to be for self-exploration, personal growth, and finding those interests and passions that make us who we are. It can be a place where you solidify certain aspects of your identity. I was so pre-occupied with myself and my physical appearance that I overlooked and ignored seeking my truest self.
My eating disorder had taken control.
I was never in the moment. I was never present. I was there watching that television series or play, but I don’t remember much of it. If I wasn’t sleeping or completing assignments for class, I was planning my meals and scheduling my exercises. My mind was constantly obsessing and overthinking.
- How many calories did I already intake today? How much am I allowed to eat later?
- How long should I work out for today to burn off everything I have eaten? How much did I burn during that workout?
- What will I have to do tomorrow to make up for the mistakes of today?
- When can I plan a secret binge and how am I going to get it?
- When and where are the best times and places for a binge and purge?
I was always hiding…always lying.
I desperately wanted to change how my body looked. I was unhappy and dissatisfied. When I didn’t lose enough weight, I was a failure and felt defeated. When I gained weight back, I was angry and confused. When I ate food I enjoyed, I felt guilty and disappointed with myself. When my body desperately wanted food, I fought a constant “to eat or not to eat” battle. When I binged, I felt disgusting and ashamed. When I purged, I felt proud and relieved.
I was hurting myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was physically and mentally exhausted. My mind truly felt like a dense, dark cloud had made its home in there.
Can you imagine how miserable it feels to always have to hide? To make promises to yourself and others that you will stop, and break them? To feel that loss of control that makes you eat until you make yourself throw up? To feel anger and hate towards yourself for bingeing and purging, yet at the same time a weird sense of pride and satisfaction? Can you imagine so desperately wanting to stop, trying your hardest to change, and not being able to?
I didn’t want to live like this anymore.
I wanted to enjoy the little things in life again.
I wanted to be in the moment and present.
I wanted to remember what it felt like to smile and feel happy…truly happy.
I wanted to enjoy eating again.
I wanted to be able to order whatever I wanted from the menu without guilt.
I wanted to love the holidays again and enjoy eating yummy food!
I wanted to stop feeling disgust towards myself.
I wanted to stop feeling guilt and shame.
I wanted to stop hiding.
I wanted to stop hurting myself.
I wanted my body to trust me again.
I. Just. Wanted. Peace.
I wanted to feel alive again.
If you want to experience life in the fullness that it was meant to be experienced, you can. Choose recovery. It is possible to come alive again. I am a living example of it. You can be one, too.
Start the work
Write down what you want back (peace? joy? people? certain circumstances?).
What do you want to feel or experience again?
Start your sentences with: I WANT…. or I WANT TO ….
What do you not want to feel or do or think or believe anymore?
Start your sentences with: I DON’T WANT…. or I DON’T WANT TO….
** It is important to note that eating disorders do not have to do just with body image, but with deep-rooted beliefs about ourselves — more on that in future posts. **
Questions to Consider
What has your eating disorder taken away from you? What have you never experienced because of your eating disorder that you want to experience? Do you feel that mental illness takes away certain things that you want back?
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