Yesterday, I returned home from a four-day vacation with my parents and best friend. Coincidentally and somewhat serendipitously, the days of my trip matched up with the days of my first stay in treatment three years ago. Three years ago was one of the lowest moments in my life. I nearly lost my life to my struggles with my eating disorder and depression. I was so utterly hopeless and broken down. I can still remember how just breathing felt like my lungs were being crushed by the amount of pain and suffering I was enduring.
Memories of my first days in the hospital can be quite overwhelming. It is scary to face the fact that I was in the ICU because of the damage I did to my body. Being that sick is frightening, but it is not something I could see when my mind was that deep into my disorder. I was in so much denial over how sick I was. Now that I am in a healthier mindset it shocks me to look back at that time and see how powerful of a grip anorexia had on me. I am grateful for being able to see how far I have come since the beginning of this journey.
On Friday, we all went on a hike, and I marveled at my body’s resiliency and how far we have come together. I felt a surge of emotion when I reached the top and looked out at the stunning view. I remembered a year and a half ago when my body was so weak that I had to be forced into a wheelchair. I remembered having to rely on nurses to help me up out of bed because of how weak I felt, and the humiliation of having to literally be pulled off of the floor after falling and being too dizzy to pull myself up on my own.
My body has fought hard for me, and it continues to do so in spite of how I have abused it. If I am honest, I still feel disgusted with my body most days. I still wish it was smaller than it is and my mind spends more time obsessing over how it looks than I care to admit. However, I found a moment this week where I was able to appreciate it. I was reminded that my body is not my enemy. We are a team, and we are on this journey together.
A while ago I came across a quote on Instagram that read, “You are not a failure if you don’t love your body right now. If you can’t seem to accept the parts that you’ve spent a lifetime believing are flaws. I’m proud of you every day that you try to.” So, maybe I still struggle, and maybe I still have progress to make, but I am grateful for chances to see how far I have come. I am thankful for days where I find myself believing in recovery and appreciating the hard, grueling, painful work I have done over these years.
I am alive, strong, resilient, and brave. I am a survivor. Years ago, AAC informed me that I was returning to TK for a second stay in residential treatment. She told me, “You’ve survived so much. You are one of the strongest people I have ever met, and I don’t say that lightly. I know you can do this.” Ever since that day I have held on to those words as an anchor to help me through my hardest days. I needed to until I could believe in myself on my own. I needed to be reminded that others saw strength in me and now I am finally starting to see it in myself. I am starting to hold onto hope on my own and to not fear the idea that life can be bigger than sickness and struggle. I am starting to declare that recovery is possible for me.