Then and now… wow. It’s hard to even begin this post. The photograph on the left was taken about two weeks before I turned 17. I was close to the lowest weight I had reached, I was recording every single calorie, logging every single bite, stepping on the scale three times a day, going to school in sweatpants, and having dreams about running. I was eating slices of cucumber for lunch and slice of cucumber and a small handful of walnuts for dinner. I felt cold, alone, bleak, and terrified every single day.
This is probably one of… maybe five photographs that I have of myself from this time period in my life. It was taken about one week before I was confronted and about two weeks before I began recovery.
It’s hard to think about the past few years. While I’m in a much better place, sometimes seeing old photos puts me back into that mindset–thinking about how in control I felt, thinking about how much thinner I actually was. But then I think, what am I thinking? Everything was out of control. I was thinner, but definitely not happier and definitely not healthier. I looked sick and I felt sick. Who wants that?
At first, I was very hesitant to open up about having had anorexia and about having disordered eating, but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned to embrace every single aspect of it. And you know what? I’m really freakin’ proud to be where I am! Why should I hide the fact that I overcame something that was once so life-consuming? Why should I hide the fact that I’m enjoying the very foods that once terrified me? While I still have bad days, I now know what to do and tell myself so that I do not give in. Sometimes, simply saying, “Hey! You beat this thing!” brings me an immediate sense of strength, unlike any I’ve ever before felt.
The photo on the right was taken just a couple of months ago. I have absolutely no idea what I weighed in it and I truly can say that I do not care. I look happy and I look healthy and that really does make me feel incredible. While I pay attention to calories, I do not ever log food, because I know what it will do to me. I feel silly asking the doctor if I can turn around on the scale and not hear the number, but I know what might happen if I start paying attention to numeric weight. Is it bad that I still can’t look at the scale or that I can’t trust myself enough to log food? Maybe. But more so I am proud that I’m not even giving Ana the chance to come back.
This year’s NEDAwareness Week had me feeling especially reflective, perhaps because I’ve been hearing Ed’s voice a little bit more often lately. Having graduated, having landed my first full-time professional job, and living truly on my own for the first time is stressful, inevitably leading to disordered thoughts. Thankfully this week has reawakened the idea that there is recovery, that there are supporters, and that there is always, always hope.