Putting the “Numb” in NUMBers

**Written on May 10th, 2017**
Why do we put so much value into numbers? Why do they serve as a method for deriving meaning? Everything we do is tied up in numbers. Have you ever stopped to think about how numbers are a manmade concept? They’re not natural. They’re a product of mankind, a result of a desperate search for order and structure.
Numbers are everywhere. I’m sure when I say this you instantly think of the obvious and conscious ways that numbers control us. The numbers on the scale, on the nutrition label, on tests and sporting events and followers and so on. These are well-known instances that we are all familiar with. Though rationally we understand that the following isn’t true, we can’t help but at least acknowledge it in passing: these numbers reflect our self worth. Higher number above that “followers” section of your profile? You’re worthy. Lower number on the scale? You’re doing something right. You get the point.
But it goes beyond this.
These are conscious occurrences of numbers manipulation, but it doesn’t stop there. Subconsciously, numbers can weigh us down without us realizing it. This afternoon, my sister and I went on a walk. I was so excited to get some fresh air after studying all day; the moment I stepped outside and the sun bathed my skin I was overcome with a fleeting peace. We began the uphill trek up our street, chit-chatting and breathing and being mindful. I really wanted to make an effort to avoid checking my phone and just enjoy nature and the outdoors. About halfway through our walk, I realized I had no idea what time we left or how long we’ve been out. And for some reason this made me uneasy. Why though?
Reflecting on it, I realized that simply having a sense of time, of the mere numbers that dictated my schedule, made me feel in control. And so I buried my phone deeper in my pocket. There was something scary about being uneasy, but also so damn freeing. I had no idea when we left, so I couldn’t even try to guess what time it was based on how much time I figured had past. I was truly at a loss.
It was this loss that opened my eyes and allowed me to realize what I had gained from it. An extremely small example in comparison, but it’s similar to shedding an eating disorder. There’s a certain fear that comes in facing life without it, but it’s exhilarating to finally be out of control and just live. Until I was stripped of time, I never realized how much I depended on it, those stupid numbers on my lock screen, on my watch, on the clock. I like to do everything in a timely fashion, priding myself in my discipline to stay on task and align myself with a pre-set scheduling of events. However, I realize this is just me searching for control, and it’s so stressful to constantly orient my life in this way. I’ve spent years now swearing how numbers don’t control me, and that’s true, in the sense that I was implying. I don’t weigh myself, I don’t count calories or macros. I’ve found myself and my worth through my passions, not numbers.
It’s these subconscious occurrences that slip right by all of us, myself included. Now I’m not calling for anarchy and begging you all to storm Capitol Hill demanding we eradicate the concept of time, but I do want you to be mindful of this trap. When I was on that walk, living free of time in blissful ignorance, there was nothing standing in between myself and my feelings. I wasn’t preoccupied with calculating when we’d be back, or how long this set me back in my studying, or if it was a long enough time to be acceptable exercise. I didn’t possess the numbers that would allow me to do so, leaving me with just my thoughts and my feelings and nature and my feet on the sidewalk and my dad’s baseball cap falling over my eyes because it was too big. I was able to disconnect myself from my timely obligations and notice the roots of a plant desperately breaking through the pavement, stopping to take in the sight and appreciate the plant’s strength, without worrying about how much time had passed.
Numbers make me numb. I’m not able to truly connect with myself when there’s always a quantifiable concept lingering in the background. It’s not weight or calories or obvious measures anymore, rather subtler outlets, like time and structure that comes with it. A world without time is unrealistic, and being the realist I am, I get that. But I encourage you to disconnect from the measures that weigh you down when you can. While time is essential, find loopholes in this. Take a study break and go on a walk for who knows how long (not you!), read a book and start and stop when you feel like it. Eat dinner an hour before you told yourself you could, because you’re hungry NOW. Numbers numb. Disconnect and allow yourself to feel, to think, see the course your mind takes when the necessary pieces that allow you to worry are simply not there.
There is a freedom in the unknown, and a lack of control will allow you to find that.
Until next time… 😉

 

Distancing Yourself From Your Physical Appearance

**Written on April 22nd 2017**

When I was finally weight-restored (and proved able to maintain a healthy weight), I was cleared for exercise after a 6-month restriction.
All I could think about was how out of shape I was, obsessing over what exercises would tone my arms, define my core, lean out my legs. Every day I would come home from school, change into my workout clothes, eat a snack, and head into my basement gym to… take “pre-workout selfies”.
Yup. Every. Damn. Day. 10 to 20 pictures, me posing the mirror picking myself apart. I told myself they were progress pictures, that what I was doing wasn’t disordered but the complete opposite. I WANTED to change, I wanted to be strong and healthy and I thought recording my progress obsessively would get me there.
But we all know how the obsession storyline goes.
After each workout, I would return to the same mirror and pose again, looking for instant changes in my body’s composition. I would take picture after picture, spending at least an extra half hour after my workout to do so. Then later at night I would lay in bed editing them, playing with filters and zooming in pathetically to see what needed to be “fixed”.
Sometimes my days were even determined by the quality of my photoshoot. Did I like the way this afternoon’s pictures came out? My stomach looked better today than yesterday, right? The rest of my day would be bright, I would feel happier and more accomplished, as if I were making huge strides.
The next day, my stomach didn’t look ideal. I wasn’t happy. That night, I was miserable, angry, what had I done wrong?
This vicious cycle went on for months, until it wore me down. I was too tired to care anymore. This was so miserable. I was obsessed with how my body looked, and judging my character, my disposition, my abilities, my character, all on an outward appearance that will never be 100% in my control anyway.
I was sick and tired of obsessing over my body, over what I didn’t like about it. I knew I needed to take action. I was sick of pitying myself and decided to take some critical steps towards distancing myself from my outward appearance. Some practices that worked for me were:
– Quitting the workout selfie game. This was extremely essential for me because of how obsessive it became. Honestly, I haven’t taken a selfie of my body at the gym in…I want to say 6 or 7 months. It just doesn’t even cross my mind anymore. That’s because of the second practice I implemented, being…
– Constantly reminding myself of all my body can DO. How smart and capable and deserving it is. Every day, I took time to thank my body for allowing me to build strength, to enjoy life again, to be alive. Dispelling irrational thoughts about your appearance can be tough, but the key is to be consistent. Expose your irrational thoughts by saying them out loud. This always, ALWAYS helps me realize how silly I’m being. Personally, I’ve always had discomfort regarding my stomach. To me, it was always “tubby”, and this translated into people seeing me as “lazy” or “weak” because I didn’t work hard enough to sculpt it to toned perfection. I would take this thought, and say it out loud. In the mirror. Watching and hearing such an ignorant and outright STUPID expression made me realize that I was being irrational.
-Making choices that benefitted how my body functioned instead of working for aesthetic goals. I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve always appreciated a thorough sweat and strength building. I had to revoke that mindset. I realized that recently I was working out to look a certain way. You have to shift this focus. Workout because it makes you stronger, it benefits your body and mind. The rest will fall into place.
-Put your trust out there in the world. Don’t be afraid to make changes that you know are best. I had to trust that taking care of and loving my body from the inside out would give me my best life. And what do you know? Here I am.
My quality of life rests in how I take care of my body from the inside out, not how it appears on the outside.
It’s funny how things work, actually. Once I stopped stressing my body and mind out regarding my appearance, my body began to go through changes that I was pleased with. I wasn’t inflamed or bloated anymore, which was likely a symptom of stress and obsession. This was around the same time that I made the switch to whole/fresh foods (for my internal benefit) from my gym-rat protein laden/toxic ridden intake (for my physical “gains”). This is no coincidence.
At first, it will be hard. If you have to take more drastic measures, DO SO. In the beginning, I did have to wear baggy clothing to work out to stop myself from picking out flaws. I did purposely avoid mirrors for some time, and the like. There is no shame in doing every damn thing you can to better yourself.
You are so much more than your body can show. Your life can be SO BRIGHT, so freeing, so stop beating your body up for not living up to some insane expectations you pulled out of thin air. Instead, step back, be grateful for what your body can do and how much it cares for you.
You only get one body, but you also only get one life. You might as well love your body, because loving your body allows you to love your life. You can’t love your life and hate your body, it just doesn’t work that way.
I can’t stress it enough. Just be GRATEFUL for your body, love it from the inside out.
Sending love!

 

Finding A Sense of Self Post-Recovery

**Written April 6th, 2017**
When you spend years, months, weeks, hell, even one day battling an eating disorder, you lose yourself. You become the disorder. It’s all you identify with. You’re the girl who doesn’t eat, the one who goes to the gym twice a day, who’s disciplined and strong. Yeah yeah, you know the drill.
Okay, so let’s say you’re basically beyond your disorder. Now you’re weight restored, you’re mentally and physically stable, and you’re beginning to search for new outlets to invest your time and energy in. Where do you turn?
Two summers ago, this was the state I was in. I was no longer an eating disorder, but what was I? What lifestyle did I identify with? How did I want to lead my life? I was so lost. At this point in time, I had just started posting on a recovery-based Instagram account to help hold me accountable for my intake, to vent about my struggles, and to connect with those who were in the same place I was. My account was small, my posts were just vehicles for therapeutic captions. I went out of my way to follow as many “pro-recovery” accounts as possible. People who had overcome their disorders and were now sharing their next steps. Being as lost as I was, I looked to these people for inspiration.
My Instagram feed quickly filled with bikini competitors, fitness gurus, and protein-bar junkies. I was being fed the idea that once you recovered, the next step was to become a “health nut”. A “gym rat”, if you will. I spent the majority of last year scoping the Internet for the newest protein powder that I could pair with a protein bar that tasted remarkably similar to a candy bar after the gym. Sipping my BCAAs while I wrote out a heavy lift for later that day. Taking (no exaggeration) about thirty gym selfies after every workout. I followed accounts that counted macros, were gym obsessed, and praised protein like it was all that was holy in the world. I didn’t know better. My ignorance was only bliss for so long.
Eventually I found myself doing these things to. Most importantly, I was counting macros. I saw that these accounts didn’t care about the ingredients in the products they were eating, as long as they were “macro-friendly”. This term became an obsession. I stocked up on more bars than I care to remember, never glancing once at the ingredient list but instead making sure they were super low net-carb and not too high in fat. What I was looking for was a slab of protein that tasted like some wild dessert flavor, and unfortunately there are A LOT of options out there, surprisingly.
I spent my entire senior year of high school eating products that I now realize were just collections of chemicals, manmade sweeteners and additives and flavors. I ate my veggies at dinner, sure, but that’s probably the only source of “whole foods” I was consuming. Protein pancakes with WF for breakfast, protein bread for sandwiches, sometimes THREE PROTEIN BARS a day, etc.
Not only was I not seeing the results I wanted, but I knew I could be feeling better. How did I know this? I found myself constantly thinking about the foods I wasn’t allowing myself. Pretty sure I dreamt about guacamole…like, a lot. My body was sending me signs that I was craving more whole foods, especially more fats. Admittedly, I spent all of last year AFRAID OF FATS. I identified myself with the gym and “gains”, and I couldn’t justify the presence of more fats than necessary, or more specifically, the ones in my Combat Crunch bar.
These cravings led to me searching through#avocado hashtags on Instagram. I began to follow more and more accounts who were food based instead of gym based. More strong minded people posting whole foods, nutrient rich and fresh intakes. I was in awe. These men and women led such radiant lifestyles, and I wanted in. They talked about how they incorporated exercise into their lives, because it was healthy in moderation and because they enjoyed it. There were no overwhelming amounts of gym selfies, just beautiful food and beautiful people behind the camera.
I was inspired by these accounts to start doing more research into wholesome foods and digestion, the microbiome, how important fats and carbs were, etc. In doing so, I realized how horrid my new identity truly was. Now that I’m no longer ignorant to ingredients and their importance over calories and macros, I have a lot of regrets about last year’s intake. Today, I wouldn’t go near half of the products I used to eat with a ten-foot pole.
In exposing myself to my fears, I was able to truly discover myself. I can now say with pride that I identify myself as an advocate for all-around health and wellness. I’m not the gym junkie, protein guzzling little powerhouse I tried so hard to be. I thought there was no other way to lead my life post-recovery. But here I am. The gym is only a part of my life. I find so much joy in cooking, in eating wholesome and fresh foods, in going to farmers markets and simply appreciating how BEAUTIFUL whole foods are. I can’t see myself ever going back to rejecting the ingredients of what goes into my body. I have found such an appreciation and love for wellness that I wouldn’t compromise that for the world.
This is a topic that’s been on my mind for awhile, especially as my birthday nears and another year comes to a close. I’ve realigned my beliefs and values greatly in this past year, and I feel confident going into the big 19 that this is where my heart is. I would have never discovered my true place of peace had I not expanded my horizons, faced my fears, and branched out. I don’t want to throw a cliche at you about comfort zones, but I don’t think it’d be a bad idea right about now 😉
In no way am I demeaning or dismissing the dedication and passion involved in a gym-dedicated lifestyle. To each their own, and if one is content and happy where they are, I’m in no place to judge. As always, I’m just speaking from my personal journey and what worked and didn’t work for me.
Sending love!!

 

Grit

**Written on March 27th, 2017**
Man, today was rough.
When I was sick, and then “recovering”, and then relapsing, and the whole nine yards, I’d keep daily journal entries in my phone and update myself throughout my miserable days. Once I truly stuck to recovery and my life began to improve, I found no need to furiously type away my emotions into my Notes app. My days of emotional turmoil and distress were behind me.
For the most part.
I’m human. Every now and then I have these days where I just get hit with a wave of distress. I can never really explain them. But I’ll try. Today went a little something like this:
I wake up, and it’s hard. My body feels like lead. Without permission, my heart whisks my brain into a vicious dreamland where I can’t see any purpose to my life, where I feel so lonely and lost and directionless. The day will go on, I’ll embark on my morning routine. But something inside me feels like it could swallow me whole. I feel passionless. I go to the gym but feel no inclination to do anything. I go to class and can’t focus, trapped in a brain fog, berating myself for not being able to follow along and absorb the information. I find myself in the library between classes and volunteering. I just got swamped with an unmanageable amount of assignments. The overflow of work triggers the fear centers within me. I panic. I gloss over each class’ excessive workload and feel as if I don’t understand any of it. My attention span feels embarrassingly small. I open my math textbook and begin the 30+ problems that I have two days to do. Math is my weakness, my downfall. I spend twenty minutes on one problem and feel the tears forming as I squeeze my fists in frustration. I feel so OVERWHELMED. There’s too much to do. I have the gym, two classes, volunteer tutoring, a scholar’s event, and all of this homework. On top of these obligations I have to find time to eat and shower and at one point I even find myself trying to schedule in my stops to pee. Today, the world just feels like too much.
My to-do list, both short-term and long-term, seemed to multiply by the second. Today was an emotional train wreck. I felt as if I was pushing myself too hard, trying to read sixty pages of East Asian History in the mere half hour I had before spending two hours tutoring my student, racing back to campus to crunch out some more problems in the library before darting off to the program’s event. On the walks between obligations, I FaceTimed my mom with a trembling voice and tears that threatened to flood my cheeks. I couldn’t explain why I was crying, what was wrong. I was just overwhelmed, and the world felt heavy and I felt helpless and for some unexplainable reason, I just felt as if I had no potential. I felt that all tasks being asked of me would not only be impossible to complete, but to even understand. Brain fog. Extreme brain fog. That’s all I can term it as.
College has brought me a handful of these days, and in them I have learned more about myself than I ever thought possible. By expressing these fears and metaphorical weights to my family and friends, I felt a release. I reached out to my best friends, one who cheered me up with a video chat and the other who left me a voicemail that I’ve listened to repeatedly all evening. Just hearing my mom’s voice grounded me, reminded me that I’m not alone.
Our minds can play wild tricks on us. I know what it feels like to be trapped in a depression, and to experience extreme anxiety. While I am thriving and healthy and happy in my current life, I am no less human. These depressive and anxiety-ridden traits sometimes attack when I least expect it, and that’s life. How I choose to handle them and reflect on them is up to me. Fate had it that this terrible, no good day took place on the same day as the scholar program colloquium for tonight, titled “Grit”. Tonight, a group of like-minded people met together to discuss what grit means to us in our education and beyond. Collaborating with fellow students and intellectuals truly opened my eyes. My peers had such powerful insights as to what grit is, so much so that at some points I found myself taking their words and implementing them into my own life, seeing them ring true.
After the discussion, I felt ten times better. We talked about how grit is a next-level perseverance, a toil with failure on the way to success. Having grit means dedicating yourself to your goals and working toward them with complete diligence. With grit comes passion. Exercising grit requires you to push yourself, to exceed your limits and self-expectations. But my favorite piece that was contributed was the notion that when exercising grit, one also has to stay mindful. “Grit”. It’s a word that sounds so relentless and tough, so macho if you will. However, to truly succeed and be happy, you have to put yourself first. If your goals are doing more harm than good, then stop. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Only push yourself in ways that you can handle. Take a step back to reflect. Grit isn’t a non-stop process. Work hard and rise above failures, but don’t beat yourself up.
Today, I needed to be reminded of this. I tend to overwhelm myself with my work, my extracurriculars, my passions. On days where I find myself in this emotional hurricane, in this overwhelmed state of mind, I have to step back and reflect. What does grit mean to me? It means working hard to put myself and my wellness above all. My dad called me tonight and, as usual, lifted my spirits. He told me that all my work will get done, that I’m doing so well in all fields of life and that my health comes before anything. This day has physically and mentally exhausted me, and he picked up on that right away. My own father told me to put the schoolwork on the back burner. Call out of tutoring if I mentally can’t handle it today. Take a deep breath and a hot shower and make a good meal. Without your health and your stability, you have nothing.
I knew I needed to vent out about this day because it was just SO. MUCH. I couldn’t think of any better way than to share it than a blog post. I don’t know how many of you can relate, but I do hope that if you ever find yourself in a fleeting slump, remind yourself to reflect. That you don’t have to push yourself to a breaking point. Have the grit to put yourself above all else.

 

Tough Love

**Written February 11th, 2017**
Tough love, man. When I was quasi-recovering, relapsing, suffering; my mom loved me TOUGH. And at the time, it made me want to punch holes in the wall, scream until my veins popped out in my neck, until I was blue in the face. She refused to pity me. I pitied myself. I felt so bad for myself, that I was suffering. I remember constantly complaining about how the world wasn’t fair, how I didn’t deserve this disease, how I was going through such a terrible time.
It’s funny, actually.
I desperately wanted the attention of everyone around me, and at the same time I wanted to disappear into thin air. I wanted to go through the days unnoticed, terribly embarrassed by my emancipated appearance and straw-like hair, my “sick eyes”, my pale glass skin and bones where body fat should have been. I hated myself and what I had become. Yet I wanted everyone around me to pity me, to look at me and shed a tear, hug me and tell me it’s okay, I’m validated. What a god damn paradox.
My mom refused to pity me. I would lock myself in the bathroom at school during class, silently, violently, shake and cry and just shower myself under the dark rain cloud that was my depression. During these episodes (which occurred daily my sophomore year of high school), I would text my mom novels. I would tell her how sad I was, how I’m really trying this time BUT… How I was scared for the future, how I didn’t want to wake up in the morning, how I physically felt as if I was unable to sit through a school day without wanting to jump out of a window.
I would hold my breath as I watched her type on the other end. She was loving, she cared, but she didn’t enable me. Ah, that’s the word. ENABLE. She acknowledged my frustration, my sadness. What she didn’t do was VALIDATE it. She was stern and outright honest.
She’d start her responses with my name.
“Angie…” the message would read.
Think about that for a second. When someone addresses you in the middle of a conversation, your heart stops. Things just got serious.
And she would do this all.the.damn.time.
Talk about the power of words.
She would go on to say that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel and she was glad that I was expressing myself. However, there was one tag line she constantly reiterated over and over again and I’ll never forget it. “You have to help yourself”.
YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF.
Basically, those five words are what I’m here to rant about. My Instagram has allowed me to grab a glimpse into the struggles of so many beautiful people. So many souls who are hurting, who are huddled together under that dark cloud that haunted me in the bathroom stall. So many people in quasi-recovery, relapsing, battling demons. I have crossed paths with plenty of people out there who are crying the blues about their disorder, but are doing NOTHING TO HELP THEMSELVES.
I’m sick of it. I’m so DAMN SICK OF IT.
Frankly, you know what you have to do to get better. You KNOW you should be doubling your intake, HELL TRIPLING IT. You KNOW you have weight to put on and that you SHOULD NOT BE WORKING OUT.You know that you have to eat your night snack, regardless if you live alone and nobody is there to pat you on the shoulder and stroke your hair and give you a high-five.
When you’re in the grips of an eating disorder, you constantly look for validation. Your downward spiral was dependent on this acceptance from others. You kept losing weight, working out harder and eating next-to-nothing. You began manipulating your diet to include seven items. And you kept going, further, further, because you were under the impression that others saw you as “dedicated”, as “healthy”, as “strong”. This is validation. Your actions, while it be irrationally so, were being validated by what you assumed others to think.
To those relapsing, to those who claim to be in recovery but frankly aren’t doing shit, this is for you. I say it sternly and brutally honest but any other way will enable you to keep trucking on the same way you are. YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF. Nobody can do it for you. YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. DO IT. Quit stalling. What are you waiting for? Why do you keep saying “tomorrow”? Why do you keep saying “If…”? I don’t understand. Why do you want to stay stuck? Don’t you want to be alive?
I realize there are so many of you out there struggling alone. I realize how insanely fortunate I was to have treatment options, professional help, and a loving and caring family to fall back on. If you don’t have these things, and even if you do, I’m here for you. I want to be your support system. I want you to climb up on my shoulders and then climb even higher, bounding towards life and happiness. I want to listen to you and be here for you and simply help you.
What I don’t want, however, is to enable you.
My mom loved me tough. She listened to me and hugged me and cradled me and reminded me that it’s okay not to be okay. But she never let me stay put. She constantly reminded me that I was sick because I, ME, was allowing myself to stay that way. That I was stronger than any damn voice playing with my brain. But there was only so much she could do. The rest was on me.
One day, I picked myself and realized I was done self-pitying. I was done coming up with excuses for why I shouldn’t do what I was supposed to do. I SHOULD be taking a rest day today, but I just feel SO good that maybe I’ll just skip it. I SHOULD be adding more to my intake, but I’m so tired so I’ll just go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
NICE TRY. YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF.
Coming from someone who’s been around the block, here’s what I have to say.
If you’re trying to restore weight, you CANNOT be working out AT ALL until you’re weight restored and then MAINTAINING A STABLE WEIGHT FOR AT LEAST A MONTH. You HAVE TO expand your intake, you HAVE TO stop trying to fill yourself up on empty foods such as huge bowls of vegetables.
If you’re trying to restore a healthy relationship with food, you HAVE TO break whatever rules you’ve cultivated. You have to throw caution to the wind and just DO IT.
The only way out is through.
How do you expect to get better if you’re doing shit about your situation? Do you expect to one day snap your fingers and things are easier? It doesn’t work like that. You put in the work, the dedication, and you’ll discover your reward. I don’t care that it’s scary, that you’re scared to death to make the changes you need to. The discomfort is temporary. Death isn’t.

I refuse to pity those who can help themselves. Your illness CAN be overcome, but YOU are the only one that can do it. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

I love you all, SO so dearly. I acknowledge your pain and I understand your struggle and I hear your cries. But i refuse to enable you.

YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF!

Sending (tough) love!

What Life After Recovery is ACTUALLY Like

There’s a fine line between being in recovery and being “recovered”.
It’s not a distinction that’s all that obvious, but it will reveal itself in the subtlest of ways. It’s a long, slow transition but it will make itself evident to you. One day things will click. Decisions that once triggered an anxiety bomb will now seem miniscule. Spontaneity will become fun as opposed to the epitome of hell. In your recovery, you have become so dedicated to seeking out your mental and physical health that the lifestyle becomes second nature. You no longer have to weigh pros and cons of a decision, because you already WANT to make the RIGHT one.
One day, you’ll take a step back and say to yourself, “Hey, life isn’t so bad. It’s not as grey as it once was.” You’ll have a wave of relief wash over you, a feeling of narrow escape. But you did it.
Welcome to the other side.
My life after recovery is, well, amazing. I’m so blessed and grateful and simply can’t believe that at one point, I wanted to throw this all away.
You may not be able to see it now, but you have so much potential. There are so many options. The world is SO BIG.
Life isn’t black, or grey, or whatever dull color is cascading a film over your perspective. I had my run with depression, and anxiety, and OCD. I remember waking up each day and feeling disappointed that I did. I remember dragging myself down my high school’s walkway, my bones aching with each step, a North Face layered over two sweatshirts the week before spring break, the world muffled around me, my mind counting my steps and trying so desperately to ignore my rumbling stomach. I know what that pit in your stomach feels like. I know how heavy it is, how much it’s dragging you down. I know the unexpected and uncontrollable mood swings. One second you feel like you can handle this, this thing that is life. The next minute, you’re attacked with a feeling that your life is meaningless, that you’re incapable, that one day you’re going to be old and alone and STILL sad.
The only way out is through. There is no other secret or mystery to it. You have to fight.
Okay, random tangent. These blog posts are always raw rants…but it’s important to get these thoughts out there.
Back to recovery vs. recovered!!
Personally, I am well into a post-recovery life. When I post on my Instagram about feats or skipping workouts or eating freely or whatever it may be, I’m not looking for people to say they are “proud” of me. I’m not looking for validation or praise. I appreciate the love and support, but I share those things to reiterate to you all what life after recovery looks like. When I make decisions now that would have been impossible for me before, I share them to display my change in mindset, to show you what YOU could have if you truly commit to your recovery.
Another thing. Weight-restored and recovered are not the same thing. To physically reach a weight that a doctor has deemed “safe” for you does not translate into mental freedom. Just throwing it out there, my doctor’s “goal weight” for me was 25 pounds less than what I weigh now (or at least the last time I weighed myself…don’t have a reason to do that anymore!). Once I reached that weight, my life didn’t magically get better. It’s like turning a year older on your birthday. The number changes, but you don’t FEEL different. That’s what weight-restored means to me. It’s getting older, but that’s it. Recovered is when your mind and body connect, when you’re confident in your ability to be responsible for yourself. When you can talk to your body and honor it. When your life becomes more than food, fitness, and appearance. When you begin to define yourself as a person, outside of these elements. When your heart feels light and the world has color and things are vibrant.
That being said, I have to come right out and say it: I don’t believe in being 100% recovered.
Sounds hypocritical, right? Let me explain.
Living a life after recovery makes me “recovered”. I’m no longer dying from an eating disorder. I’m no longer battling severe depression. But in my opinion, I don’t believe eating disorders go away completely.
See, being recovered is everything I described it as and more. However, to be completely honest, the thoughts never disappear. Instead, they dissolve into faint whispers, dancing around in your head once in a blue moon. Being recovered means hearing those thoughts, screaming over them, attacking them with your health, and silencing them. Being recovered is the ability to eradicate the irrational. It is NOT the absence of the irrational. Being recovered makes you strong enough to confront whatever thoughts still have the audacity to show up and putting a brutal end to them. There’s no other way to say this, but once you have an eating disorder, you always “have” one. You can’t unlearn the horrible things your disorder forced you to learn, you can’t un-see food and exercise in the ways you did when you were sick. However, a recovered lifestyle and mindset allows you to modify these irrational perceptions to conform to healthy ones. I’m recovered, but my eating disorder will always be a part of my past. I will sometimes have thoughts pop up against my will. I sometimes will flash back to awful memories, and feel an unwanted sense of mourning. These are natural. It’s okay to acknowledge that the eating disorder is still faintly there. I’m sure there are many people out there that could disagree with me, but I will stand by this point. I’m thriving in health and happiness, but I still have struggles. It’s normal and part of life. I’m not weak for telling you all that my ED will always be here, even though it is in bits and pieces instead of an army. I’m strong for acknowledging it, accepting it, and fighting like hell against it each and every day.