Eating disorders are serious, but treatable mental illnesses. Over 30 million Americans experience a clinically significant eating disorder during their lifetime. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and only one third of people ever receive treatment for their eating disorder. Eating disorders impact the way every system within your body works. The neurological impact of an eating disorder can be devastating. Early intervention is key.
Read the story of a woman who, in allowing herself to open up and speak about her eating disorder, was able to heal and thrive.
At 14, I was determined to escape my reality, to change my life, to be a better version of me.
I wanted to be loved, needed, and cared for. I made some very poor decisions. I faced some hard choices. I grew up too quickly in many ways.
At 22, I was married and at 25, I had two children. Yet, I was still a child. Needing, wanting, and hoping to matter to someone. To make a difference to anyone for any reason. I was determined to be the best mom I could be — not an easy task having had no proper role model. My mother was a good person, however, mothering was not her forte. I was cared for but not nurtured.
Sometimes I succeeded at motherhood and sometimes I failed – yet, always, I gave it my best try. By the admission of my now grown children, I had a tendency to be a bit overbearing. I guess I swung to the other end of the pendulum from what I knew by experience. I am thankful that somehow, someway, both of my children are a better version of me.
I never spoke about my insecurity, my loathing of my body, my constant fear of not being enough. I wore the proper mask every day for whatever costume I had donned. I worked, raised children, ran my household, and had it all under control — key word being: control. But it was not control, it was fear. Fear of being vulnerable, of the truth, kept me in check for so long. Fear that if I was not the best, if I could not do it all… then who was I?
Fast forward 25 plus years of my existence in this life-play: I was in a room with friends and colleagues, hundreds of miles from home, who were speaking their truth on issues and for the first time in my life, I told my story. It was both terrifying and freeing. It was emotional yet, I felt detached from my being. I was bold yet, I was timid. None of these people knew my personal battle. What had I done?
In that moment, I felt naked. I allowed myself to show vulnerability. That was against my rules. I was always in command, always the leader, never wanting to be seen as the victim. I had spent my childhood and adolescence in the role of victim and all of a sudden, I was back there unwillingly. I had just let it happen and I had no idea where that would lead me.
Over the next several months, I felt such conflict within. I questioned my authenticity. I pondered my truth. Where was I going? How did I get here? What life lessons could I offer to others?
With the support of many people, I slowly discovered my new self, my new reality. Those closest to me allowed me the opportunity to fall and pick myself up without being shamed or berated. They mentored me along this path of acceptance. I began to accept my shortcomings, my flaws, my strengths, and my wisdom. Accepting my strengths and wisdom was the most difficult. We easily speak of our faults but forget to give ourselves kudos for our triumphs. To this day, many of those I love and have loved, remain unaware of the cruelty and torment that lived within me for so long.
This synopsis of my journey deliberately skips over decades for you, as the reader. Why, you might ask? I believe that there is nothing gained by detailing the torment. I have chosen not to relive the angst and fear. You, as my reader, do not need to dwell on what my negative experience looked like. My suspicion is that you have some of your own unpleasant history and that you already understand from where I speak.
I do believe that there is freedom in recognizing mistakes and moving forward. There is reward in challenging yourself to be authentic. There is honor in accepting your vulnerability as an asset. There is respect in knowing your worth in this world.
Is every day perfect? NO. Is every day worth living to my best ability and as my true self? YES!
I do not see myself as a survivor. I thrive!
To learn more about eating disorders, visit The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness website.
If you are having symptoms, show care and compassion for yourself. Work with a mental health professional to achieve balance in your life.
Contributed by: Anonymous, The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness