When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. I learned quickly that an eating disorder does not happen overnight. You don’t wake up with it one day and it’s gone the next. An eating disorder takes over and unfortunately, there’s no magic cure.
I have been in recovery for over six years. I have relapsed six times. Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world. Other days I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. What is recovery? Recovery is hell. Well, the process is. Refeeding, stomach pain, meal plans, Ensure, appointments with nutritionists, doctors, therapists etc, crying, measuring, calories, increases, and decreases, discomfort, headaches, bellyaches, ED thoughts, mind games, bed rest, weight checks. Hospital visits, rushes to the emergency room. Inpatient stays. Etc.
Those are the tough parts. But Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” So if you keep pushing through and take small strides in recovery, you find that your skin glows, your hair shines, your eyes get brighter, your heart beats faster, your smile becomes real, less fighting, more laughing, still lots of appointments, but they get easier. You still struggle, but without struggle, there is no progress, and without progress, recovery isn’t possible. And I believe recovery is possible. The light at the end of the tunnel still manages to shine through, even in the darkest times.
Sometimes I feel like I have disappointed a lot of people. My family, my friends, myself. I’ve missed out on a lot; parties, outings, school, sports, etc. I don’t remember my teenage years. High school is a blur. And those are times I won’t get back.
But that’s the reality of the disorder. You don’t just lose weight, you lose life. And life is so precious, even when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. I’ve hit rock bottom so many times, I thought I should live there. But rock bottom is the foundation from where I built up my life again. I still get knocked down. I have setbacks. I cry. I give up. But I want to be a Physician’s Assistant. I want to make a difference. I want to save a thirteen-year-old girl with sadness in her eyes. A little girl who doesn’t feel good enough. A little girl who doesn’t see her purpose and all that she brings to the world. Because I was once that little girl, and sometimes, I still am. My job is to save this little girl because she deserves a future.
So yes, recovery is hell. But recovery is also worth it. Am I there yet? No. Not quite. But I’m getting there. I’m learning to like the person I am, the person beyond the eating disorder. I’m Jen, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love my friends, my family. I love to make people smile. I can be shy and awkward but I’m learning to break out of my shell. I’m a work in progress.
I’ve let my family down too much in the past, I owe it to them to be healthy again. But ultimately, I owe it to myself to be healthy again.
And now I have a bigger family— Delta Phi Epsilon. In the short time, I have been a part of this incredible chapter, I have been the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I don’t feel lost anymore. I found my home. They inspire me and motivate me to be the best that I can be. It says something when I’ve gone six years without sharing my story and now I have the courage to share it. It’s because of my sisters. My family. I am forever grateful.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. The hard times make us stronger. If I had never gone through this, I may not be where I am now. By no means am I thanking my eating disorder, but I’m proving it wrong. I’m fighting against it. All an eating disorder wants to do is claim innocent lives.
And I’m not going to let it take mine. Or anyone else’s. So I will keep seeing the light in this difficult situation. I’ll keep fighting. Keep on staying strong. Give it 100%. Because my story isn’t over yet.
I am an aspiring Physician’s Assistant and DPhi sister.