Life is Worth Living
My eating disorder began when I was a sophomore in high school. I became aware of my body and how it compared to others in a way that I hadn’t when I was younger. I was also just figuring out that I was gay, and I felt that I needed to be in a smaller body in order to be accepted.
The lowest point of my eating disorder was in my sophomore year of college during a trip to Disneyland, one of my favorite places in the world. I wasn’t able to enjoy it because I couldn’t stop thinking about food and weight and calories, and everything related to my eating disorder. I wasn’t myself anymore, and I didn’t know how much longer I could bare it.
On New Year’s Eve, 2017, I made a New Year’s Resolution. It was that in 2018, I would take my life back from anorexia—and that’s exactly what I did. I pursued treatment and was admitted to a partial-hospitalization program two months later. Treatment was the most transformative experience of my life so far. I learned so much about myself and the disease that took four years of life from me. I learned that recovery is possible and most importantly, that life is worth living.
The moment I walked out the doors of that treatment center, my life changed. I became involved with various eating disorders organizations, speaking at walks and conferences across the country and meeting people from all walks of life who could relate to my experience. I started working on a book inspired by my recovery and then made it into a film, and I still cherish every opportunity to share my story and connect with others.
A year and a half ago, I was invited to speak on a panel at an eating disorders conference. In the Q&A portion, a woman in the audience shared that she had lost two people close to her to eating disorders. Through tears, she asked myself and the other panelists, “Why did you survive, but they didn’t?” I still don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t think there is one. I think the only thing we can do as people who have recovered, is to share that with others – to listen and love and lift up their voices. My eating disorder was, bar none, the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. But my recovery from it is a gift. I’m reminded of that every day, and I won’t ever take it for granted.
What makes your life worth living? How do you share your gift of recovery with others?
-Written by Angelo Thomas