I sit on the bus in the seat corner and drown out the conversation of my friends. I normally chime in, but today, I’m drawn into my book. My stomach rumbles, so I take the last swig of my drink. Much better. There’s nothing like a mixture of lemon and laxatives for breakfast. That’s three calories so far, I think to myself. What may sound dangerous to you, I initially denied being a problem. To me, it seemed ‘normal’ to count the calories of a single bite of salad. I didn’t even get help and wasn’t diagnosed until a friend found me bawling, crouched on the bathroom floor, spilling my guts once again, and until my knuckles were callused and my esophagus would bleed each time I barfed. All because I didn’t know how many calories were in my damn salad dressing. I truly despised my body and would give anything, even my health and sanity, to change it. Nonetheless, these types of disorders aren’t solely a struggle with vanity; a desire for control is buried at the core. I ceased to realize, the whole time, that I was never truly in control. It was the twisted, manipulating voice in my head that became my friend. Consequently, through each calculation and measurement, I was seeking a perfection that doesn’t exist. I focused all my time and energy on being meticulous and secretive that I lost touch with the people and hobbies I loved: spending time with friends and family, playing violin, or even reading. None of them made me happy. Instead, I found comfort in numbers. I was sent to treatment with a fake smile and a complete lack of a will to live. No part of me wanted to get better. I vividly remember the therapy appointments where I barely talked, yet cried a river. Everytime they weighed me, the number on the scale dropped drastically. It was then that I was told I would be sent away from home to a residential treatment center if I didn’t try to help myself. At that point, I just wanted my life back, and I knew I had to start listening to the professionals. My dietician and I developed a meal plan that I reluctantly followed. Weeks later, I was able to delete my calorie-counting app and get rid of my food journal. I downloaded an app to count the days I went without purging and am now at almost 300 days. I now have a truly amazing relationship with my therapist and there isn’t anything I don’t tell her, from boy drama to family dilemmas. Through cycling from therapists to doctors to dieticians, I’ve learned that treatment is difficult, but essential. Slowly, I’ve grown to love my body for what it is; it may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful. I began to open up, first to the professionals and then to my family. Just a week ago, I went out for pizza with my friends and didn’t even question the calories in each slice. As we talked and laughed the whole time, I’d never felt more alive. My story is still not over. I’m proud of myself for how far I have come. I couldn’t be more grateful to have all of the support that I’ve had, and as challenging as my journey has been, I would never change my past. There is nothing more freeing than living without my eating disorder. I discover more about myself every day and my personality continues to bloom. I am no longer the shy and terrified young girl I was. I have new friends and a new life. Recovery may be tiring, strenuous, and scary, but more than that, it is remarkable and liberating.
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