I Am Not My “Disorder”
Perfection: a word that was once the bane of my existence. Nothing was acceptable unless it reached that impossible standard. Whether it was my grades, my relationships, or the way I looked, I could not settle until they were all perfect. Most people recognize that perfection is impossible to achieve, but my inability to accept this truth led to a never-ending stream of disappointments. I now understand why: perfection does not exist.
The self-loathing that ensued as a result of what I considered failures built up for years, finally culminating in my eating disorder. I retreated into my own world of sadness and disappointment, avoiding social situations in fear of being forced to eat. Starvation was the punishment I gave myself for not living up to my own ridiculous standards, and was a way for me to remove myself from the lives of the people around me, whom I believed I was burdening. I pushed away the people who loved me, and saw their attempts to help me as sabotage. Feeling like I had failed everyone by being sick, but also believing that recovering would make me undesirable, put me in a state of constant conflict. No amount of hospitalization, therapy, or threats of immanent death were enough to motivate me to get better. From this, I learned something that may have saved my life: recovery is only achievable once the person who is sick decides let go of their disease. I recognized that my life was worth saving. For me, this epiphany occurred one morning when, by something that can only be described as a miracle, I decided enough was enough. Although it was difficult, and even painful at times, with the help of supportive friends, family, and team of doctors, I was able to push through the negativity in my head and regain my health.
Just over two years have passed since I chose to walk the path to recovery, and I’m thankful to say I have never looked back. Yes, there are still times when I have to force myself to eat, and find myself constantly overanalyzing everything that I do– but I now have the strength to overcome this negativity. Although it was a difficult period of my life, having an eating disorder made me a stronger person, and helped shape who I am today. I am finally able to recognize my positive qualities, and understand that one’s aesthetic appearance is not a measure of their self-worth.
To anyone reading this who is suffering themselves– I hope you now believe that recovery is possible. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to motivate yourself to make a change. It is a difficult process with no pill or easy cure, but I can guarantee it is worth it. To anyone that is friends with someone struggling with an eating disorder– the only thing you can do is be there for them. You are not their doctor or their therapist; you are their friend, and that is the most valuable thing you can be during their recovery. Knowing that there are people that love them and need them in their lives is one of the best ways to combat the feelings that are telling them otherwise. Everyone has something to offer to the world, but no one is perfect. Recovery comes when you can accept that, and acknowledge that who you are is more than enough.
Orli Levitt, Online Contributor
Graphic: Sophie Barkham