Meghan says even her worst day in recovery is better than her best day during her ED
It’s hard to nail down one distinct moment of my life when I first decided I wanted to alter my body or try to diet. I can remember the day after Easter in 7th grade, when I ate a bunch of chocolate and leftover candy and immediately promised myself that I would never do anything like that again. I remember the times in childhood, when I would pinch and prod at the fat and skin around my legs. I remember the first time I went for a run because I was worried about the dinner I had just eaten. All these things on their own are not necessarily significant. But together, they gelled and coalesced and developed into anorexia nervosa when I was 16.
I battled my eating disorder for seven long years throughout my high school and college years. I was surrounded by thin, beautiful, seemingly confident girls and I felt like no matter what I did, I could not get there. I started skipping meals, seeing how little I could eat and spending hours at the gym every day. I was putting my body under immense stress and my mind became a dark, dim place. My lifelong anxiety saw my guard down and moved in, where it refused to leave. Not too long after, depression followed. I tried to battle these demons but I was tired, malnourished and had no energy to fight them. I spent my days in therapy or with my doctor, who continued to urge me to stop running. I was on my way to becoming a Registered Dietitian and I had no idea how to take care of myself.
I spent years restricting, hiding, shrinking away from the world. Refusing invitations to parties, to family events, to bars and dinner with my friends. I isolated myself as much as possible, without even realizing I was doing it.
Halfway through my dietetic internship year, I was heading out to yet another session at the gym. I was crying as I took my gym clothes out of the closet, I cried as I started to put on my shorts and sneakers. And then I stopped. I sat up. And I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I was letting my eating disorder ruin my life. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I sought control as fiercely as I could but at the end of the day, anorexia controlled me.
I took off my running shoes. I got into my bed. I googled recovery and for the first time ever, I had the intention of following through. I discovered the Minnie Maud method, which resonated with me more strongly than anything ever had. I joined as many online support groups as I could find. I met with my therapist and a dietitian and established a good support system. I emerged myself in the body positive community through blogs and Instagram. And I went to the grocery store and bought all the things that I refused myself for so many years.
Recovery isn’t easy. There are days I wanted nothing more than to go for a long run or skip lunch when I didn’t feel that hungry. There are times when I was filled with guilt after eating a meal that felt particularly indulgent. There are stays I still don’t love my body, not 100%. But even my worst day in recovery is better than my best day during my eating disorder.
Recovery is hard but my eating disorder was harder. It’s only from this place, eleven months later, that I can say how miserable I truly was. I’ve learned so much about myself- who I am, what I care about, what I like to do besides obsessing over food and recipes and the gym. I am a better person, a kinder person. I have more room to love and be loved.
If someone told me a year ago that I could have this much food and body freedom, I would not have believed them. I would not have believed that I could gain X amount of pounds and still be happy or that I could by size Y jeans and still feel good in my body. If someone had told me that I could get a milkshake on my way home from work just because I felt like it, I would have laughed in their face.
I promise that freedom exists for you too. Whatever your demons are, whatever battle you’re fighting: you can be free. It might have beaten you down, it might have taken away all your confidence and self-esteem. But freedom is possible. You are worth the fight. Wherever you are in your journey, take one step forward. Find an Instagram account or blog that inspires you, connect with a therapist or doctor or friend who can lend you support and push you to keep going. You are worth help.
Almost a year into recovery, I can tell you that it is worth every bad day, every doubt, every worry. There is so much joy to be found, so much love, so much good in the world. It is waiting for you and I promise you are worth it. For anyone who is doubting or scared, start with me. I believe in you. I will hear you out. I will tell you everything is going to be okay. Because no matter what, everything will be okay.