There’s a lot I’m unsure of these days. To name a few, I’m unsure about how my body is supposed to feel, unsure about which of my thoughts are really me and which are fueled by my eating disorder, unsure about what real portion sizes look like, unsure if I’m eating too little, unsure if I’m eating too much, unsure which of my friends can tell that I’m struggling, unsure what to do next, unsure if I’m making any progress in recovery, unsure if I’ll ever fully recover…
In short, there are a lot of unreliable variables whipping their ferocious paths around relentless circles in my head, and they don’t really take the time to stop.
They don’t stop when I have a lot of homework.
They don’t stop when I have a huge test coming up.
They don’t stop when my neighbors throw a party the evening before said test.
They don’t stop when my roommates and I have conflicts.
And they especially don’t stop when I’m feeling down, insecure, or anxious: all of which tend to happen quite often in the daily life of a college student.
And yeah, it doesn’t feel good. Yeah, sometimes I feel like giving up. Yeah, sometimes I feel like a failure, like I should throw in the towel, like it’s too much.
But no matter how horrible that feels in recovery, no matter how overwhelming and heavy and impossible, here’s the thing: it still feels a million times better than the disorder did.
Here are my five top reasons for continuing with recovery:
I like myself better without my disorder.
When I was in the worse parts of it, I was really nasty to be around—for both myself and those around me. Alone time wasn’t filled with enjoyable activities because things I used to enjoy (like reading and painting) took too much brainpower. They no longer seemed a productive use of my energy.
Self-care routines were neglected, and being alone with my thoughts was more effort than it was worth. I didn’t laugh as much, smile very often, understand many jokes, go out of my way to help others, or attend fun events.
In recovery, those things are coming back. I laugh more now, I sincerely care about the well-being of my friends and can be there for them, I can be fun every once in awhile…
Yeah, I like this girl a lot better.
The longer I am away from my disorder, the more I am able to envision a future outside of it.
I remember my goals. I remember the things I enjoy. I have things I want to accomplish. I want to have a family someday. I want to have children, and be a good role model for those children.
Believe it or not, I forgot about these things in my eating disorder. Sounds crazy, but at the time, it was so much easier to fall into than I thought it would be. It snuck up on me, and before I knew it, I forgot.
Reason for recovery: I’m remembering now.
I care about those around me.
Like I said before, I was really nasty to be around. I caused the people I care about a lot of pain. I was mean, I snapped at people, I was aggressive and angrily threw knee-jerk reactions at people who wanted to spend time with me. My disorder was being protective of itself, and it encouraged me to grow more and more isolated until it could take over completely. My circle of friends shrank. People I used to enjoy spending time with became burdensome and/or pissed me off, partly because they were concerned.
Like I said, I was really nasty.
And more importantly, I was causing pain to my family and friends by mistreating myself. It hurt the people who care about me to watch me be so unhappy. My eating disorder wreaked a lot of havoc; recovery puts an end to that. Recovery gives hope, positivity, and lifts us up rather than tear us down. Even though it hasn’t been easy, staying in recovery means that I won’t be causing the people I care about any more pain.
It was exhausting. All of my energy was going towards sustaining the eating disorder, and the rest of my life was slowly falling through the cracks while my hands shook with the effort of keeping up the destructive habits. I was mentally wiped out.
Physically, too. My body was physically so tired.
It’s time to rest.
I simply don’t want to be in pain anymore.
Let me tell you a quick story.
This semester started off a little rocky. I considered skipping it altogether, but my intense desire to beat the odds (paired with a little pinch of FOMO) drove me to give it a shot, and before I knew what was happening, I was on a plane back to Boston.
Once I got off the plane, I hailed a cab back to my apartment. I had left it a mess, seeing as I’d flown home when I was in such an exhausted and drained state. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me to prepare for classes, which had already started when I was arriving. I’d missed the first few days to tie up some loose ends in day treatment for the eating disorder.
I knew it’d be in some sort of disarray, but I didn’t know what was coming.
When I walked into my room, I dropped my suitcase and immediately started to cry. Over and over again in my head (and eventually, aloud in between sobs) all I could think was: “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”
The room looked exactly as I thought it would. But being in that room—where I’d spent so many hours the last semester—reminded me of how cruel I’d been to myself throughout those months. And my past self needed an honest and heartfelt apology.
So I stood there in my doorway by myself, cried, and apologized to myself over and over again. Until I felt I was done.
Whenever I feel like quitting recovery (which I undoubtedly do), I think about that moment. I’m still sorry, and I’m still not sure I’ve entirely forgiven myself. But I don’t want to ever have to apologize like that to myself again. I don’t ever again want to be responsible for so much of my own suffering that I miss out on my own life trying to sustain it.