Recovery, something that people imagine is so easy to achieve, yet is probably the hardest and best decision I have ever made in my life. For someone who has never been in this a situation, it is extremely easy to say, “You just have to try and get better. Just stop being sad.” It’s also easy to say, “You aren’t trying hard enough.” For me, it wasn’t worth anything to say I am trying because truthfully, some days I wasn’t. My illness lasted so long that I couldn’t recognize myself without it. I had no idea how to conjure up an image of me “happy and healthy.” For me, I saw myself with Depression and Bulimia at my side for life. For so long, I didn’t know how to be happy. I didn’t know how to disassociate myself with bulimic and depressed.
The journey wasn’t easy. It came after hundreds of days of starvation, multitudes of induced vomit, knife stabbing stomach pains, and in my weakest moments, self harm and a failed suicide attempt. From the moment I felt my body fall, I realized, this is not what I want to do, I do not want to die, not here, not yet. Luckily, I was never a girl scout, so my rope tying skills were ass, or perhaps my rope choice was not strong enough, but the noose broke, and I fell, still alive, still here. Sadly, my revelation of wanting to truly be happy did not come on that day, but I’m so fucking happy it did.
The turn around was slow. It was not a matter of saying, “Oh I want all my confidence back, to be able to enjoy food, and not be really sad for months at a time, okay done!” The process was slow, like lava. Baby steps of telling myself I looked good in the mirror, and eating half a Swiss Roll and saying it was okay to digest. Recovery is not instant. It is learning to crawl again. Learning to stand with crutches. Being able to slowly walk, being able to throw those crutches in the trash and finally take off running. This happened a year later, in the first summer after college. Something inside my brain finally snapped. A lost connection came back to me, and I realized, this is not how I want to live the rest of my life. I wanted change, and I had to be the one to do it.
I began doing pilates every morning. This helped me tone my body and made me feel better as I gained healthy weight. While I love black clothes, I’d try to wear something bright every once in a while, and noticed that helped my mood too. I bought bright ass underwear and bras that weren’t just black. I even have a little white in my wardrobe now. (Just a little) I dared to wear things I would never touch in stores, and wore them shyly at first, until it turned into confidence. Recovery comes with a little pampering. I did things for myself to enhance my mood and raise myself up more and more each day.
While trying to recover I journaled everyday as a detox to let out all the negative energy so that it could fester somewhere else besides my head. To this day, I still journal, and it’s one of the best things I do to release stress. I eat a lot of fruit, not only is it healthy, its delicious and makes me feel good. I turned my diet around from only junk food and integrated a healthier living life style. Do I still enjoy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, my most prized snack, of course! Improving my food choices made my body feel better, improved my skin, and gave me the renewed energy I needed to go out and live life. It also eases any guilt when I eat half a bag of chips.
For me, recovery has been something solely for myself. When what was truly wrong with me came to life, because I finally spoke up, not much changed. I still remember my mother texting me, “I think you can handle this yourself," when I finally confessed to her that I was suffering. After that moment, I never spoke to her about it again. As for my father, I don’t think he wanted to believe something was wrong with his baby girl. Neither of my parents ask me how I am doing now, nor do any of my siblings. Close friends who knew always stayed silent about the situation. I am recovering on my own, solely for myself, and that is fine. The choices I made worked for me, and I am happier than I ever was before.
It is so hard to write this even now. Recovery has been so many things for me. It has been crying alone at night thinking I will revert back to my old ways. It has been times where I look at certain foods and still cringe. There have been times were things still trigger me and I need to sit down and take a break. Some days, I just can’t eat that extra brownie or stomach the thought of a large meal, but I push through. I’ll eat something healthier and say that this is okay and it happens. On sad days, I simply watch things that make me smile, think of good memories, and remind myself I am still here for a reason. Keeping positive people around has helped immensely. Whether they know it or not, they have helped, and kept me alive. Recovery has been pain, suffering, tears, anger, and happiness all in one. The road I have taken, I never thought I would get to were I was, somewhere out of the woods and into the beautiful light I haven't been able to see in years. While not every day is perfect, I am happier than I ever have been in my life. I can go for a walk and take a moment to pause, and I finally think, “I am happy to be alive.”