Stepping Back into Life
The sheer idea of leaning back into life, after so long of being consumed by my eating disorder, was one of the hardest aspects of beginning my recovery.
I grew up in a rural town, where I knew every face and every street. But with the beginning of high school came an overwhelming set of challenges, and the life I had always known shifted without much warning. I became disconnected from my friends, family and myself, and I had not yet learnt language to communicate my emotions. I felt the only way to alleviate this sense of alienation was to alter my body. After all, that was the ‘magic key’ that was sold to us, and even at age fourteen this seemed completely normal – despite having previously grown up with a wonderful relationship with food, my soccer, and my body. These feelings of disconnect and low self-worth progressed steadily into an eating disorder, and I spent the rest of my adolescence absorbed by the excruciating pain of Anorexia.
I began to accept that my eating disorder would not simply leave me if I did not start showing it to the door, and combined with several other factors, I had an eventual shift in my mindset to actively wanting recovery. However, it felt as though every time I made small steps towards this, I was countered cunningly by the Anorexia – with guilt, shame, distress and anxiety. This could bring about feelings of hopelessness, and uncertainty about my desire to recover. I felt trapped in a limbo between the distressing but familiar trappings of Anorexia, and a brave new world.
I wanted to share my story to encourage those currently experiencing something similar, to keep marching onward towards better days. It can seem incredibly daunting, entering life after being so disconnected for so long. It seems there are many things you need to do, and many things to overcome, and many conversations to have. But you are completely capable. With support from your treatment team and family of blood or choice, stepping back into life eventually becomes a truly exhilarating experience. Small flickers of joy begin to be born from experiences that once seemed impossible. One minute, one hour, one day at a time.
I am several years recovered now, and I still feel that I see the world in a more colourful light than I ever used to. I am grateful for every moment that recovery has allowed me to have – like being able to visit my parents and break bread over the dinner table, a place of peace after so many years of it being a battleground.
Recovery was often exhausting, difficult and scary, and I had to pull strength from the deepest parts of myself. But every challenge taught me a lesson, and I carry them with me to this day. Slowly, you can walk those steps back into life, and create the beautiful, meaningful world that you truly deserve.