National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

I began my career as a psychotherapist when I was 24 years old. I was not yet a year out of graduate school. I was eager, ambitious, and ready to start this next chapter in my life. And like many social work graduates, I had grand plans to save the world. 

I knew I wanted to focus on eating disorders treatment, which was born out of my own struggle with bulimia, but at that time, it felt too soon out of my own recovery, and honestly, I felt too wet behind the ears as a clinician, so eating disorder treatment needed to take a back seat. 

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As we all know, attending college can be a pain, but attending college with an eating disorder? Don’t even get me started. I struggled with anorexia and bulimia for years and went through treatment. I thought my journey through treatment would be the hardest thing I'd ever go through, but boy was I wrong.

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I know how anorexia makes you feel. You think she is your best friend; you think she can solve everything. She holds you in the night when you feel alone. She walks down the road with you reassuring you that you are valued. She teaches you how to miss meals and you become a team. A team with a unique bond that no one can break. A team that you believe will lead to an amazing life. A team that completes you. But no – the team will fail! 

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When I entered residential treatment at age 21, I did not believe I deserved love. I had struggled with an eating disorder for almost a decade at that point and was tired, depressed, and frustrated. I didn't re-admit to treatment with the hopes of recovery necessarily. I didn't want to continue living in the hell of my eating disorder, but I felt hopeless about my future. 

In treatment, I listened to my dietician and put one foot in front of the other. I went through the actions of recovery because the prospect of staying the same seemed unbearable. 

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I am six years old, staring at the mirror, knowing there’s a difference between pretty and ugly. I know who’s “pretty” and who’s "ugly;” even my six year old self, learning to write e's and j's, to paint rainbows with my fingers, knew the difference.

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From a young age I was taught to believe that thinner equaled better, and larger equaled lesser. My dance teachers reinforced this, my father reinforced this, and the media reinforced this. Eating disorders are typically associated with thinness, and while that can be some people’s experience, it is not everyone’s. Those of us who may not appear to have an eating disorder still have a valid struggle and it is important to talk about. It is important for our eating disorders to not be dismissed simply because of our size or the number on a scale.

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I want to begin by introducing you to my ex best friend, the scale. During my struggle with an eating disorder, the feeling of being alone was masked by my new companion, someone who would never lie to me—or so I thought. I spent morning, noon, and night checking in with my best friend. If anyone was going to reassure me and tell me I was doing a “good job,” it was my scale. 

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My inspiration for this poem came from a variety of sources. First and foremost, to educate others on how eating habits and body image perspectives can start from a very young age. Most people tend to forget that the mind is constantly shaping and changing itself year after year. Yes, this even means it’s developing for a five-year-old. The surrounding environment and role models that children place themselves with are very important to a long lasting healthy lifestyle as they grow. 

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Whether the kitchen is familiar territory or unmarked terrain, this space may be a minefield for someone in recovery from an eating disorder. While cooking may be challenging, the results go far beyond the dinner plate; empower your recovery and make some yummy food on the way with these five restorative reasons to cook through your recovery!

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I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2013 when I was 19, but my deadly eating disorder and terrifying habits had begun long before then. They started when I was 14 and progressed for five years until I was so deep in my eating disorder that I didn’t know how to get out.

Throughout my life I have been bigger than my peers, and that seemed to be a constant topic among everyone in my life: the bullies, family, and friends. However, no one acknowledged that my unhealthy eating habits were symptoms of a larger problem.

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