Do Whatever It Takes: An Eating Disorder Recovery Poem

Woman Meditating on Beach
jessica dyrek headshot

Jessica Dyrek

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.

Secondly, I, myself, was once a victim to an eating disorder. Now that I am recovered and healthy, I want to spread awareness of the mental disorder to try to help those suffering through one right now, as well as to help with the prevention of eating disorders.

Lastly, I wrote this poem to show that eating disorders can have happy endings. With the right treatment, support, and dedication, recovery is possible. No, it will not be easy, in fact, it will be far from easy, but…it will be worth it. And whenever someone that is struggling wants to look at a poetic uplifting message, this is what I hope they turn to:

Growing Up

Innocent, fresh, and ever so pure
When we are children we don’t know much more.
We are taught while we’re young to be kind to others,
To use manners when needed, and to not hit your brother.
Don’t judge a book by a cover, they say,
So I wonder how and why it happens anyway.
At the young age of five, or for some right before,
We become little humans who like to explore.
We grow into a world that’s structured yet free,
Where they tell us to be who we want to be.
A vet! An astronaut! A teacher! We choose,
Not thinking about if we win or we lose.

In the blink of an eye we’re seven or eight,
Ready for cursive, division, and opinions to create.
It may not be realized or noticed per say,
But the small details we see affect us each day.
The make-up put on and the clothes that are worn,
By surrounding people is becoming the norm.

Twelve years old and on top of the world,
A middle school hero who’s about to be whirled.
Things start to matter that shouldn’t be looked at,
Like how much you weigh, or some natural body fat.
You are given a number for the size on your jeans,
Bullies appear and are nothing but mean.

People start talking; they notice your face,
You’re the girl who barely takes up any space.
Although obvious, you have not a clue,
That what people are saying turns out to be true.
They say you need help, to get food in your system,
But you just ignore, and think you have all wisdom.
Mental breakdowns make you open your eyes,
To finally see your mind’s full of lies.

Recovery, they say, is the most grueling part,
It takes energy, time, and all of your heart.
It’s not just your body it’s your mental state too,
You must be strong, tough, and find the real you.
Behind the disorder lies a beautiful human,
Who’s struggling to thrive in the new world they’re viewed in.
Progress is made, and weight is put on,
A smile starts showing, insecurities gone.

Just turned eighteen and ready for college,
Still nervous you might not have all the knowledge.
Move into the dorms, to make a second home,
With unfamiliar places so you start to roam.
Discovering life is amazing and brilliant,
And also discovering that you are resilient.
You are kind, caring, brave, smart, and level headed,
Ready to take on whatever might be dreaded.
You have been through hell, nothing could be worse,
Eating disorders…they have no remorse.

So you leave it in the past, never to return,
Because you have mastered the lesson to be learned.
That life is a gift and there is so much to do,
Like walking to the ocean and enjoying the view.
Taking pleasure in art, and playing with puppies,
Going out on the weekends and looking for hubbies.
Running for joy, and the smell of spring flowers,
Your comfiest pillow, and endless hot showers.
A genuine laugh that makes your belly hurt,
And a dance in the rain, who cares about dirt.

Find your passion, your push, your desire or love,
Whatever you choose it will fit like a glove.
You’re your own person, imperfections and all,
You’re your own hero when it comes to a flaw.
Be happy, be healthy, and be grateful above all,
For you’re given this life where you’re ever so small.
Don’t be too serious, and learn from mistakes,
And always remember: do whatever it takes.

For recovery resources and treatment options, please visit our resource center. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call  ANAD’s Helpline at: (888) 375-7767 or the National Alliance of Eating Disorders Helpline at: (866) 662-1235.

If you are thinking about suicide, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. In crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer from the Crisis Text Line.

Jessica Dyrek is a 23-year-old woman, born and raised in South Jersey. She would like to be an author one day and share her thoughts and emotions to help others.