National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Light Through the Clouds: Finding the Meaning of True Health and Happiness
By Melissa

I have never been a follower. I was never influenced by bad decisions or peer pressure. I have always been commended for the decisions I have made throughout my life. How have I been challenged with the biggest struggle I could ever imagine? I was challenged to live with a constant negative influence, dictating my decisions, and dictating my happiness. I think about this almost every day: How come so many beautiful, intelligent people, are faced with negativity towards themselves? I was one of those people. I struggled with an eating disorder for nearly 5 years. As a child/teenager, I went through that “awkward” stage like every other girl out there. Simply just to filling out into the woman I was supposed to become.Growing up, I was a fantastic athlete. Volleyball, soccer, track…. I loved it all. Playing sports kept me happy and content; they gave me something to look forward to after school and on the weekends. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I began to develop discomfort with myself. I played volleyball for the varsity team at my school. I was a competitive and serious athlete. With this competitiveness, I felt the need to excel. Being one of the younger girls on the team, I did not think that I was getting the playing time that I deserved. I used this as motivation to get in better shape, get stronger, get faster… do everything in my power to become a star asset for the team. I developed an idea in my head, an idea that I thought would help me achieve these goals. It wasn’t long before this innocent plan turned into an obsession. It consumed my life; my thoughts, my concentration, my relationships… literally everything. My mindset went from planning my weekend plans with my friends, to a preoccupation with eating disordered thoughts. At first it was easy to hide or disregard, but then I started getting comments from others that ended up adding fuel to the eating disorder fire within me. Soon the compliments turned to concern within several months. Friends and family would approach me about it. I was in denial, and there was nothing they could say to make me change my mind. Spring time came around, and my parents said enough is enough. Since I was still an adolescent living in their home, they made me seek medical attention. That was the reality check I apparently needed. When a medical professional stares at you with concern, you know something is not right. Recovering from an eating disorder is not an easy task. In fact, I would say that it was the biggest challenge of my life. Over the course of five years, I went to doctors, therapists, dietitians, wellness coaches, etc. to help me overcome my struggles with food and myself. Last spring, after some very emotional conversations with my loved ones, I was finally ready to get the help that I so desperately needed. I had hit “rock bottom” and was ready to change myself and my actions for the better.  I was ready to allow myself to live the life that I deserved. I reached out to the professionals, because I WANTED to change. In order to have a successful recovery, I had to commit myself fully to get better. Over the past several months I have learned so much about myself. During the good days and the bad day my strength, my emotions and my attitude have been tested in ways that I never even know were possible. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any harder, a light came through to me, a light illuminating me, as a person. I deserve to live an eating disorder free, happy and healthy life. A life filled with fun, play, laughter and spontaneity. Achieving this required me to push myself. To step out of my comfort zone, and to test my devotion to being the woman I know I am capable of being. Once I became committed to my health, I can honestly say that I have never felt better. Recovery has tested my strength in so many ways, and proved my courage and devotion to myself and my health.  I believe that everything happens for a reason and that recovery allows for new opportunities and experiences to arise. Despite my struggles over the past several years, recovering from an ED has opened my eyes to how beautiful life truly is, and I have learned to appreciate the little things in life that were not always as apparent. My thoughts are clearer, the world appears brighter, and I find a new appreciation for each and every day. I am a changed person… a new person, and I have never been happier in my entire life. 
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