National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Imperfection is Beauty
By Emma Reynolds

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I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was in 8th grade. I was diagnosed a year after the disease began to take over my body, and continued to battle it. Throughout my road to recovery, my parents didn’t exactly understand how to help me get better. They were lost and scared for me. My dad gave me lists of books written by eating disorder recovery patients. I didn’t like anything about these books, mainly because I felt like my situation was somehow different. I hadn’t yet come to believe that I was battling an eating disorder. As I read the stories reluctantly, I was slowly beginning to understand the power that these stories had: a path for me to understand myself. It was during the times when I felt the most alone and confused, when I would envision myself a few years from that moment. I imagined myself completely recovered, but also I envisioned myself writing about my journey. I wanted to write a story about how if I could do it, you could do it, because every ounce of me believes that you can. I believe in you.

My name is Emma, and I battled anorexia for 2 years. I was starting to be influenced others perceptions of beautiful. I wanted to be beautiful, but I hadn’t quite figured out what that actually meant. The more I lost weight, the more satisfaction I felt. It was a game. The more weight I lost, the more I wanted to loose. Months passed, less and less food entered my body. One day, my hands and toes turned completely white. Later that day, after my fingers and toes never turned back to normal color, I went to the doctor. It turns out that I was so far into the eating disorder that my heart was slowly growing unable to pump blood into vital areas of my body. That day, I was officially diagnosed with anorexia. My vitals were a new level of low. My body had eaten away all body fat, muscle, and was now moving on to my brain. My body was far into the process of shutting down functions, running out of energy compensation. My body wasn’t shutting down on me; I was shutting down on my body.

The eating disorder was almost in complete control over my body. I spent the next year submerged in therapy sessions, nutritionist sessions; extreme cut downs on my exercise/sport schedules, and much more. Looking back on this moment in time, I am so incredibly grateful for all the support I received from family, friends, nutritionist doctors, therapists, general doctors, and everyone else out there. At the time, I couldn’t see how they were changing my life, but now I know: they saved me. During this time when I was unable to understand what was going on, I felt very alone, lost, and confused. I thought that I couldn’t beat anorexia, because eating disorders were more complicated than I could grasp. The eating disorder has a mind of its own. It controls what you eat, when you eat, your emotions, decisions, and everything else. I was so far hidden under the disease. My journey of beating anorexia was so incredibly difficult, but every moment of recovery was worth it. I proved to myself that I really am stronger than I do seem.

Through time, I accepted the fact that it’s okay to need help. You don’t need to face life alone, there’s a whole world of people ready to help you. After this step, things only moved forward. I began to understand everything that battling an eating disorder was slowly teaching me. Nobody is perfect; nobody is the same. We all have different body shapes, hair color, eye color, skin color, and so many other diverse differences that make us unique. If we all strived to look the same, life wouldn’t be fun. I learned that sometimes its okay for life to be difficult. Life is going to be great, but we are all going to encounter something difficult. But, you are strong. Every aspect of life is worth the fight. It’s the obstacles you overcome that define and shape you. And most importantly, I learned what it means to be me. I finally looked in the mirror and saw myself. I now look in the mirror and see an imperfect human that is more than happy to be imperfect. I am proud of myself. I am me. And if I could give you one piece of advice through your recovery, I would tell you that, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined, even Winnie the Pooh agrees with me on this one.

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