Yesterday should have been one of the best days of my life.
On the 20th of January 2016 I was accepted into a combined degree at the Univeristy of Technology Sydney. I will be studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism). This year I will be rubbing shoulders with brilliant minds. I will meet some extraudinary people. I have the opportunity to advance my career.
Yesterday should have been one of the best days of my life. It started out well. It was a beautiful summer day. I’d been for a swim. I’d been around great people. I’d laughed and smiled. I was happy.
I want to make it clear that although I’ve made progress I am not perfect. I have bad days. Sometimes my anxiety rears its ugly head and ruins everything. Sometimes I get self conscious about how my body looks and how it’s changed. I am human.
Last night I came across a photo of myself that was not flattering. It shocked me. I started feeling panicked. Sad. Angry. My eating disorder was returning with a vengence and was stealing my happiness. This one photo had that much power over me. I was reminded of the Year Eight Sophia. A little girl who had so much going for her but placed her worth on how she looked in a photograph.
I had a full blown panic attack. Snot streaming from nostrils, racking sobs, tears, shaking, emptiness in the stomach. The whole thing.
It lasted over two hours.
My brain was completely clouded by fear. I was not thinking rationally.
You know when you’re blowing your nose with the same piece of toilet paper you’re wiping your eyes with you are in a bad way.
In that moment, after seeing that photo, I forgot everything that my body can do. I forgot that I’m able to squat sixty kilos. I forgot that I’m able to leg press eighty-five kilos. I forgot that my body is the strongest and the most nourished it has ever been.
I forgot that starving my body of vital nutrition didn’t provide me with happiness. I forgot that being at a lower weight compromised my menstrual cycle and consequently my fertility.
And that’s what my disorder does. It tries to find ways to bring me down. It feeds off my insecurities and sucks the happiness from my life like a dementor.
Eating disorders aren’t glamourous. Anorexia isn’t a slim girl at the beach who politely declines carbs. Anorexia is lying on the floor with emptiness in your heart. Anorexia is the negative self talk that you have to fight every day. Recovery isn’t just eating a pizza. It’s choosing, every day, to listen to your body and not your mind. Recovery is something I have to choose every single goddamn day.
And just because I don’t look “sick” anymore doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. Just because I’ve made progress doesn’t mean I won’t have dark days.
I’m angry. I’m angry that a beautiful moment in my life was taken away from me. I’m angry that still, to this day, my eating disorder can alter the course of my day. I’m angry that this even happened to me in the first place all those years ago.
But I have a choice here. I can bow to the pressure of that ugly thing inside me. Or I can fight. Every day. For my health. For my happiness. And for my life.
And today I am choosing recovery.