I don’t have a whole lot of regrets looking back on my life thus far. There have definitely been challenging moments, but i don’t regret them. I don’t wish that things went differently or my story was pain-free, because I am thankful for that pain and all it taught me.
Being a teenage girl is tough, and it was a challenge for me. When I was 13, I started to pay attention to my body more. I noticed it changing, and I didn’t like it. I did not feel as light, my skin had zits, and I felt disgusted. I was a gymnast, so looking at myself in mirrors in a small leotard was a norm. These thoughts about my body persisted but did not change the way I was eating. I just sat with them and told no one. None of the other girls on my team understood. It was just me and my negative thoughts 24/7.
Eventually things did spiral out of control. “Clean eating” led to cutting out a few things from my diet, cutting out a few things from my diet led to restriction, and restriction led me to a full blown eating disorder. I spent my high school years living in a bubble that my eating disorder created. My identity was this disorder. But with this new identity came with immense pain.
I’m not going to go into the details of my eating disorder, because we all know they are not pretty. Relationships in my life were shattered. My self-esteem was non existent. This disorder left me with nothing.
Recovering from my eating disorder was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It was scary and incredibly daunting. Letting go of something that had been part of my life and who I was seemed impossible. I hit a lot of rock bottoms with this disorder, and the last rock bottom I hit I knew I couldn’t keep living my life in the way I was. I went back to Walden for the second time, but this evaluation was different. This time was different. It was me who set up this appointment, not my parents. It was me who wanted to live a life of happiness and freedom, and it was me who knew I needed to make changes to get there. July 19, 2013 was one of the darkest days. I was sent to residential treatment. I was 16 years old. I was young and confused, but most of all I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was in residential for a month, partial for a week, and IOP for 3 months. Treatment helped me restore my weight and get a better grip on my life. When I was released from treatment, the world felt scary. I was so used to living in such a controlled atmosphere and feeling safe. Adjusting to the “real world” was not easy, but I managed with outside support and leaning on all the tools I learned over the course of 4 and a half months.
I didn’t start to feel more freedom from my eating disorder until I was 18 years old. It was towards the middle of my senior year where I really began to push myself… where I began to eat my fear foods, where I began to let go of my rigid meal plan and find a healthier relationships with exercise. This new sense of freedom was invigorating. It was an amazing feeling and one I had never felt.
My freshman year of college was a very exciting time in my life. I was living away from home and owning this sense of independence I felt. However, I had fears going into college. The freshmen 15 talk was so prevalent, and I noticed right from the start of my college experience how common negative body talk was as well as food shaming. Even within my own friend group, the body shaming talk and the emphasis on looks was something I could not escape. I found myself falling victim to this negative self-talk. It took a lot of self-discovery to recognize I am my own person. Just because someone else is food shaming or body shaming does not mean I have to. I came back to school my second semester a lot wiser and more confident in my recovery. I knew that what I needed in my life was different than what others needed. What I needed to support my journey and growth was unique. I also needed to surround myself with other humans who valued the same things I did. My friends were wonderful, but we were so different. I am thankful that I was able to cultivate closer connections and surround myself in a more positive environment my sophomore and junior year.
A lot of growth in my journey has come from learning from my mistakes. Being perceptive in my actions and taken a closer look into my intention behind doing things. My first semester of my sophomore year was plagued by depression, but I was able to overcome that with outside counseling and most importantly, strength from within. Through spending time alone, forming connections and friendships with others who genuinely care about me and share similar interests, and discovering more of who I am without an eating disorder and mental illnesses; I have been able to make great strides in my journey. I have so many things that are important to me now besides my eating disorder. I have my blog: www.blissful-lyss.com and Instagram: blissful_lyss29 where I can share my experiences with eating disorder recovery and recovery my depression and anxiety with others to inspire them that recovery is so possible. I have yoga: something that has changed my life. I am a certified yoga teacher, and I am blessed that I can share this practice with others. I have writing. I have nature: another thing that has been so healing for me. I have music, friendships, and freedom. Freedom from scales, freedom from food, freedom from exercise addiction.
I have been firm in my recovery for 2 and a half years now. Of course there are days where I struggle, but I just never think to use behaviors to cope. I have so many other amazing coping skills, and the idea of turning back to my eating disorder is not even enticing to me. I am working every day to cultivate wholehearted living, and an eating disorder would derail me from that. The idea of recovery seems daunting and an unthinkable dream at first. But please, please listen to me that you are so capable and worthy of living this life of freedom. You are worthy of love. You are enough- and it is a shame to think otherwise. This journey is not easy, and you will want to give up at points. Turn to the people that care about you when you do. Tap into your heart and find that strength, because it is rooted in each and every one of us. Even when we think we can’t take that extra step in our journey, we find it within us to do so.
When I was in the beginning of this journey, I found a quote on Pinterest that struck a chord with me, and I will never forget it. “And I said to my body, softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’” Nurture yourself. Your body needs your love and care. Your mind and soul are craving it, your body wants to be your best friend. Have the most beautiful love story be with yourself- in the way you treat yourself, in the way you live life authentically, in the way you love and accept every layer of your being.
Check out my story too over at my lovely friend Emily’s blog! -> From Broken to Beautiful
Listen to my story over on the Nutrition Matter’s Podcast!