Recovery for me has been a journey and a half. Recovery really is this amazing journey of self-discovery. But facing who I truly am – apart from my eating disorder – has been one of the hardest parts of recovery. I can’t help but stare at my reflection in the mirror and wonder:
Who am I without my eating disorder?
It’s been scary, overwhelming and confusing going through recovery and not knowing who exactly I am separate from my eating disorder.
Because if I am honest.. I have no idea who I am without it. I honestly can’t even remember who I used to be before I was diagnosed. I can’t recall a time when food, my weight or my body size wasn’t constantly on my mind, clouding my thoughts. These disordered thoughts have been there as long as I can remember.
What I do know, is that..
I am more than a body, I am more than a number, and I am more than a diagnosis.
It’s a phrase repeated often in recovery: you are not your eating disorder.
If you’re in treatment for an eating disorder, you’ve probably got this phrase tattooed on your brain. And, while we may get tired of hearing it from time to time, it still rings true.
You are not your eating disorder.
Your disorder does not define you.
You are not anorexic.
You are not bulimic.
You are not a binge eater.
Same goes for all other mental illnesses – depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, etc. You are not your mental illness.
We may have these mental illnesses, but we are not them.
So, if I am not my eating disorder, then who am I? Three short words, one giant question.
For me, the answer has been a wide-eyed “I have no idea.”
What if the “me” without an eating disorder is worse than the one with a disorder? Or what if the answer to this ambiguous question is simply….. nothing?
An eating disorder can guide seemingly every decision. And once disordered behaviors take the place of other areas of life, it can be difficult to know who one is without them.
“I am not my eating disorder” means there is more to me than my eating disorder.
This disorder may have shaped my identity, but there is more to my story – I’m just still in the middle of writing it.
One thing I am sure of: I will never wish I was the person I was before my eating disorder. That poor girl lived in fear, didn’t know her worth, and ultimately got sick.
The woman I am becoming
is one who is resilient. She is learning to be gentle with herself and she knows that her strength can fight even the hardest battles.
The woman I am becoming is more than a number.
More than the number that pops up on the scale.
More than the macro numbers displayed on food labels.
More than the number stitched into the tag of my jeans.
More than the number of minutes I spent working out and the number of calories I’ve burned.
More than the number of likes I get on some Instagram bikini picture.
More than the number society tries to tell me I should weigh, wear, and eat.
The woman I am striving to become won’t allow these numbers to define her. She won’t let the number on the scale or the amount of calories she’s eaten control her and dictate her mood.
The woman I am becoming is growing stronger day by day, fighting for her freedom.
To those of you who are also fighting a silent battle
, please do not give up. Do not give in. You are worth it – so VERY worth it
. You are not your mental illness. You are so, so much more.