Why I am Thankful for my Eating Disorder

This post comes a bit late, but rather than rushing to write a post for Thanksgiving Day, I decided to spend quality time with my family and friends and then take time in writing this post. So here I go. A few days late, but still very relevant.

Yesterday was the three year anniversary for Avolicious. Over these three years, I’ve changed, especially mentally. To be honest, when I started Avolicious with Serena, I was “recovered” from my eating disorder, but the frequency of those relapsing thoughts was quite high.

Especially, going to a high school boarding school, I was even more pressured and swayed by my peers. And my recovery almost faced a downward trajectory.

And so I started writing posts relating to disordered eating as initially a means not for others, but for me.

I needed to convince myself that I chose the right decision to seek recovery: that I needed to nourish my body, that I needed to give my body the love, rest, and appreciation that it deserves.

And over the three years, through meeting other bloggers on this platform, through trying as consistently as I can, through writing blog posts that I needed to hear as much as others did, I’ve made slow but significant progress in my recovery.

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The blog posts no longer serve as reminders for me, but to you, the reader. My blog posts have finished serving my purpose of convincing myself that recovery was the right decision and now have become that same purpose for you all.

And something I want to write today is that as ignorant as it may sound, hardships are something we can be thankful for.

Although I have recovered, the thoughts will stay with me forever. I’m not going to lie, some days are harder than others to keep those toxic thoughts in control.

To many, the Holidays can be a time where these thoughts flare up – we have lots of food, lots of events to attend meaning we have lots of people to meet (and want to impress).

But I’ve learned that having a resentful mindset toward my eating disorder past won’t do anything for me.

Yes, I will continue to be haunted by these thoughts, but this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for my eating disorder.

Now let me clarify. I am not thankful for the actual challenges and hardships – the mental and physical pain – of my eating disorder. But I’m thankful of what I became of due to my eating disorder.

My eating disorder at the time was a coping mechanism for me to control something of my life. I was extremely Type-A, detail-oriented, and a perfectionist – and I was good at it. But as I got to middle school, I was slowly losing grasp of this (not to even mention high school, ha). And in a seeming sense of feeling lost and overwhelmed, I turned to one thing I could control: my eating.

In the thick of my eating disorder, when I realized that I needed to get better, my eating disorder gave me a chance to reflect on my life.  I realized that I was doing the same thing I did with my eating in my academics, social life, faith, and life in general.

The moralizing I put into my food choices (If you eat a hamburger, you’re bad. If you eat a salad, you’re a good person), I did likewise to my academics (If you get a B, you’re bad. If you get a A+, you’re an amazing person). And the same went to how I viewed my friendships, and my relationship with God.

But I never wanted to relive through that traumatic experience I had from my eating disorder in other aspects in life. Rather than chasing toward the unrealistic and restrictive rules society imposed on me, my eating disorder has taught me to loosen my grip on life. If I don’t fix my mindset now, I realized I’m going to be stuck in this restrictive mindset for the rest of my life.

I wanted to live a liberating life, a life that was peaceful without the noise from society of what I’m supposed to do and not do.

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By choosing to live a life that I was happy and excited about, I had to make the hard choice of having to quit extracurriculars that were becoming a chore and simply a name for college apps. These extracurriculars were restricting me rather than giving me the chance to flourish and grow. While I had reservations about giving up these activities that I had worked hard for by sacrificing my weekends and sleep, I realized I was working hard to a false distortion of success, an image that would ultimately make me unhappy. Instead, I consciously have chosen to be happy and make the most out of the present moment rather than looking to where I’ll be next. While in the beginning it was a bit tough, loving my current life allowed me to be much happier and free.

Numbers no longer dictate me, rather, they merely give me a snapshot, a rough outline of my progress.

And with my eating disorder, came a different Stephanie. This is not to say that I’ve completely reversed in my roles. Much like my eating disorder recovery, I’ve learned how to handle and control my Type-A, perfectionist thoughts.

And while I’ve failed countless times to control these thoughts, I know that success is the result of repeated and consistent trials and so I continue practicing that less rigid mindset day in and day out.

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I thank my eating disorder for teaching what it means to be resilient, patient, and determined. But above all, for changing my life view. I now regard my eating disorder as a time for me to pause, reflect, and change a lifestyle that was extremely toxic and unhealthy for me. If it weren’t something as significant as an eating disorder, maybe I would have continued to ignore those warning signs and still live that extreme perfectionist and demanding lifestyle.

And so, with all due respect, thank you to my eating disorder. Thank you for creating a new me, a me that I grow to love and appreciate more every day.

What unexpected thing are you thankful for?

xoxo,

Stephanie

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