I Choose Life: How Poetry Shaped My Recovery Journey


Megan Fulton

Since I can remember, I have always been critical about the way my body looked. As a little girl and growing adolescent, I began to compare myself to the “ideal” shapes and sizes of women in my culture, seen in magazines or T.V., and even my friends and classmates around me. When I was a junior in high school, I lost someone very close to me to leukemia, and this became the tipping point of developing my eating disorder. 

It began as a “health phase,” as people around me liked to call it, but became an unruly obsession of counting calories and exercising to the extreme. To forget the pain I was feeling, I focused on something I could control and began eliminating certain foods and food groups altogether. 

I was always working towards a “goal weight,” but every time I made it I would make it lower and lower. I never went out to eat with my friends in fear I would have to eat something I wasn’t comfortable with and I wouldn’t let anyone else make me dinner. I became isolated from my friends and family because I hated going out anywhere that involved food. I wanted to stick to a strict routine of meals and exercises. 

Anxiety and depression became prevalent in my life, and I felt lost in a world of loneliness and emptiness. I found that this sense of control was comforting, even though it was destroying my life and affecting the people around me. 

I started to develop health complications and finally realized I needed to make a big change, no matter how hard the path to recovery would be. I slowly started to incorporate new foods into my diet and exercise less. I realized that the world wouldn’t be over if I let go of my strict routine and had fun with my friends. 

I also realized that life was so much more than tracking my food and miles and began to learn how to live again. Poetry became my solace because writing down my raw emotions on paper made them feel real and I hoped that maybe even sharing them could help others who are struggling with the same feelings.

Below is a poem that I wrote about my eating disorder recovery: 

A Slave

Gripping to your thoughts,
She becomes a slave to her own mind
She whispers,
She says perfection trumps
I say take your
And endless pain,
I choose life.

Luckily, I got help before things took an even worse turn, and slowly got back to a “normal” body weight for my height. The journey toward recovery was painstakingly difficult, but every step along the way was worth it when I knew I was closer to living a life of freedom, and no longer letting the countless thoughts of dieting and exercise control my mind. 

Recovery is a lifelong process, both physically and mentally, and poetry has become my outlet to express my perspectives on eating disorders, recovery, and much more. I hope to inspire others to take control of their lives through recovery and reach out if they feel as if they are struggling. 

Everyone is going through something, and asking for help should never make you feel weak or embarrassed. I have become even stronger through my hardships with anorexia and going through the process of recovery, and I know others can one day feel this way too.

Megan is a mental health advocate who studies psychology at Salisbury University in Maryland. Once graduated in May she will pursue a Master’s of Social Work so that she can counsel and help those who are struggling with countless different disorders. She hopes to educate people on the signs of eating disorders and reduce the stigma associated with seeking therapy. She uses poetry as her way of coping and expressing her thoughts, in hopes that people can relate to her battle and inspire others to seek help if they, or someone they love may need it. You can follow her poetry Instagram, “poetrybymeg,” to see other poems she has written!