Road to Recovery

Julie Saunders

When I look back on my journey I’m in awe of how my eating disorder changed my life. For 18 years I never once thought about what I was eating, my clothing size, my weight on the scale and certainly not calories  my exercise. I was as carefree as they come, I was constantly surrounded by friends, laughing until I cried and eating whenever and whatever I wanted. I couldn’t tell you how many calories I ate or what I weighed because that was something that never crossed my mind. 



One comment. One comment about my weight changed my life forever. 



I went from being outgoing to the girl who hid herself from the world. My life was consumed by my eating disorder. I measured my self worth by the number of calories I consumed and the number on my scale. I thought I wasn’t trying hard enough, I didn’t want it enough if I didn’t workout for countless hours every day. 



I was losing weight at an alarming weight. Yes, I was getting smaller but so did the size of my heart and my will to live. I lost weight sure, but along the way I also lost all of my friends, I missed out on family events and spending time with my loved ones because I was afraid of being tempted with food, afraid of my secret being exposed. My hair fell out, I was always dizzy, clothes didn’t fit me. My eyes were dark holes. I cried when I thought of food and berated myself for eating. I was a shell of who I once was. Everyday I thought to myself that I couldn’t live this way forever but the alternative was me gaining weight, and at the time, that was even worse than being consumed by the monster inside me that was my eating disorder. 



Ironically, the more weight I lost the more compliments I received. Even at times when I knew I looked sick, they still praised my weight loss. I think this is a huge reason why people fail to get the help they need. When your peers are condoning your habits, you think your fine. Unfortunately, this served as further encouragement of my behaviors. That pushed me to lose more weight because no one stopped to say “are you okay?” My secret was I was consumed by my eating disorder and I was not okay, I couldn’t remember the last time I was. 



That was who I was for years. It took me almost losing everything to realize how I had destroyed my life. I was seconds away from giving up. An eating disorder is a slow death, a unspoken suicide.  Now I see life differently. I regained my health and saved my life. I go out with my friends and no longer skip out on family events. I can laugh without it sounding foreign to my ears. My hair is long and healthy, my skin glows…I smile. I eat to fuel my body. I exercise a healthy amount and if I’m not up to working out then I choose not to. I find happiness in the smallest things that I was blind to before. I think what’s most important is that I don’t feel guilty for being happy, for making mistakes and being human. 



Sure I’ve had setbacks, I’ve had achievements and I’ve had low moments. But when I look back on it, I am grateful for all of the highs and lows because now they are merely memories of who I was, not who I am – they don’t define me. Recovery isn’t something that is easy and it isn’t something that happens over night. It takes determination and hard work. At every meal you have to make the choice to choose recovery over your disordered eating thoughts. Recovery enabled me to find strength within myself and to find my voice that my eating disorder silenced. Recovery gave me back a chance to live, it showed me hope and a future. Recovery gave me back my life.