There is a common misbelief that having an eating disorder is choice. People think that those who have an eating disorder “just decide” to binge, not eat, throw-up, or over-exercise. This is NOT the case. Eating disorders are mental illnesses that drive girls and boys to there very last breath. The severities of these illnesses are no joke and people need to start becoming more aware of the danger that resides within our culture and the way we reward starvation. In high school, I developed a terrible body image that led me to a very dangerous point in my life. I’m beyond happy to say that part of my life is over and I have found peace and serenity within myself. The thoughts, actions, and emotions that fled through my body then, versus the ones that do now, are unbelievably different.

Written during recovery:

The torture and the pain and every microsecond of a bad feeling can be encased into a hidden expression on a face, and it's scary. People don’t know what’s going on and they don’t ask…you’re smiling. And I think that’s the problem. Too often we hide behind the things we don’t like to see, hear, confront, or uphold. Too often we run away to be alone with thoughts, dangerous thoughts to say the least. A smile only holds true value when it’s a real smile, and the even scarier part is you start to think that it is. You tell yourself that you’re happy; you say it one hundred times over and over again until it’s physically exhausting. You say it with every ounce of true happiness left in you, and once the real happiness is gone…the magical, astonishing, miraculous kind of happiness disappears, you exist. That’s it, nothing more, and there’s no part enjoyable about it. Each step and breath and blink and beat of your heart aches. The desire to live is gone, vanished. I isolated myself from all of my friends and family to be alone with me, myself and my thoughts. I believed, and I mean truly, genuinely, believed, everything was right in the world as I watched it crumble beneath my very own two feet.

Written now, post recovery:

Yes, I am recovered, but no, it was not easy. In fact, easy is the absolute last word I would EVER use to describe my recovery. Words I would use? Frustrating, depressing, mortifying, violent, chaotic, and gruesome. And those are the words I thought of off the top of my head. When I say I went to hell and back, that doesn’t even cover half of it. Each day was spent in tears, and each night consisted of violent episodes, the details are not necessary. What is necessary to know is that, at the end of the day, here I am. Speaking with you, alive, upbeat, appreciative, and most importantly, happy. I'm grateful for what I went through. Which may be the most messed up conclusion I've come to…but also the most honest. I've learned through my own experiences, how to judge others based on the inside rather than the outside, because that’s essentially what matters. I’ve learned to love myself, in every way shape and form possible. I've become sympathetic and understanding of people that are going through problems in their own lives. I’ve learned that you must do things for yourself like listen to music, take bubble baths, enjoy nature, go on long walks, and drive around for hours and sing. Light candles, read a good book, write a journal, and study something you’ve always wanted to learn about. Catch up with old friends, draw, and take naps. Ultimately, do what you love and do what makes you happy. That is something no one will ever be able to take away from you. You are the only person who decides and controls your happiness. Don’t you dare ever give that power to someone else.

Although my experience was unique, the occurrence of eating disorders is far too common to be ignored. Even though you may be a single individual, do something about it. You can make all the difference.