18 April 2017 // At Ursinus College

What I Learned After Recovering From An Eating Disorder

Recovery is a daily battle but I promise it is worth it, you are worth it.

Liana Weishaar

Living a life worth living.

Finding Freedom.

Eating disorders are not about food. Eating disorders provide control. They have strict rules and routines. These rules become so embedded in us that the fear of living without them is terrifying. But in order to find recovery we must go against every rule Ed has ever made. Defy Ed. Refuse to partake in his deadly game. By doing this you will find your freedom. Freedom from Ed is worth the daily fight. It is worth the tears and frustration of feeling out of control and without a vice to keep you grounded. You have spent all of recovery feeling every negative, hurtful emotion to get here I promise it won’t last forever. So please fight, you are worth it. Freedom is worth it.

Finding Positive Coping Mechanisms.

Eating disorders are not about food. They help us cope with strong emotions that most of us do not want to feel. They help us control uncontrollable situations. They help us feel or not feel. They are effective as quick fix coping strategies for short periods of time. Although this quick fix seems to work at the time, it eventually creates new and bigger problems. The hardest discovery when beginning recovery is finding healthy coping mechanisms to replace the old ones. Temptations pull at us to use old and toxic quick fixes. But when we find positive ways to handle the pain, the reward of health and life is incredible. My journey in recovery lead me to art. With a pen and paper I find my control. I feel my emotions as I am consumed by the art in front of me. There are so many other positive ways to cope such as: running, singing, doing yoga, playing music, talking to friends, watching TV, or trying something new. Find your way; don’t get stuck with using your eating disorder, Ed, to cope. Find healthy ways, they are out there and they are worth it.

Take Up Space.

You are valued. You have worthy and you are more than enough. Be a presence and make an impact. Take up space in this world and do something with it. Truly use your body to live and not just exist. This lesson was hard for me to learn. I am a tall girl. And growing up I used to hate my height. I used to wish to be smaller so I could hide and blend into the background. One of the greatest lessons I learned in recovery is walking with my head up and shoulders back. Making all five foot eight inches of me seen. As a women we are taught to be delicate and fragile. But now, recovery had taught me to want to be strong and healthy. I want to take up all five foot eight inches of the world around me. Take up your space, do not be afraid to fill it.

Find Beauty in Imperfections.

You are beautiful. Every part of you. You don't have to be perfect. So find beautify in imperfection. Find artistry in uniqueness. And find strength in scars. Surviving is beautiful. Truly living life and not just existing is beautiful. Laugh lines and belly rolls are beautiful because it shows how much you have lived! Once you find your beauty don’t be afraid to celebrate it!

Stop Body Checking.

Before recovery, mirrors were my worst enemy. I would look at my reflection and zero in on the extra chub around the stomach or the jiggle in my thighs. When I looked in the mirror I became my biggest bully. I would say horrible things, putting myself down for the way I looked. The way I talked to myself was absolutely unlike anything I would ever say to another human being. During recovery a friend of mine taught me a lesson that I have kept with me. When you look in the mirror, look straight into your eyes. In your eyes, see your intelligence and strength. Instead of criticizing your body look into your eyes and see your soul.

Be Kind to Yourself.

You are never going to speak more to another person than you do to yourself in your own head. So treat yourself how you would treat others. Respect and be kind to yourself. You are still healing, it is OK to make mistakes and it is OK to take time for yourself.

Relapse Does Not End Recovery.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in recovery is relapse happens. We’re not perfect. We have to remember that we chose this vice because it gave us something. It was addictive because it provided a release. We used it to survive and cope for so long. So be kind and understanding to yourself, set back happens. It is OK. This does not mean your spiraling again. Give yourself a break and start again the next day.

Connecting With Family and Friends Again.

In the thick of illness it is common to avoid positive people in your life. Sometimes I found myself avoiding people in general. It was just me and my eating disorder, Ed. He became my only support and slowly isolated me from friends and family. But in treatment when I broke away from him and found my voice again, I saw what it was like to surround myself with loving people. I found that in recovery we all have loved ones that have been here the whole time, fighting for us every day, to be healthy. And sometimes that in itself is the reason we push them away, because we ourselves do not want to be saved. But trust me, being on the other side. Choose life. Choose family and friends. Stop pushing the people away who would do the most for you; because you never know they might just say your life.

Waking Up Hopeful and Thankful.

Ever hear of the metaphor, glass half full or glass half empty? I was a glass half empty kind of girl growing up. As I got older and my depression became worse, that glass got emptier and emptier until one day I woke up and it was completely empty. Recovery has taught me how to see the glass half full, by filling it every morning with positive thoughts. Each morning before getting out of bed, think of three things you are thankful for and two things you are excited or hopeful for. It changes your entire day by starting off with reasons why you are thankful to be alive.

Find your happiness.

Eating disorders are not about food. Eating disorders make us feel nothing. They make us feel numb so we do not have to feel the pain of living. Recovery has helped me find my happiness again and it has rediscovered my belly laugh. The greatest feeling is when something funny strikes you and you laugh so hard that no sound really comes out and you’re laughing so hard you are almost hyperventilating and suddenly it all comes out in a little snort? Ever feel that kind of laughter? You should. Find someone or something that makes you laugh with your whole face. I contribute a lot of my recovery to my boyfriend, David. He met me during the hardest time of my life, but he ended up being the one to save my life. Ever since I met him I have never laughed harder or been happier. Every laugh and token of happiness takes me one step further from the temptations of Ed and towards a life of happiness and freedom. Finding reasons to live a fulfilling life is what recovery is all about, I hope you rediscover your belly laugh.

Recovery is freedom. Recovery replaces unhealthy coping with healthy coping. Recovery encourages us to take up space. Recovery finds beauty in imperfections. Recovery replaces body checking with soul searching. Recovery teaches us to be kind to ourselves. Recovery teaches us to survive the relapses and how to move on from them. Recovery reconnects us with our loved ones. Recovery replaces depression and self-hate with gratitude and hope. Recovery is happiness. Recovery is worth it. You are worth it.