Topic Tuesday: Anorexia
“An Open Confession from a Recovered Anorexic” (By: Maddie Lane)
If you struggle with mental illness, you will never find a statement to be more true than this:
It does not go away.
We can suppress it. We can hide it. We can make ourselves forget about it. But, no matter what we do, it does not go away.
Now, I am not saying that one does not recover from mental illness. People recover from mental illness every day. When one is actively seeking recovery, one is living in recovery. The problem happens when we stop seeking life in recovery, and we start giving into our mental illness.
I am going to tell you a secret: when I recovered from my eating disorder, I put the eating disorder in my past. I no longer associated with it. In fact, and I am sorry to admit this, I began to view those who struggled with eating disorders as lesser than myself. I recovered. I won. I was the best. My thought process was, “I only wish for you to succeed like I did.”
Then, earlier this year, I paid a visit to my therapist after months of not seeing her. I told her that I went on a specific diet because of a stomach condition I had possessed for a long time. Now, this was true, but when my doctor suggested it, he did not know my history with my eating disorder.
She gave me “the look.” I rolled my eyes.
“It has nothing to do with my eating disorder. I’m recovered. This is what is medically necessary.”
“Maddie, you are so clever, that you have turned your eating disorder into a socially-acceptable label and have actually convinced yourself that it is what is best for you.”
After this visit, I started to think, and then I realized: I had been struggling with depression for the previous six months, perhaps even longer.
However, my depression did not look how one might typically think depression should look. I woke up early every morning, I dressed nicely, my makeup and hair were always done, and I was more than on-top of the million responsibilities I had.
I also worked until I could not see straight, hardly attended outside actives that I once enjoyed, rarely saw friends, and had absolutely zero life outside of work and school. At the end of the day, I felt alone and empty. At the end of the day, I was depressed. At the end of the day, I had relapsed into my eating disorder.
And, the week I went to see my therapist, I finally realized it.
Now, I was not about to let myself sink further into the eating disorder hole. I was immediately on top of digging myself out of it by using my resources to seek help.
However, the danger I faced is that I had allowed the bad habits to manifest over a long period of time, all because I really did think my mental illness was behind me. All because I thought I was “over it.” All because I thought it went away.
Friends, mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. More than half of the world struggles with some sort of mental illness. If you are living in recovery, you are succeeding. If you are struggling, but seeking help, you are succeeding. If you are acknowledging your mental illness, you are succeeding. Do not allow your mind to tell you otherwise. Do not view yourself as weak because you struggle with something over which you have no control.
Mental illness does not just go away. You have to check up on it. You have to listen to yourself. You have to ask yourself what you need. You have to take time off. You have to create balance. You have to learn to care for yourself enough so that you do not relapse. Or, when you do, recognize that you are not a failure. You just have to pick yourself up and move forward.
So, here I am. Three years since I was released from my treatment center. Three years since my two-year stint in and out of hospitals. Three years of growth and success. Three years of failures. Three years of discovering who I am, and who I am not.
On paper, I should be “recovered.” But, I am not. I am simply living in recovery. And, often, I still struggle. When I struggle, my life will not stop. It does not mean I am going back to treatment. My life is still in tact. But, I am not perfect, and I struggle. And that is okay.
No matter where you are in your recovery, it is okay to be there. Meet yourself where you are at, acknowledge what you need, and never stop fighting for the life you want. Just know, success is fleeting. Getting everything you might want will NOT heal you. Only you can do that. You, along with your family, friends, and passions.
Those are the items that matter, and will keep you in the recovery game.
They are worth fighting for.
About the Author
Maddie Lane is professional performer and director based in Orlando, Florida. She has been performing at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios over the past seven years. Along with performing, Maddie is a senior journalism and political science student at the University of Central Florida. Maddie struggled with an eating disorder for ten years prior to entering treatment at Eating Recovery Center in Chicago, Illinois. Maddie has been living in recovery over the past three years, and enjoys using her writing to help others who are struggling.