I am now nine years in recovery. It happened faster than I thought it could, the process I mean between fearing recovery, weight gain, etc. and being able to let go of the constant thoughts/fears of food, weight, exercise, etc. I used to think I could never recover. Of course, part of that was also due to the fact that getting help was next to impossible until it miraculously did happen.

It turns out that some of the professionals, including my psychiatrist, did not expect it to happen. Some even thought I would die instead of recover. I proved them wrong and myself.

Before recovery, I would often hide in a bedroom when at family gatherings. I was too depressed, dissociated, and anxious to be around them and the food. I did not like sitting there with them and trying to eat. I was not able to enjoy anything at all. I had many nieces and a nephew who for years I was not able to be fully engaged in their lives and build memories with them because I was struggling so much. I felt like a horrible person. Even some of my siblings seemed to treat me different thinking they were helping. I felt like a burden because I had to live with one of my siblings for several years.

I was not able to work and was on disability. My days were spent either at home watching TV, on the computer, or in bed and other days going to different appointments when I had some. I really had no life because every waking minute was spent struggling with thoughts of what to eat/not eat, weighing myself, exercising, fear/panic, dissociation, and just trying to survive it all. It was sometimes a one-second-at-a-time kind of day. I was constantly tired, dizzy, cold, and weak. Sometimes, even lifting my arms to wash my hair in the shower was a struggle. I had constant heart palpitations.

After recovery, everything changed. The first few years were actually quite amazing. I felt so alive and free. I was able to eat foods that had previously terrified me and was able to try new foods. My weight fluctuated throughout those years, but it was actually healthy. I stopped weighing myself and got rid of clothes that no longer fit in hopes that I *might* one day fit back into them. I learned to find new favorite clothes, though that was a long process because it took literally years to rebuild my wardrobe as my weight and body as a whole have kept changing. It is still a process.

I was able to take an online course and have now been working part time at home since 2009. It has been awesome. It has helped with my anxiety, so I can actually go out of the house more (usually anyway) compared to if I had to leave the house to go to work and be around people for 8 hours a day.

I have been able to be more involved in my nieces’ and nephews’ lives. It has been so amazing to build memories/new memories as the years have gone on. My grandparents have been able to see me as a healthier person and no longer have to worry about me like they used to. I am glad they gotten to see the new me.

I am so grateful for those who I have met along the way. Without having had that support, I don’t think it would have gone how it has.

Taking that one chance I had at treatment saved my life even though it was beyond difficult. I did not want my life to end that way though, and I knew that I had to give myself a chance no matter what it took. I am glad I did.

One goal I had for recovery was sharing my story with professionals locally who work in the field of eating disorders. I never thought the chance would come up, but it did. I have shared my story a few times now with several and have been involved in a committee to help bring new treatment options and make changes in the program in my area and surrounding areas. I have shared with them the gaps in treatment and how I had to leave my own country to get help so many years ago.

It has been a slow process of changing the system, but I have been so happy to be a part of it and also learn to use my voice even though speaking up has been difficult for me. The first time I shared my story/struggles in a room full of professionals, my voice shook, and I held back tears. I was more surprised though that people heard me….actually heard me and thanked me for sharing my story. That was the catalyst for the committee to hold a small group that included myself and a few others to talk about our personal experiences and also what led to a shift in some of the ideas for treatment options.

Recovery has been BETTER than I ever thought it could be.

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