Fighting Anorexia: A Survivor's Story

Summer 2008, about 4 months into treatment.
Summer 2008, about 4 months into treatment.

If you caught a glimpse of me walking down the street today, you might notice that I'm a tall-ish young woman, wear glasses, sport what my students used to call "boy hair," and am fairly fit and muscular. You would never guess that a year ago I was emaciated, that my body had trouble healing even the most minor scratches, and that I suffered from constant cold. Why? Because I was caught in the midst of the mental illness known as anorexia. But somehow, I'm still alive. And not only am I not dead (no small feat for some of us who struggle with eat disorders), but I'm thriving. I have come out of the very real slavery, darkness, and isolation of anorexia. Daily I discover so many things about myself and about life that I absolutely love and that I was missing out on because of my anorexia.

My story was not always this sunny, though. At times, I longed for death. I wanted to be alone, friendless, and for my husband to divorce me so that I could just be anorexic and (I thought) be happy. I cut myself off from family, friends, and my faith. I kept going to therapy, but half-hoped that my therapist would shut me up in a hospital where I wouldn't have to decide anything for myself. Somehow, against all the odds, I never gave up the struggle to get healthy -- and I succeeded. There were many, many times, however, that I wanted to give up, that I thought I should simply give in. If you or someone that you love has ever felt this way, here are some of the benefits, from my personal experience, of beating back the darkness brought by eating disorders.

I have secured and kept a full-time job working with elementary students with severe behaviors (violence, spectrum disorder stuff, fallout from abusive/absent parents, etc.). I've gone from hating my job to loving the kids, and even willingly chose to continue working with them last summer. I've completed my eating disorder therapy and maintain appropriate health, weight, and exercise and eating habits. I even miss chatting with my therapist

My marriage has transformed from pointless and painful for my husband into a real, living relationship that is growing stronger each day as we learn how to communicate with and love one another. I've not only stopped ignoring God, but am actively putting Him first by prioritizing my time with Him above my early morning exercise (that was a big and very recent step for me!). I also am seeing the value in friends, neighbors, and just people in general. I don't want to be alone anymore! I want to have friends, be with them, and care about them more than what I put in my mouth. I'm now rekindling lapsed friendships and trying to start new ones.

I'm excited about having a family. What's more, the hubby and I consider ourselves healthy enough (both in terms of my eating disorder and our relationship, which suffered greatly as a result of ED) to start trying for a baby. We are praying that my anorexia has not ruined my body's capacity for procreation.

I've turned my exercise into something that I compulsively do into something that I do responsibly for fitness and for training purposes. I've now run in two 5Ks and two 10ks, and I've competed in a sprint triathlon! I now see my body as strong as opposed to something to be controlled, and nourish it so I can do these active challenges that I so enjoy. I've also gotten my exercise down to a normal level. I take rest days. I don't workout more than 10 hours a week, and average much less.

I love how healthy and strong I look -- and feel. When I look at pictures taken of me in the midst of my eating disorder, I'm shocked at the difference between then and now. I look so thin and wasted in those photos, yet at the time I thought I was the embodiment of beauty. Although I still worry about getting a muffin top, I much prefer this "new" body, complete with padding in all the right places and breasts and, yes, even a little bit of a tummy.

I love life post-anorexia. It's not always easy, but the struggle is worth it -- every drop of sweat, every seed of fear, every pound lost or gained. Battle on!

Summer 2009, getting ready to swim, bike, and run in my first triathlon.
Summer 2009, getting ready to swim, bike, and run in my first triathlon.

Talk back! Has disordered eating affected your life in any way? 16 comments

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Life is precious, betherann. Sometimes, I feel hopeless due to family problems mushrooming my environs, but I persevered. We just have to believe that there's a Higher Being destined to guide us always whenever we're down and facing difficulties in life. Kodus to you and thanks for visiting my hubs:)


betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana Author

Thanks for your encouraging words, travel_man. :)


Missi Darnell profile image

Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California

Thank you for sharing your story. Amazing! Know that by you laying it out there for others will inspire and help. Rated Up!


betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana Author

Thanks, Missi! I appreciate your encouragement.


theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

What a powerful hub and inspirational story. Congratulations on getting through and for doing a triathlon. Such an impressive accomplishment!!


betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana Author

Thank you, herbivorehippi! The triathlon was a lot of fun (and much more than I expected).


coffeesnob 6 years ago

betherann, I could hug you! I thank God for your choice for life. I am exicted for what God has done and will do through your life....press on, you ARE beautiful...

CS


betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana Author

Thank you, CS!!


Dominionmaster2 profile image

Dominionmaster2 6 years ago

Nice piece of work betherann, I am impressed very nice. Sorry it took me so long to read you. :)


Anaya M. Baker profile image

Anaya M. Baker 6 years ago from North Carolina

You look fantastic in your after picture! Thanks for sharing your story :) I could relate to it in a lot of ways. For years I was terrified of getting a tummy. Now that I finally have one, I'm rather fond of it. I named it "Charlotte," which my family thought was just me being a goof. But the name really helped me to see the extra padding as something to accept rather than resent.


betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana Author

Anaya, that's a really cool idea, naming your belly. Great thought, thanks!


chenderson00 profile image

chenderson00 6 years ago from South Carolina

Very powerful story! You give so many people hope with this story. Thanks for sharing and being so open :)


betherann profile image

betherann 6 years ago from Montana Author

Thanks, chenderson.


Ellen D. 5 years ago

I've recently overcome the anorexia phase, too. Thank you for your touching words and encouragement. It brings comfort to know that I'm not alone in how I've felt over the course of my illness.


Fernanda Torres 5 years ago

Hi everyone..I'm from Brazil and I'm fighting anorexia as well.. I would like you to please write me about all the phases because right now I just feel nauseated all the time.. If you could send me an e-mail or something, it would be perfect, because in Brazil we don't have pages such as this.. is nandalovecdc@hotmail.com Thanks!


betherann profile image

betherann 5 years ago from Montana Author

That's excellent, Ellen!

Fernanda, I recommend checking out the NEDA page for info: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

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    All writing copyright of Beth Morey, 2009.  Previously published on Associated Content. Reproduction/reprinting is prohibited, although linking to this hub as an information source is permitted.

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