When people talk about eating disorders they almost always talk about its negative effects on people – emotionally, physically on pretty much all levels. We hear stories about other people’s experiences with this illness and we usually go away remembering the terrible things that happened during that period in their lives. I think it’s pretty safe to say that our thoughts are ones of relief that that period in their lives (and is some cases ours) is over, and they have moved on to bigger and better things.
But today I’m not here to talk about the years of my life my eating disorder has taken from me, or the damaged health I suffer as a consequence. I’m not going to describe the emotional trauma I felt during that time, or how it affected my relationship with others on every level. I’m going to talk about what I have gained from an ED.
They say there is a bright side to every situation, a light at the end of the tunnel is another way of putting it. But so often people fail to realize that in order to get to that “light” you have to go through that tunnel. For me, my ED was that tunnel. Living through it was hell, and I would never, ever want to go back to that hell ever again. But now that I have reached the light, I realize that although my struggles with this illness has taken a lot from me, it has also given me something.
I now have a new appreciation for my body and health then I’ve ever had before. The few health problems I have remind me to take the time to take care of myself in order to stay healthy. If I overdrink, over-exercise, under=eat or under-sleep I feel the consequences almost immediately. And while some might consider this a bad thing, I see it as something positive. Many people lead unhealthy lifestyles for years and are able to ignore the mild repercussions of their actions. That is until they have serious, and occasionally life threatening and fatal, medical problems and complication. But by then a lot of damage has been done, and in some cases it’s already too late.
Another thing I’ve gained is a greater awareness of how I fuel my body through the foods I eat. I try to make wise, healthy choices on a day to day basis that contribute to my well being – both physically and emotionally. That means a hearty bowl of oats in the morning for my physical body, and an ice-cream dessert in the evening for my emotional “health”. Before developing my eating disorder I didn’t pay much attention to what I ate and drank, and I definitely could have afforded to make some changes in my diet.
And lastly I have gained a greater knowledge of myself. I feel like my experiences and struggles have made me relatable to a lot more people. Not only people with eating disorders, but people who have gone through intense emotional struggles. I feel like I have learned things about myself that I couldn’t have any other way. I know how strong I am, and how I can accomplish anything I want if I simply don’t give up. I realized that I cannot let the past and it’s events control who I am and how I act today. My quality of life has greatly improved because the difficulties I was faced with during recovery showed me how much I am loved and appreciated by those around me, and just how much they are willing to go through for me. The knowledge that there are people who firmly believe that the world would be a worse place without me is something I will forever hold near to my heart and treasure.
This is not in any way to say that my ED is something I would choose to go through voluntarily, or wish upon anyone else. But the point I’m trying to make here is that there is good in every dark situation and difficult experience we go through – if we’ll only take the time to look for it.