• Maggie Dunsford

When You're Going Through Hell

Trigger Warning: this post discusses eating disorders and symptoms.

I recently found myself standing in front of a full-length mirror, naked and dissecting the body before me. The body seemed too excessive. There were too many rolls and stretch marks. It wasn't a tiny and graceful body, not the kind of thing you'd see in a magazine. A sudden disgust and even hatred welled up in me, and I felt that I had to do something about the body in front of me. My old bag of tricks sang in my head: binge, purge, starve.

I didn't do any of these things, thank God, but for a moment, the ghosts of my past called to me, instructing me to pay penance for an imperfect body. Part of me wanted to throw myself back down the rabbit hole straight into self-destruction. For a moment, self-destruction seemed safer than living in the skin I felt so uncomfortable in. Being in recovery from an eating disorder is hard, even after all this time. I genuinely am doing well, but sometimes the once familiar voices creep back, and I wonder, briefly, what it would be like to go back to my old ways.

Going back is not an option, and so I stumble blindly forward. I eat every day, and I don't run to the bathroom after it begins to digest. The problem with eating disorders is that they have both physical and mental components. Just because the physical symptoms cease (starving, bingeing, purging), the underlying voices that caused this mess to begin with, do not silence. I still dislike the way I look, but I'm usually able to focus on more important things. Not every day though. Some days I don't stand a chance against the inner critic.

Still, every day I get up and I eat three meals and I continue living. I don't think people without experience with an eating disorder can know how hard this is. The fight is hard, but it is so worth it. My hardest days in recovery are infinitely better than my best days in sickness. Even when things get hard, know that there are brighter days on the horizon. You may fall, again and again. But keep getting up.

Recovery isn't linear, healing doesn't occur on a straight line from A to B. Getting better is the hardest thing I've ever done, and it's still sometimes a windy ride with potholes and roadblocks. But I continue because there is no other way.

I want you to know that no matter how dark things get, there is a way out. There are going to be bad days and there are going to be good days. Hold onto the good days, the memories, the love.

You are so much more than your body; you are more than the sum of your parts. I know how hard it is to find love within yourself, but it's there. I used to believe that my body was flawed and bad and too much. Armed with this belief, I waged a war on my body in an attempt to destroy it. I never considered the possibility that perhaps it was not my body that needed to change. Instead, it was my perception.

Loving yourself is hard as hell, but it is a mindset anyone can get to with work, and therapy, and support. There is nothing wrong with you as you are. I would do anything to prevent people from going where I have gone. An eating disorder is a hell I would not wish on anyone. Through the bad days, I hope you remember that when you're going through hell, keep on going.

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