Hi, my name is Ashley and I am recovering from Anorexia Nervosa.
That has been my identity for so long. That has been my pride and my mission. My saving grace.
Since the age of 12 I spent my hours counting calories, restricting my food intake, recording everything I ate, weighing myself multiple times a day, consuming ridiculous amounts of diet coke, purging any food that felt like “too much” or “unsafe”, taking laxatives multiple times a day to make sure I got rid of every last thing in my body that escaped the restricting and purging, the list goes on…I was confused, couldn’t think straight, dizzy, constantly exhausted, always consumed by thoughts of food, calories, and weight, couldn’t sleep due to starvation, and felt the palpitations in my heart as I stood up or tried to walk up the stairs. I knew nothing but my eating disorder.
And some how, in the midst of all the damage I was doing to my body, I was able to get by. I went to school and work, barely making it through, but i did it. And as miserable and painful as all of that was, it was the easier than having to face my emotions and deal with the monsters from my past.
I’ve spent the last 3 and half years in and out of treatment centers, hospitals, outpatient programs, and support groups. I’ve seen months of great recovery only to always fall back into the depths of Ed (eating disorder).
And after all this time, I am in a place in my journey I have yet to experience that is probably the most confusing part of recovery I’ve encountered yet.
I have finally created a life for myself outside of treatment. I have an amazing job and work with wonderful people, I have the most incredible and supportive group of friends, I’m going out and having fun, I’m starting school again in the fall, and I am completely independent and living on my own. And I created all of this for myself without the help of anyone.
I am not willing to let my Anorexia take all of that from me and I feel so passionately about that.
So I eat, I go to work, I talk about shit that sucks, I have fun with friends, I pay my bills…
And because of that, I am flooded by my past, all the trauma, pain, fear, anger, and sadness.
And I can’t run from it anymore because that would mean going back to Ed, and if I do that I lose everything else, all the good along with the bad, and it’s just not worth it anymore.
But then there are nights like tonight when all I want is to feel the hunger and obsess over the food, calories, and weight so that for just a moment I can have some relief from monsters in my head…
But it’s not an option. It can NOT be an option for me anymore. My body can’t physically handle it because of all the damage I’ve already done and I can’t lose this life that I finally have and love.
So I wake up every morning and I do what I need to do and try to have fun to forget, but while everyone sees the smile on my face and the laughter in my voice, no one has any idea the pain behind it all.