Mental Health

For All Those Who’ve Struggled With Disordered Eating & Beyond

It's time to rise stronger than ever before

Life isn’t easy and to cope with this truth and the subsequent struggles it presents, we seek control. Everyone has their different ways of dealing with pain. The things you do when you hurt, don’t define you. The ways in which you try and recover, that’s what makes you who you are.

My Journey & Letting Go of Your Shields

For the past three years I’ve hurt. A lot. Depressive episodes, disassociation, and anxiety have taunted me for longer than I’d ever imagined and still persist on my dark days. I’ve wallowed, risen up, and fallen harder then before.

We all go through different types of pain. They are our greatest gifts for struggles teach us far more than blind happiness and convenience ever can. However, you must know when to let go of these fabricated “friends.”

Unknowingly I have clung to coping mechanisms and destructive thoughts and behaviors that no longer serve me. I believe we all indulge in such behaviors in one way or another. Letting go of the things that aided your survival during the darkest moments of your life isn’t an easy process regardless of how destructive these behaviors may be now.

In order to fully grow, we must first leave behind these shields we’ve held up for so long. Everyone’s is different, but I’m sure as you read this you’re peering over your own.

For me it’s relentless disordered eating, wildly distorted and negative body/self image, and clinging to those who hurt me. I write words upon words of self-love, listening to your body, and following your own path but find myself struggling to do the bare minimum of what I suggest for others.

I don’t maintain that these words come from a place of hypocrisy but more of a desire for others to circumvent all the struggles I deal with on my own. But if I want to do this to my fullest capacity, I need to let go. I must begin making concentrated efforts to heal and leave behind that which unnecessarily ties me to my past pain.

So, for any of those who have struggled with eating disorders or a shield of their own, this is for you. I hope my pain can bring you comfort in knowing you’re never alone. We all hurt more than we probably let on. Share your feelings, honor the ways you deal with them, and help others through helping yourself.

Dear E.D., 

I’m done with you. You’ve controlled my life for three years. You’ve told me I’m unworthy, robbed me of emotional and physical joy and nourishment and secluded me from all that I love and value. The times I stayed home to cater to you or left events because of your overwhelming demands of what I should and shouldn’t eat are over.

Rather than living for myself, I’ve been living for you. Every waking moment I’m consumed by your relentless demands and judgements. I’m never alone, as you incessantly watch and criticize my every move.

I’ve tried to drop you so many times but you’ve always found a way back in my life, taking advantage of me in my most vulnerable moments. For years I starved for the acceptance I thought you’d bring me, but it never was enough for you was it? One more pound and then I can move on, 500 calories left and then I can smile like everyone else.

I ran, walked, biked, and did all the heavy lifting but I was never fast enough, never strong enough to out run you.

You felt like home in the most deranged way. When chaos surrounded me I could always come home to the game of chasing your satisfaction. It soothed me because if I tirelessly relied on the validation you may one day bring me, I didn’t have to face the reality of life’s other demands.

Whether you feed them or starve them, the demons persist. You were never an antidote but a bandaid for an unraveling mind and soul.

But today, I choose me. I choose strength. No more will I put up with your charades of affection and promises of acceptance because I accept myself. I will try to love myself too; for who I am, for what I do, for all the things I contribute to this world independent of the amount of space that I take up and how much or what I consume.

I know you will always be a part of me, a whisper in my mind, but I can choose who I listen to now. Although you may be speaking, even screaming, for me to listen, your time is up. You’ve walked with me through the greatest pains of my life but not until now do I realize you augmented my burden.

Letting go of you is embracing a happy, hopeful future. A life full of love for myself and the capacity to love and serve those around me as well.

This means family dinners more concerned over everyone’s beautiful stories and souls than what’s on my plate, swims in the ocean, basking in the sun and salt and embracing each and every line and wrinkle and fold because it all brought me here. A life like this is one without you in it.

So, goodbye. I feel as though I must say I wish you well but I wish you nothing at all. May the power you had over me never touch a single soul again. We all deserve love, nourishment, and fulfillment. May no one ever have to bear the burden of your presence again.

May every single soul inhabiting this earth know that they are loved beyond measure, and that they can love beyond measure everyone around them, and most importantly themselves.

Better without you,

Sarah

Say Your Own Farewells

No matter your struggles, no matter your shields, you can let go when you feel it’s time. Write a letter to your struggle, coping mechanisms, and beyond.

While this by no means indicates you’re “cured”, it is an extremely therapeutic exercise. You will immediately notice a weight lifted off of you. It’s a step in the right direction. An act of love for yourself and unconditional permission to move past your pain and your past and everything tying you to it.

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Also published on Medium.

Sarah is a sophomore studying journalism at the University of Miami. She...