I Am Not My Eating Disorder. I Am Me. I Am Strong.

re·cov·er·y

rəˈkəv(ə)rē/

noun

a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

Recovery for me hasn’t been so much of returning to a normal state of mind as it has been obtaining. Recovery for me has definitely been a journey and a half. My eating disorder started at a young age. In a way, the thoughts have been there as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until my adolescent years where I fully started acting upon them. My story includes some of the basics; trauma, anxiety, mental health issues, substance abuse and of course, nonetheless but heartbreak. My adolescent years were filled with self-hate, fueled by the notion that I would never amount to anything. In my eyes and my parents I was useless, a burden to the family, they’d be better off without me. Suicidal thoughts and ideation was something close to my heart for many years. I’d spend hours fantasying about how I’d go out.

My first hospitalized attempt I ended up going inpatient for my eating disorder afterwards. My best friend at the time told me repeatedly, “Tell them about your eating disorder. It’s killing you.” Looking back, I cannot describe how miserable I was due to all of my negative ways of coping. It definitely wasn’t just me putting these thoughts in my head but I was 100% guilty of believing them and continuing the story in my mind. I play the tapes every hour of every day. I wrote the words out with sharpie on my skin, I tore myself apart in the mirror, I was taught to hate myself and I ran with it. My parents were probably the least supportive people and they enjoyed me sick. Part of my recovery has been distancing myself from them.

I sit here in my Brooklyn apartment, married, with a job, a cat, and food to eat. Over a year since I left Rosewood. Looking back I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive team. I love everyone there. Staff helped me out more then they even know. Because of my circumstances at the time, part of my stay at Rosewood I was couch hopping, some nights with nowhere to go. As soon as the staff members found out they pulled resources together to help me find a place to sleep at night. My team never gave up on me and that was something I wasn’t used to in my life. I was used to people coming and going through my life. I was basically in a new school every year because of how much my family moved around, I was always the outcast. I had no real friends. I had no support system and the people I surrounded myself with up until I went to rosewood had all been using buddies. The notion of people sticking by my side genuinely wanting to help me get better was insane to me. It was such a foreign idea. At first I resisted I portrayed myself as the misunderstood nineteen year old. “No one could ever understand what I went through”. The idea was dissolved quickly into real relationships and connections I found with others. I became who I always knew I was capable of. Someone strong, but understanding, relatable, capable, compassionate, confident. Someone confident.

I used to hide under a façade, pretend I was better than others and could take on the world alone. After my stay at Rosewood, I’ve realized this was all a lie I was telling myself. No one, no one in the entire world can go take on life alone. Connections and the people we surround ourselves with is all we really have at the end of the day. At Rosewood I learned how to connect. I learned that being alone isn’t actually what I wanted. I realized I self-sabotaged every relationship I had ever had up until that point. I realized, and looking back I can see, I was just a sad scared little girl, hiding under heavy black eyeliner and loud music. Don’t get me wrong I still love these things, and there’s nothing wrong with the two I’ve just also learned how to embrace a softer side of me as well. I learned how to love, others, and myself.

To me my stay at Rosewood was so much more than just learning how to eat. It was learning how to live. Learning how to find myself and have an identity outside an eating disorder. I am not my disorder. I am me. I am strong.

Rosewood Santa Monica Alumni, Lily