Brooke, 22-years-old, is a strong, supportive, witty, and loving girl. No where in that last sentence did I mention anything about anorexia; and simply because when I talk with Brooke, I see so much more than her anorexia. After struggling with anorexia for 10 years, Brooke chose recovery. And with this, came the needed task of redefining herself, of discovering her identity again. Brooke has moved to Colorado to recover, and has built a new home there for herself; one that anorexia is no longer invited to be a part of. Brooke has the most will power and dedication to recover I’ve seen. Brooke is honest when she’s having a hard time, which only makes her stronger. I am extremely proud to look at Brooke now and realize that she WILL remain recovered. Thank you Brooke for sharing your story of recovery!
I am a firm believer recovery happens when the person WANTS recovery. Yes, it’s hard as hell and someone can want recovery and have all the intention to get well. However, deep down you have to find something to motivate you to recovery to have it continue. Do you want to live or die? Ask yourself this because in the end EATING DISORDERS KILL.
Living with an eating disorder for 10 years myself was completely miserable. It is such a dark life. A life full of secrets, tears, anger, confusion, low self esteem, scales, special moments missed, jobs lost and lots of money spent. I have been in countless treatment centers, I have spent my life at doctors offices, dietitian offices, and laying in bed thinking to myself “what meal is next?, what is healthier?, “if I eat this now I can’t have it later”, “I need to do something to get the approval to eat that.” My life went from being a strong soccer player, spunky, outgoing, and caring girl to a weak anorexic girl with no feelings. I wasn’t living. I was 10 minutes away from losing my life. It is a miracle to be alive right now and I will never debate on if I should eat my breakfast or not anymore.
You know, after years I can’t tell you the number one reason I developed an eating disorder. I can just say there are a few things that happened in my life that set me up to develop anorexia. Should I feel shameful that I developed anorexia? No. I did keep it a secret for the first couple years for fear I’d be judged and wasn’t worthy of getting help. I was slowly dying until I realized it was beyond my control and that I shouldn’t be ashamed of this. That is why to this day I am so open about my struggle and hope to inspire someone to get help if you’re struggling; to know that IT IS possible to recover.
The one thing I want to focus on in this article is you CAN recover IF you WANT to recover and GET HELP. I tried so hard to “do it on my own” and promised to eat more, wrote my parents multiple letters of promises of things I would do in fear I was going to be sent back to treatment. My anorexia hated treatment and told myself I would always feel miserable, that the only thing that would change is that I would gain weight. This meant I would just be a “fat miserable person.” Almost every time in treatment I just went through the motions…eat…participated in groups…said things I didn’t mean and was discharged from treatment too early. I came home and did well for maybe a month and started to restrict more and more every single day. One more crumb of something would freak me out. I had so many food rules. If one thing went wrong my whole day was ruined which resulted in me eating less than planned. My life was a cycle of going to treatment, doing well in treatment, discharging, going home, doing well for a short amount of time, and then relapsing.
This last April was the rock bottom of my 10 year cycle where I was so malnourished, depressed, anxious, and didn’t know if I wanted to continue my life. I have no idea how I was working, going to school, and even functioning. I hated my life. Every day it felt like a chore to just wake up and do things. It took me hours to do something it would take a healthy nourished person 10 minutes to do. It came down to being in the ICU then doing a complete cycle of treatment at every level of care ACUTE, inpatient, res, PHP, and IOP.
It came down to actually WANTING to recover for myself. I was willing to give it my all. I told myself I have nothing right now so I can “just try recover and if I don’t like it I can go back.” As bad as that sounds it helped me put my whole trust into God, my treatment, and give 110%… It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It wasn’t easy by ANY means but right now I DON’T want to go back to anorexia and it scares me more to almost lose my life then it does to stay in recovery. I remember telling my therapist “3 weeks and I’m out.” Little did I know I would spend 5 months in treatment fighting for my life. There were days I woke up continuing to hate life, days where I refused to finish lunch, days where I cried and cried and wouldn’t come out of my room. During those days I told myself “one day at a time. Don’t give up now.” These were the two statements that ultimately supported me.
All of this only led to today. Today I wake up happy. Today I wake up with energy. Today I am so happy I got up on my worst days and continued to fight. Today I look forward to ice cream. Today I go out to eat, I go out with friends, I work out and appreciate my body for what it does rather than pushing it harder than it wants to go. Today I find love, peace and passion for yoga. Today I wake up and get excited for breakfast, and I eat something scary and think about it for 5 minutes rather than all day. Today I go with the flow rather than need plan for every single thing. Today I truly embrace life. Today I have courage to go out to events alone and meet people. Today I don’t wake up in Illinois anymore but I wake up in a different state I moved to, which has been the saving grace. Today I look in the mirror instead of avoiding every single one with the fear of how you look. Today I laugh and am silly again. Today I have such better relationships with my family and friends. Today I continue to find things the real Brooke loves to do. Everyday is a journey and I am loving climbing this mountain.
What was different this time? I wanted recovery. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
If you want recovery, if you want LIFE, if you’re tired of being in such a dark place then just TRY recovery, go get some help, give it your all and when you don’t want to eat that last bite of your sandwich fucking do it because life is short and that one damn bite isn’t going to hurt you. Stop eating plain shit. Put butter on it because it tastes better and will make your skin glow and your hair healthy. When you can’t find hope, pray. I promise you will fall in love with life and become yourself again if you WANT recovery. It isn’t easy. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s SO worth it and so rewarding. Life is stunning. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. You are all you have and you are so lucky to be here today and have such a humbling, beautiful, resilient body. Treat it well.