Circumstances maintaining the virulence of eating disorders are in abundance: fashion magazines tout the ultra-thin, we’ve got a myriad of celebrity diets and pop-up ads declaring easy weight-loss without exercise, but the piece du resistance — pro-ana (pro-anorexia) sites celebrating and encouraging emaciation. In fact, when Caro died, it was a pro-ana site that posted her images with the tag line “die young, stay pretty.” On sites like this, recovery is the anti-goal.
Recovering from an eating disorder takes time, support, and patience. It takes acceptance of the fact that there will be good days, bad days, and days that fall in between. For me, it also takes the willingness to be transparent when transparency is usually not an option–this means I let someone know the tricks of the trade, so to speak, by sharing my “tells.” I have gleaned new ways and means of dealing with the lies my head tells me by being mindful about what I am feeling and thinking in relation to food. I engage in a loving-kindness practice when I eat, particularly when the day is rough. I regularly practice yoga, which directly brings my attention to my breath and body in a positive way. I share my experience, strength and hope whenever I can.
I’m deeply saddened by the death of Isabelle Caro. It reminds me of how precious our lives are and how invaluable it is to be healthy. Taking a step towards recovery has positive, life-changing consequences. Why enter another decade suffering needlessly? I encourage you to reach out, ask for help, and begin talking about what’s going on. I’d like to be able to look at Isabelle Caro as a beacon of change, not just a victim of this disease, her voice becoming a vehicle for awareness, encouraging us to get to a place of healing and recovery. Nothing is impossible!
My sponsor and my best friend both suggested that I get rid of my old clothes. They will never fit me again as long as I am healthy. I took their advice and began to bag up my eating disorder clothes and cried the whole time. It was intensely symbolic for me to say goodbye to them, and to my eating disorder– to acknowledge that I’m not going to be that underweight again. That I’m going to stay healthy. I felt like I could almost hear my eating disorder yelling “Noooooo!” as if it was a villain being shoved off of a cliff in a movie. Sometimes those ceremonial gestures are important, like I’m showing myself what is really happening.
This week has been kind of heavy for me, but now that it’s over I feel a certain levity. I know that there is still a lot of work to do so that I don’t lapse in behavior. I have to power through this challenging time. It was hard to say goodbye, and I know that this is part of my grieving process. It may sound weird to grieve something that hurt me so much, but it was my greatest comfort for many years, and it’s scary to let go of it. I know that I have a lot of love and support around me, and that I don’t have to go through this alone. And hey, I get to go shopping.