What Recovery Looks Like
By Hannah Addington
I don’t remember the exact day my mind started to shift. I don’t remember when the simple choice to eat began to consume me. But I do remember that drowning feeling of being completely taken over by an eating disorder.
It was the year of 2012. I had withdrawn from my dream school, UC Davis, to chase a dream I’m not sure was even mine. I became heartbroken. I became lonely. I became desperate to be a woman that a man would think was worthy of love, a woman that a man would think was beautiful, a woman that was thinner.
This desire slowly dictated my every decision, and slowly starved me. I was strong if I could just ignore the hunger. It was hard at first, but soon the hunger pangs became comforting. The hunger pangs were a sign of accomplishment, a sign of discipline, a sign of strength.
This hunger, this strength, started changing me physically. My clothes didn’t fit me the way they used to. I had to wear leggings under size o jeans. I could wear XS and still have room to breathe. I finally became that beautiful woman in my mind.
What was even better was people were noticing. People were noticing how thin I had become. My family noticed. My friends noticed. And the guy that broke my heart, the guy that didn’t want me, the guy that I wanted to notice most, he noticed. He said I looked great. And let me tell you, that one phrase was enough to keep me going; enough to keep starving myself.
I was 97lbs and 5’4” and I finally felt worthy. I thought I knew who I was, I thought I had control over myself, I thought I had control over what people thought of me. Looking back, I was a mess, an utter and complete mess. My happiness came from only eating 600 calories a day, from feeling hungry when I went to sleep, from hearing people say, wow, you are skinny.
Family dinners no longer brought me happiness. Instead I feared them. I dreaded going to restaurants and parties. Christmas, my absolute favorite holiday, brought anxiety. It was those situations in which I had to give up control. I had to eat something that I didn’t prepare. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t recognize myself anymore. Sure, I still kept a smile on my face. Sure I was still Hannah. But that was only on the outside.
I had become enslaved to my own body, enslaved to pride, and enslaved to lies. I was bound by chains that kept me from being the free beautiful woman of Christ that I once was.
The internal battle that I fought every single moment drained me to the point where I couldn’t live like this any longer. I had known I needed help for a long time, but it took a while to be ready to give up this comfort.
I went to the doctor at our student health center. She said a lot of things to me that day, but there is one phrase that will stick with me forever. If you do not gain weight, you will not be able to have children. I remember the sinking feeling in my heart. I remember being completely overcome by a feeling of despair.
I had dreamed of being a mother ever since I was a child. I thought about cradling them when they are crying, reading stories to help them fall asleep, baking homemade cookies for them after school. Most of all I desired to show them that unconditional love that my beautiful mother showed me. If I could not get better for myself, I had to get better for my future children. It was then that I chose recovery.
Recovery meant eating when I was hungry.
Recovery meant seeing food as nourishment, instead of poison.
Recovery meant going out to restaurants and ordering more than a plate of lettuce.
Recovery meant running because I love running, not because I ate something bad.
Recovery meant baking cookies and eating half the dough because it’s my favorite.
Recovery meant no longer counting calories in my head.
Recovery meant looking in the mirror and not scrutinizing every inch of my body.
Recovery meant seeing my body physically change, and being okay with it.
Recovery meant being grateful for hearing the words, You look healthy.
Recovery meant acknowledging the lies in my head, but not believing them.
Recovery meant falling when it was just too hard, but getting back up anyways.
Recovery meant choosing to fight through the pain, even when it was unbearable.
Recovery meant leaning on the ones who love me.
Recovery meant giving up control, but never giving up life.
Recovery meant having energy to finish my degree at my dream school.
Recovery meant surrendering all that I am to Christ.
Recovery meant finding my strength through Christ.
Recovery meant allowing Him to loosen the chains that bound me.
Recovery meant finally beginning to feel free of the lies in my head.
Recovery meant I am worthy, because I am His.
Recovery meant I am beautiful, because I was Made in His Image.
Recovery gave me my life back, and let me tell you… it’s a wonderful life.
To every woman out there who is struggling with an eating disorder, do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to finally let it go. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to be weak, because Christ will give you strength.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
P.S. You are enough.