I’m feeling in need of some serious inspiration right now. And so I’m going to take you on a trip through the past six months of my life; all the trials and tribulations, triumphs and successes, and failures and mistakes.
December 2015. Before I was admitted into treatment. You can see the toll anorexia has already taken on me. My cheeks are sunken, my skin is sallow, and my eyes look empty.
I’m smiling, but I’m not happy. I was living a nightmare.
January 2016. My first time being admitted to the hospital due to extreme dehydration and low blood pressure, as well as dangerously low weight.
I’m giving a thumbs up to the camera, and I’m putting on a brave face for everyone, but inside, I’m dying. I felt hopeless and utterly broken. I felt trapped. And for a time, I was. I bounced around between the hospital and inpatient several more times because I was unable to muster enough of a response to the demons in my head. Anorexia was really winning the battle, and I was suffering because of it.
The same is true here. Smiling face, thumbs up, yet no hope. No fight.
February 2016. My birthday month. I spent my 20th birthday in the hospital with an IV in my arm and an alarmed hospital bed set to keep me from moving and expending any energy. But it was here that I started to fight. I started to try and remember what life looked like outside of the tiny little corner my eating disorder had trapped me in.
March 2016. A month of transitions. This was when I left the hospital for the last time and transferred over to residential care for the first time in three months. I was terrified and still very sick, but determined never to return to the hospital again. I’d had enough of gowns, heart monitors, and meals in a hallway. I wanted to feel human again. I wanted my life back.
This image was taken on my very first full day of residential treatment. You can still see how anorexia has taxed me both physically and mentally.
Here you see me smiling as wide as can be on my first outing. This was the first time I had been allowed to walk around in the outside world in months. It was the first time I truly felt like I was breaking free of the chains my eating disorder had put me in. It was incredibly inspiring, motivating, and thrilling. And I wanted more.
Here’s a picture from my second outing. I’m all bundled up and dressed really too warmly for the weather, because I’m still sick. But I’m gaining strength. I’m gaining vitality. I’m gaining power.
April 2016. This was a month full of changes. It was where I made the transition from residential care to partial for the first time. It was where I decided that I would refrain from using behaviors. And I succeeded at doing so for quite a while.
Heading out to go to breakfast outing. My smile looks so much more real now. It reaches my eyes.
This is from my very first visit back to my house in months. I was allowed to go out on pass and experience something I hadn’t had the comfort of for a very, very long time. And it was extremely motivating. I wanted to live at home again. I didn’t want to waste away my days and my dreams in a treatment facility. I wanted to conquer my disorder.
Out to dinner with my dad. This was the first time in a very long time that I had put myself to the test of eating at a restaurant. This required me to gauge portions by eye and to order something that would meet my exchanges while faced with the paralyzing fear of eating food that was prepared in a way I was completely unaware of. But I did it. And this only served to increase my motivation.
I look so much happier here. So much healthier. You can see that I’ve gained weight, and it’s incredibly difficult to stay the course with this knowledge, but I kept on moving forward. I wanted a life without an eating disorder. I wanted to be able to step outside and enjoy the day without worrying about when I would have to return to a eating disorder care facility. I wanted to have my own life back.
First time braving the dressing room. These pictures are completely unedited; just me, in all my recovery glory, standing there and dealing with one of my worst fears head on. I was so proud of myself for this.
May 2016. I decided to do a photoshoot to prove to myself that even in recovery, I was still beautiful. I wanted to talk back to the voices in my head in a tangible way. And it was extremely difficult; I was very self-conscious, but also amazed at how the images turned out.
The girl in this photo looks vibrant and full of life. She looks so much more real than the shadow of a person that existed just a few short months ago.
Braving the dressing room for a second time.
First time eating ice cream in forever. This was an incredibly challenging thing to do, but I set my mind to it and decided I was just going to do it; Nike slogan the shit out of my eating disorder recovery. And I did it!
June 2016. Finally, a picture I took just today. You can see the weight gain. You can also see just how much of so many more important things I’ve gained: strength, happiness, courage, life, brightness, joy… I am so much more than just my anorexia.
I hope that this is inspiring to others who are fighting a similar battle. Never give up. You are so worth it ❤