June 15, 2022, noon
Trigger Warning for descriptions of disordered behaviors
When I think back to the days when I was in eating disorder treatment, I am always reminded of flowers. My life today feels so far removed from that time, even though it was those hard few years that led me to the feeling of tranquility I currently have. The seed of recovery was first planted in my mind when I was referred to the dietitian who helped me along my eating disorder recovery journey. Our times together, discussing food and body image, has shaped me into the person I am today; strong, confident, and free of the restraints otherwise known as anorexia nervosa.
However, I am only human. I still find myself having good and bad days – some days food bothers me, other days it is my body. Growing through these challenges requires me to sit back and reflect on what triggered these responses in my mind. Learning and understanding your own personal landmines will give you the power to shut them down in a healthy, non-destructive way. My own personal landmine which has been with me for over a decade is the mirror. My mind will tell me so many lies when I am standing in front of it, looking at my own body. But knowing my habit of “checking” my body for flaws, I have put up sticky notes on my mirror, to remind myself that I am beautiful, awesome, and more than just a body. I also have a wonderful mind and soul that has brought me so many valuable opportunities and experiences in my life. Learning and proactively challenging these landmines caused the seed of recovery to grow into a stem.
Accepting I have flaws, and that my body wasn’t the enemy, took years to acknowledge. Scouring social media for pro-Ana content, working out until I felt I was going to black out and wearing heavy sweaters, even during heat waves, were things I normalized in my life when I was anorexic, to work towards a “perfect” body. But what my 16-year-old self was unwilling to learn at that time was that no one is “perfect”. This idea, which circulates in the media, is unrealistic and not at all attainable. Once I was able to see that a balanced life filled with hobbies and foods I enjoyed brought much more peace and happiness into my life, I was willing to let go of my eating disordered habits which brought me a false sense of control. From here, the stem bloomed into a single flower.
Today, my garden of recovery is flourishing. Sometimes there are droughts, hurricanes, or rainstorms, but I have learned the tools needed to maintain my garden throughout the seasons of my life. Without recovery, I wouldn’t be writing this entry on my laptop, about to graduate from university. I wouldn’t be able to run, dance, or enjoy wine or pizza. Some days are better than others, but I am happy to report there are more good days than bad these days.
Amanda is a current student at Trent University. When not studying, she can be found producing radio content, reading, running, dancing, or baking up a storm.