4th of July: My Eating Disorder Independence Day
Honestly, the 4th of July never meant much to me. Sure, it is a national holiday to celebrate the Independence of the United States which is absolutely HUGE, but growing up with two Dutch parents that didn't resonate with the US culture and therefore not the holiday, I never took it close to heart. Being highly sensitive, I always associated the 4th of July as another "day to get through" with cheering crowds and loud fireworks, similar to New Year's Eve. For many, 4th of July really is a celebration, but for me, it was merely another holiday that simply didn't touch me.
That all changed when I was admitted to Carolina House on July 3rd, 2017. By that time, I had been struggling with disordered eating since 2012, when I was just the young age of eleven. After countless treatments, hospitalizations, meal plans, periods of weight gain, weight loss, and moving to a new country, I was told I was never going to get better. My disorder had rooted itself too deep, and I simply had to accept the fact that this toxic relationship with food and exercise was going to be a part of my life, forever.
Of course, hearing such a discouraging message from one of the so-called "best" psychiatrists in the Netherlands was quite a blow to a 15-year-old girl that was already so vulnerable. My life went downhill from there, losing all hope of anything and everything that could potentially pull me out of this dark shadow that had become my everyday. My life revolved around schedules, food, and exercise. Panic attacks became the norm and the family dynamics could have literally been named "crisis management" at this point.
Until one day, I decided I was done. I couldn't do this anymore. Well technically I could, but it would have been a matter of time until the choice would be made for me; my body's choice to shut down and let go. My eating disorder's choice to win and succeed in killing its victim which was me. It truly was a matter of life and death, and I wasn't going to let the choice be made for me. I wasn't going to pretend I was in control while this mental illness had the reigns over me. I DID NOT just spend the last 6 years of my life miserable, just to die and never have given myself the opportunity to really live. I was going to take action and I was going to fight like hell to see what life really was beyond an eating disorder; I was going to discover what it meant to really live instead of just survive.
And to do that, I asked for help. I feel like asking for help is often seen as being weak because it means you "can't do it on your own", but asking for help when you need it is quite the opposite of weakness. Asking for help means you want to make a change that is so HUGE that you NEED help to accomplish this change. And wanting to make that change? Now THAT is pure STRENGTH, my friend.
After intense research, phone calls, many tears, and raising $75,000 via GoFundMe, I flew to North Carolina with my mum to start my long treatment process at Carolina House Eating Disorder Center. I was admitted the afternoon of July 3rd, making my first full day of commitment to recovery on July 4th. It wasn't even planned this way, but the Independence Day of the US turned out to become my independence day from my eating disorder as well. A day that I will never forget and now, has a meaning that couldn't be any closer to my heart ❤️
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