Why I'm Grateful for my Eating Disorder
My Eating Disorder took a lot away from me. My friends, my hobbies, my emotions, and almost my life. But through the recovery process I've learned more than I ever knew about myself. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
How beautiful is this selection of ceramics? Those who follow me on Instagram know that I am currently spending a week in The Hague. I kinda like to see it as a mini-vacation, as I'm out of my usual routine in Utrecht but at the same time, so close to home! I packed my things and took the train to Den Haag on Sunday, and I've already been enjoying my time here so much. My mom has a small house here near the beach, so that's where I'm currently staying! Funny enough, it's the house I came home to after I was born :)
Which brings me to my childhood...
When I was little, my dad used to call me rainbow girl. The only 2 things I would ever draw were rainbows and castles. Why? Because they were symmetrical. I didn’t have to worry about uneven elements, messing up a certain aspect, or in essence: failing.
From a young age, I was afraid to fail. I feared failure so much that I would do anything to "make sure" I couldn't fail. Trying to please EVERYONE, whether that was my parents, friends, teachers, coaches, etc. I seriously could not stand the fact of someone not liking me, so I tried to control it. Obviously, this expectation bar was unattainable, something I unconsciously realized this I became older. But what I was also unconscious of, was that this control took hold in other areas of my life. I color coded my closet, alphabetized my bookshelf, and when we had guests over to eat, I would line up all the shoes from large to small. When it was my birthday, I gave all my friends a list of the EXACT things I wanted several weeks in advance to make SURE they would bring me the perfect presents....yeah, I was that annoying friend, and I knew it! But I just couldn’t stand the idea of things not being perfect.
Perfectionism and Eating Disorders
I think my strive for perfectionism is one of the main reasons I got an eating disorder. From several individuals I've connected with on Instagram, YouTube, as well as with clients from my 1:1 Coaching Program, I've learned that perfectionism is a common phenomenon among those who struggle, have struggled, or even will struggle with disordered eating, exercise, and/or body image. I’m NOT saying it’s the cause, as an eating disorder is influenced by countless aspects (even genetics!!) but turning to food and exercise was definitely a way for me to control the fact that PERFECTION is unattainable.
But again, this was unconscious. I tried to control my food (along with grades, sport performance, and more) because I was simply unaware that this wasn't going to provide me the control I so badly wanted. In fact, it resulted in quite the opposite. I LOST control over myself and my life because I had become slave to food rules, exercise routines, and rigid schedules. My struggle with an eating disorder, and essentially my journey to recovery, was one of the most difficult journeys I've ever had to endure. However, I'm grateful for my eating disorder.
How can you be grateful for a mental illness?
To be honest, I didn't EVER think I would be saying that I have gratitude for an illness that nearly KILLED me. For the longest time, I was angry with myself and my disorder. I was angry because of the thoughts, angry for stunted growth (I have barely grown since I was 11 years old), angry because of all the friends I lost, angry because of the experiences I had to miss out on...in short, I lost A LOT due to my eating disorder. But throughout recovery, I arguably gained even more (and no, I'm not talking about weight!).
My eating disorder journey made me a better person. I've learned so much about myself, things I might have taken a lifetime to learn if I hadn't gone through the struggle I did. I’ve learned to set boundaries, I've discovered that I am simply not a party person, and I've learned to ACCEPT the fact that I have different preferences that others. I've learned that perfectionism doesn't exist and it's okay to be human! That means making mistakes, falling down, and everything else that happens to the best of us :)
The gratitude for my eating disorder ties into gratitude I know feel in several areas of my life. Each day, I am so grateful for things other people most likely take for granted: food freedom, being able to go out to eat, not being consumed by thoughts, taking rest days, going on vacation, being able to FOCUS...the list goes on! These are all things I will never take for granted because I know what it's like NOT to have them. And of course this post would not be complete without expressing gratitude towards anyone and everyone who reads this post, helped make Carolina House possible, follows me on Instagram or YouTube, or contributes to Liv Label Free in any other way. Love you all so much!
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