I always knew this day would come. In fact, I arranged my entire life around it. I worked the two jobs at once, I went to school full time. I did the internship and a made a promise to the City and to myself: I will come back.
This past year has easily been the hardest of my life (I clearly haven’t been through much). I came out of my internship and back into my senior year of college with every intention of going straight back to New York upon graduation. Of course, you can’t always plan things so definitively.
Life got in the way, which is a super vague and tactful way to say I was starving myself to death and I needed to stop before it was too late. Instead of moving to New York a few days after graduation like I had hoped, I had to dedicate the next year to recovering and becoming healthy again. This isn’t something that was decided by anyone but me—I knew I couldn’t go to New York until I was fully ready, and although I had no idea where I was going to start, I knew I needed to at least eat a little more.
Recovery is something that can’t be understood until it’s experienced, which is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Recovery is stripping back every single piece of you that you thought you knew (but it isn’t the real you: it’s the anorexic you) and teaching yourself to love what you see.
We all handle it differently. Some of us can’t quite see the end of the dark, dark tunnel that is recovery and so we quit. We relapse. And the cycle continues on, and on, and on. I recognized this when I started, and as hard as it was, I did not let myself slip back.
With this in mind, going to New York sounded terrifying.
I had to change my plans. Although New York has always been my dream (and the only place I’ve ever truly, truly felt at home), it was also the place where I got really sick. Of course, I had been on a two-year downward spiral into apathy and appetite abstinence, but New York sealed it in writing: I needed help.
Of course, I’m not blaming my mental illness on a city. However, it didn’t help that I was completely isolated from the people who knew I wasn’t naturally that skinny, walking everywhere I went, and eating less and less each day. I knew if I were to move to an anorexic wonderland like this when I had barely starting recovering, I would have been in trouble.
I made the hard decision and stayed. I took a job nearby to get me started in my career and I dedicated every single day to working out less and eating more (doesn’t that sound ridiculous?). It felt impossible. I couldn’t see an end.
About two months ago, I recovered. Of course, not entirely. I still have issues in regards to body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety. However, I recovered physically. I stopped feeling weak, faint, exhausted and overwhelmed by the hormones that were coming back to my body. My period finally normalized. My appetite felt human again.
I got hired as a fashion assistant at Harper’s Bazaar last week, a gift seemingly rewarded to me for recovering and doing it well. I am 13 months into recovery now and I feel extremely ready to do this.
Jumping back into life and re-adopting the person you were before your eating disorder is a difficult thing to accomplish. It’s hard to know which version of myself I should be, so I’ve decided to become a new one entirely.
I’m not the person before I was before anorexia, nor am I the person I was during it. I am a woman now, and I’m ready to get moving.
I’ve had a few people express concern about me moving to New York when I haven’t been recovered that long. Most people saw the weight I lost when I was there before and they’re concerned I might go back.
Of course, this is a possibility. It’s always a possibility. But recovery is something I had to choose. In fact, it’s still something I have to choose. I did not have to get better, and I did not have to stay better. That was purely me: my own will to live a happy and healthy life. I choose recovery every single day, and I can’t box myself out of life-changing opportunities for fear of what I might do wrong in the future.
I know I’ve messed up in the past. I’ve hurt myself what I thought was beyond repair, but I still managed to bounce back. I have hated my body and myself and I’ve wanted nothing more than to waste away. But I trust myself now.
On March 4, 2017 I chose recovery. I chose life. I chose to pursue what makes me happy, regardless of what my body looks or feels like. I promise to always choose recovery.
You have to have faith in yourself to stay well.