Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Train. Fight. Heal. Repeat. This is My Story
Life is of great value, and when we take a deeper look, we can see that everyone has a story, full of unique and microscopic events that are important, that have shaped their very being. And as they are alive and breathing, their story is yet to be completed. At Conscious, we want to explore the lives of individuals on a personal level, and see the world through their eyes. February marks Eating Disorder Awareness Month, and to continue the conversation, we are sharing Meg Burton's story of struggle to strength.
Train. Fight. Heal. Repeat.
I am going to jump right in and ask straight away for you to do something. I want you to close your eyes and think of a person you admire. It can be a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a family member, anybody.
Hear me out: Stop looking ahead and close your eyes for just one moment and think about that person.
What words popped into your mind? I know for me, I think of words such as: amazing, intuitive, caring, loving and funny. I bet words or phrases such as big boobs, thigh gap or toned stomach didn’t pop up in your thoughts.
My struggle with my eating disorder began around the age of eleven. Despite recognizing all of the amazing qualities I listed above in the people that I cared about, I held myself to ridiculously high external standards. Between the consumption of having to be the best that I could be at everything, and other emotional issues I developed, had allowed for my eating disorder to take roots.
Throughout treatment and recovery from my eating disorder, I had heard many times that food was just the symptom. Mentally, I understood this concept to a certain degree, but it never resonated with me. I simply thought that I would be able to just go into treatment, eat again and everything would be fine.
However, a person cannot eat when they don’t care about or love themselves. And that’s what it came down to for me. I hated myself and I couldn’t even fathom taking care of myself. How in the world was I suppose to maintain eating six times a day and not binge and purge in the moments where I was crawling out of my skin?
We live in a society that teaches you that it’s not okay to love yourself and fosters the growth of self-hatred. Over a year ago, at the beginning of the school semester, I was at a training event talking with a group of girls when one made a comment about my body. Instead of responding with the typical “Ew, what are you talking about? I need to lose like 10 pounds.” I stood there for an awkward moment and very questionably said, “Thanks…. I like my body too…?” This was the first time I had actually said anything like this out loud. And it felt good. It felt so good because I really did like and feel comfortable in my body.
I realized this climactic moment in my recovery journey happened because I finally got to a point where I was putting less attention on external factors and began focusing on internal factors. I started taking care of myself more; and in the beginning, the meant the gut-wrenching feeling of stopping the eating disorder behaviors. But the real work happened when I focused on things such as: finding the joy when laughing with friends again, going on adventures, finding strength when taking yoga classes. Oddly enough, all of this self-care lead me to uttering the words, “I like my body too.” I could finally say I liked my body because I began valuing my own character.
I can now tell you I love my bubbly personality. I love how easily excited I get about things. I love that I am able to engage with and crave deep conversations. I love my caring nature. I love my passion for life. And these are just a few things!
We all have our individual struggles. Mine came in the form of an eating disorder and yours may come in the form of something else. But I really believe many peoples journey comes down to learning how to love themselves.
From the wise words of Katie Willcox, founder of Healthy is the New Skinny, “Train. Fight. Heal. Repeat.” The battles that you are going through right now are all training. You may fight and fall down, fight and fall down. But I promise you that all of the training is worth it. Because from all of the training and fighting comes healing. Don’t give up.
Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept, and Live)
Recovery is possible but I could not have recovered without help. Thankfully I got it but many struggle. Eating disorder treatment is upwards of $30,000 a month and rarely covered by insurance. Many struggle to get proper lie saving treatment for this disorder. Project HEAL’s mission is to raise funds for their Help to HEAL Scholarship Fund which provides someone struggling with an eating disorder lifesaving treatment that they otherwise could not afford and insurance will not cover. Founded in New York in 2008 by Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran Project HEAL has since raised over $300,000, sent nine scholarship recipients to treatment and grown internationally through over 20 chapters. To learn more please visit theprojectheal.org.
From the Editor
At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight real human interactions and human dignity. You can read more stories like this when you pick up your copy of Conscious Magazine. Subscribe today via our Conscious Shop and sign-up for Conscious Updates.