A young man's struggle
"In a world obsessed with physical appearance, looking "perfect" became the ultimate point of control for my emotional venting. If I could conquer my body, I was convinced I'd feel that I was a success.
As a 19-year-old man, my battle with an exercise addiction and eating disorder completely consumed my life. I refused to eat and tried to mold the shape of my body rather than addressing my emotional needs.
I experienced endless drive for perfection, an overwhelming state of anxiety, self-hate, and emotional pain. I isolated from family, exercised for harmful amounts of time, was fearful of food, and became physically and psychologically unrecognizable to my family.
In the early stages of my illness, I saw many doctors; but there were no answers, no diagnoses, and no acknowledgement, even from myself, that an eating disorder was at root.
I was looking at myself from the outside first, and ignoring what's most important: what's inside of me. While I was engrossed in my eating disorder, I punished myself through exercise and starvation and never thought I could ever be good enough.
After years of telling myself I wasn't "good enough" to ask friends and family for help; I finally was able to share my secret with those around me and finally, a doctor diagnosed my anorexia nervosa and compulsive exercise. At the time, it seemed like much more than a diagnosis; it felt like a life-sentence.
I could have died from my illness. Although my illness produced physical ailments such as jaundice, an extremely low heart rate, the process of my liver and kidneys shutting down, and even a heart attack, it wasn't enough for me to want recovery.
The truth is, there wasn't a defining moment I chose life. With the help of an excellent therapist, I began to experience moments everyday that made me happy. As they added up, I started to put my life together again.
I finally understood that my recovery was up to me - it became a choice. Building my knowledge about eating disorders and choosing to not back down during hard times, is something I have to tell myself to do, over and over and over again - everyday.
Recovery can be terrifying. Regardless, this ongoing process reminds me that even the smallest of victories, accomplishments or successes can bring about great joys, motivation and opportunity for change.
My personal struggle has been a difficult journey - worth taking. I've come to believe that there is something powerful about saying, 'I finally shared my secret.' I realized it was no longer mine to keep. It had now involved and affected everyone close to me. When my exercise and eating habits took over my life; it didn't end my life to share my insecurities and shame - it began my journey back. I would encourage everyone to discover what it truly means to feel good again - just as you are."
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