Hillary shares with us a story of the development of her eating disorder, her vulnerability and she shares her struggles throughout recovery, and her strength as she embarks on motherhood. Hillary gives us a realistic idea of what recovery truly looks like, and empowers us all to perceive recovery as something that is ongoing. I appreciate her honesty about the challenges she still faces, and also am inspired by the control she has over these hard days. Hillary perseveres and I am so confident that she will be an incredible role model for her daughter.
Recovery from an eating disorder is never easy. Never. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. As a 12-year-old suffering from an eating disorder, I didn’t choose recovery. My parents did everything in their power to get me in to treatment center after treatment center and hospital after hospital. Now, as a 24-year-old, I am thankful they did. But at the time I hated it. I never wanted to be in treatment. I never wanted to get help; I never CHOSE recovery. I would go in to treatment, stubborn at first, then reluctantly claim to want recovery and work the program until my time was up and I could go home. Once home, I always fell back in to old eating disorder patterns and behaviors.
In high school it seemed as though my recovery was going well. I was eating; actually, I was over eating… I enjoyed my time with friends and I enjoyed food, but this wasn’t recovery. I had gone from using not eating to over eating, and every single day I struggled. I hated myself more than ever. I was severely depressed; I was self-injuring to punish myself for eating so much. I was miserable. Again my parents sought out help, and with the guiding hand of a local doctor, I was put on new medication to help with my depression. Things started to look up, and in the summer of 2010 I moved to Chicago to go to school. My first 9 months up there I struggled some, but I was eating, overeating even. I lived with 3 other girls in my school’s student housing, but that was dreadful, so I moved in to my own studio apartment. I don’t know what exactly triggered my spiral downward, but again I went down a path of severely restricting, over exercising, and self-injuring. I ended up having to drop out of school and move back home before entering treatment yet again. I hated it. I hated every thing about my situation. But again, I didn’t really choose recovery.
Once out of treatment I met my now husband and we started dating. I had ups and downs, and I still struggled. I’m not really sure what finally changed in me, but one day it’s like I woke up and asked myself, “Why do you keep torturing yourself? How is this eating disorder benefiting you? What’s wrong with eating foods you enjoy? Aren’t you exhausted?!” I finally realized after years and years of treatment, that I was truly exhausted of living a life that revolved around food, or lack there of. I was sick of having a meltdown after every meal, I was sick of crying every day because I hated myself, I was sick of being sick. I had just gotten married, I had new career opportunities on the rise and I was ready to face recovery.
Recovery is ongoing
For me, recovery isn’t a one-time thing. I believe that every day I am living in recovery, and that for the rest of my life, I will be living in recovery, hopefully with very few slip ups along the way. Today I am in a place I never imagined I would be in my life. I am happily married, living in my hometown where my husband and I just bought our first home together, and I am pregnant with our first child. I am so blessed to be here, and so thankful that I was able to get to this point in my life. Many who suffer from eating disorders aren’t as lucky.
Recovery is now more important to me than ever, as I will be welcoming my daughter in to this world in just shy of two months. If there one thing I want to do for my daughter, I want to raise her to have self-respect and confidence. I want to show my daughter that food is not our enemy, and our bodies are not our enemies. I want to teach her that our bodies are so spectacular, and can do things that are unimaginable. I want to teach her healthy coping mechanisms, and healthy living. In order to teach my daughter all of these things, I need to be practicing them myself, and setting a good example for her.
I never thought recovery would be important to me, I never even dreamed I’d be in recovery, but I am so glad that I am. Recovery has been the best thing for me, and I don’t regret it for one second. I still have days that are difficult, and I still have those eating disorder thoughts. It’s not easy; but trust me, it’s worth it.