Thankful for Recovery: The Journey, and Reaching the Destination

Thanksgiving 2010 I was so concerned about having enough “safe” foods at dinner, Thanksgiving 2011 I was eating my own separate “raw food diet” foods, Thanksgiving 2012 I was bingeing on pie in my bedroom.

Thanksgiving 2017 finds me excited to eat, happy, full, content, very few worries around food, and looking forward to the rest of the holidays to come. Eating disorder recovery was confusing and tough, but so worth it.

So what happened between 2013-2017?

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Building Happiness On Stable Ground

Last night I had a dream (nightmare?) that there were people out to murder me.

For reasons I cannot explain, I wasn’t too scared about this predicament. I was only sad about how little time I got to enjoy this “reborn” Rachael–the Rachael who is the happiest she’s ever been in her life.

Ever since this dream/nightmare last night, I began to contemplate what feels different about my happiness this past year compared to my happiness in 2010 when I claimed it as “the best year of my life.” It was a year of personal cross country and track records, school records, and immense joy while running.

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When Loved Ones Can’t Understand Your Eating Disorder

When I first told my mom about the eating disorder, she seemed to continually ask the wrong questions and make the wrong suggestions (“Well let’s step on the scale to see where you’re at!” and, “But did you throw up all your food?”). It’s tough to get off to a good start when someone hasn’t experienced an eating disorder. My dad probably had one of the most difficult times trying to break it apart.

“How can you physically keep stuffing in more and more food?” he asked one night when we had agreed to sit down to talk. “I mean, I get to the point where enough is enough in one meal.”

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Today, I Graduate

I entered college anticipating a chance to start over—a chance to bring out the person I had always felt had been trapped inside. I left high school as a depressed, eating-disordered, running-consumed, people-pleaser perfectionist who found out, upon entering college, that I still couldn’t let it all go.

I didn’t know how to let it all go.

I reached my dream in running with school records and All-American finishes as a college freshman, only to realize that this was not as fulfilling as I had hoped it would be; that as everyone praised me for my efforts, fear of the dissatisfaction I felt and a yearning to go to extremes haunted me in the loneliness of the disorder and perfectionist mindset.


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Rachael Recovered? Phases of My Eating Disorder, and Where I Am Now

[[[TRIGGER WARNING. Eating disorder behaviors mentioned]]]

I didn’t realize until recently how unhealthy and DISORDERED my mindset was these past five years–in all stages of an ever-changing eating disorder. After presenting about my experiences to my college a few times I’ve realized that when I talk about my past eating disorder practices, the person I speak of seems so different from the Rachael I know now. I didn’t realize how much I’ve changed because it’s been so gradual, but when I write it all out as I’ve done here, it becomes clearer than ever.

Restriction (2 years)

7 a.m.: Wakeup and the first thing you think is BREAKFAST. But you weigh yourself first, of course.

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“It Is What It Is” and Second Chances

I am still racing in college–in fact, after coming out about my eating disorder and starting this blog, I am only halfway through my college career. I have two more years!

At this point I see the final two years of college as a second chance–a second chance to compete for my team, to continue letting go of Rawchael (while remembering her too, for she has made me into the stronger person I am today) and to continue to become the best Rachael I can be.

A second chance to be able to live the college life free from (or at least lessened by) the burden of anxiety with food. I can’t believe I’ve been consumed with all of this for nearly four years now . . . and that’s often a short span of time for those with eating disorders. Through research I learned it can last ten years to a lifetime in some cases. And it seems early intervention is the key to recovery. In a way, trying a raw food diet forced me into getting help. But it still took a long time. Once I did receive more help, I saw that writing, analyzing myself, and getting the support and help from friends and family (i.e., talking a lot) sped things up.

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A Glimpse of Where I Am Now

It feels like it’s been a long grieving process; like a part of me was dying slowly before my eyes for the past few years and I had to watch it unfold. I just couldn’t let her go. No matter how mean, how frustrating, how deceiving that voice was, I could not let her go. Hadn’t she given me success? Hadn’t she brought me glory?

Or had I forgotten that there was pain and fear all along?

After gaining the weight back, I felt I had lost the powerful Rachael, the Rachael in control. And now I’m left with a blanket of fat to cover me up. Or is it the eating disorder covering me? Did I just need to let that past Rachael go? I felt like losing all the weight through restriction and gaining it all back plus some left me feeling that I lost a piece of myself. And every day I thought about bringing her back to life.

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