The Moment I Acknowledged My Disordered Eating

I smiled as my heart swelled with pride.  And then, suddenly, without warning, my heart sank as I saw myself reflected in her words.

Her recovery milestone was bittersweet.  I felt proud to see her conquer her battles, but a harsh reality immediately slapped me in the face.

I was reading about sustenance on an empty stomach.

I was reading about successful recovery with a wavering desire to heal myself.

I had spent years convincing myself that my maladaptive restricting behavior was perfectly normal, acceptable even.  That my disordered thoughts were symbolic of my strength and discipline, rather than a symptom of a mental illness.

In that moment, I discovered that with every movement, I felt lightheaded.  I realized I had spent the majority of my day drifting in and out of sleep due to the powerful fatigue accompanying my inadequate nourishment.  I was suddenly aware of the increasingly loud rumbling of my stomach, begging for satiation.

I could no longer deny the truth.

I am a disordered eater.

The perfectionism.  The feelings of inadequacy.  The desire to self-punish.  My lifelong, complicated relationship with my appearance.  

In a single moment, my symptoms collided with my reality.  It was a perfect mess, the orderly chaos of painful self-awareness.

Through my tears, I resolved to work towards healing.  At long last, I acknowledged that I am worthy of nourishment, that I deserve to take up space, that I am disciplined by virtue of my life circumstances alone and that my desire to heal, rather than my disordered eating, is ample proof of my strength.  I finally recognized that I am enough.

With my newfound desire to heal indelibly etched on my soul, I ate the meal I had previously attempted to withhold.  I could feel my energy slowly returning as the sustenance spread throughout my body.  Instead of longing for the gnawing emptiness of hunger, I relished in the sensation of wholeness that consumed me.  The idyllic warmth I felt as I sustained myself sparked my desire to heal from my disordered eating, to celebrate the progress and fight through the setbacks — one day, one meal, one bite at a time.

*Previously published by Thought Catalog at

Kelly Douglas

Kelly is an avid writer and mental health and disability advocate with a focus on personal growth. She is passionate about using her life experiences to help others. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world -- no matter how small. When she is not writing or educating others about life with disability and mental illness, Kelly can be found listening to music and cuddling her cat.

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