Are You Ever "Cured" From Your Eating Disorder?
By Kirsten Kenward
Let’s discuss, shall we...
For me it all started off as an obsession with myself and my body. 'Improving' myself, 'improving' my body in order to fill some need I was unaware of at the time. A need that would take me years to become conscious of. At the time I believed I was ‘getting healthy’ in order to look better and to have people like me. Who has a similar story? Sadly, I’ve heard more than a few..
Looking back, it's easy to see that my rapid spiral into obsession with food and weight was caused by deeper motivations, but during the process it simply seemed like the only option. Life would be better if I was (insert body image related statement here).
As the years go by this way of thinking held on for dear life. Even as times of desperation and hospital-level sickness passed, the need to fulfill some ideal self-image remained. I no longer wanted to look like a stick figure pre-se, but I still couldn’t look at myself in the mirror with pride and affection. The remnants of the voice that once told me to move that piece of chicken to the other side of the plate for reasons still unknown to me or to stand up one last time while I’m trying to relax just to burn a few calories, had now morphed into an evil sidekick begging me to keep hating on myself. It's always there, haunting me further into self-hatred.
I began to realize that perhaps it was this same voice that first told me life would be better 10 more pounds lighter. That even though now it tells me how I won't get that job because the other candidate is much more qualified (and thin btw)…it's still here. It's morphed into a different but no less harmful form. Except now, I’m meant to be a functioning member of society. A full human who has 'beat' an eating disorder and come out the other side. But, most times, I feel like a total imposter. Like I’m constantly hiding a dark secret that even if I were to share, no one would understand.
So no, I don't know when it is appropriate to say "I'm cured from my ED". After 11 years, I can say that I no longer have the desire to starve or to have no body fat, but I still question my worth ALL OF THE TIME.
To be a light in the world, in the face of my inner darkness. And to embrace that this inherent fearful voice inside me, may never go away completely
My experience has morphed and through it I've changed into a totally different person than I was before I got sick. All I can do most days is to get through. To do my best to stay positive and be kind to myself. To be a light in the world, in the face of my inner darkness. And to embrace that this inherent fearful voice inside me may never go away completely; but at least I know I can survive and I can share, because my sisters out there will understand.
Because listen, what I’ve come to realize is that we’re all struggling, and no not just those who suffer from eating disorders, but all of us humans. We’re all fighting battles that we keep inside, hidden, and frightened of. If there is anything I’ve learned through my struggles and through my dark times, with and without ED by my side, it’s that compassion and love for others but most importantly for yourself, is the most important of all. Remember that it takes a great deal of time to build back trust with yourself, so do not rush that process. Be patient and be willing to face your demons head on, with kindness. And maybe one day, both you and I, will know that we can finally be okay, whether we are fully cured or not.
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Kirsten is inspired by nature and the diversity of cultures around her to write about what she sees and experiences. She has a Bachelor's Degree in History and English which she completed at the University of Toronto in 2012, though during this time struggled with anorexia and body dysmorphia. She plans to dedicate her life to awareness of mental and physical health and has been a certified Personal Trainer for over 4 years. She finds freedom and joy through physical endeavours of all kinds, as well as sharing her experiences through writing and dialogue.