the power of a photo in recovery

I really don’t want to publish this post. But if I want to be open about what anorexia recovery looks like, it includes this.

One photo almost took me down…

Roommate and I discovered that we were dressed exactly alike on Sunday night, thought it was funny (like how people who live together start to look more like each other – or their pets) and took the picture on the right. She asked if she could post it on FB and without seeing it first, I said sure.

February 2018 and March 2019

When I saw the tagged Facebook photo, my heart dropped and my anxiety shot up. 26 people had already “liked” the post, many of whom were people I knew.

My whole body shook and I couldn’t look at the picture anymore. I untagged myself so at least it wasn’t popping up on my feed anymore.

I lay in bed, shaking and twitching, the image of my “recovered” self etched in my brain.

  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m out of control.
  • I’m lazy.
  • I don’t care what I look like.

After a few weeks of “intuitive eating” and a more positive outlook on recovery, one photo has me thinking nonstop about restricting and losing weight.

I can’t lie: I want to look like the girl on the left. I can’t keep looking like the one on the right. She’s disgusting. She’s fat. She’s horribly ugly. She’s eaten way too many bad foods. Look what happened when she “enjoyed” herself and thought she had started becoming an “intuitive eater.”

Who is beyond the photos?

The person on the left was always exhausted, angry, fainting daily, socially isolated, and scared of living. Yes, she was skinny but she was the most miserable she had ever been in her life.

The person on the right got herself moved to Texas with a job working at UT Austin, right where she wanted to be. The person on the right laughs daily with her husband and enjoys ice cream with her daughter. She has gained weight, and also gained restored faith in a God who pulled her out from her actual rock bottom.

And yet, Ana calls…Ana tells me the person on the right is disgusting and the person on the left is ideal. One year into recovery, and with one photo, Ana can take me all the way back to step one.

Except she can’t…now I have my Fight Ana Toolkit:

  • I am a Christ follower, and I believe who He says I am.
  • Diet culture is a Life Thief and a bunch of malarkey.
  • Six years of dieting literally led me to the exact same weight, to the pound, as when I started (like for real, MyFitnessPal told me so).
  • Weight does NOT equal health – you cannot tell if someone is healthy by looking at them (thin is not auto-healthy and fat is not auto-unhealthy).
  • BMI is bogus – treating it as the ultimate measure of what someone “should” weigh is NOT accurate (did you know BMI wasn’t even created for that??)
  • Thinness as a beauty ideal is completely cultural, not actually a truth (check out what men find beautiful around the world) – also why do men get to decide what is beautiful? I call BS on that.
  • Diets don’t work. How do you think the multi-billion dollar diet industry stays in business? They don’t want you to actually succeed. Think about that.
  • Weight is NOT a moral issue. We are not good or bad people based on what we weigh. We do not get to shame people based on their weight. Halt the judgment, please.
  • What matters in life. When you die, are you going to be known for being thin or fat? Probably not. For the ones whose opinions you actually care about, when you die, your life will be remembered for who you were not your weight.

I would have written this post yesterday, as my usual days are Mondays and Thursdays. But I needed an extra day. Yesterday, I was stuck in Ana’s web.

Today, I am freeing myself.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I know it was hard but I needed it. You’re an inspiration and I wish I’d had a chance to know you better before you left.

    1. I’m so glad if I can be helpful! 🙂

  2. I’m so thankful to share life with you and so thankful you shareed this photo journey! Your candor is humbling and you are one of the bravest strongest humans I know!

    1. I love you so much!

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