My name is Erin and I am a lover of coffee, dry wit, scarves, sunshine, and cats. I also love to write, which is part of the reason that I started this blog to chronicle my journey of recovery from anorexia, in the hopes that others can relate to my words and find strength on their own journeys. When I was first beginning recovery, I struggled to find resources that weren’t triggering, and that I found I could relate to. I hope that my blog can be a place where full recovery is pursued, honesty is valued, and support is generated.
I grew up in Montana on a small dairy farm. My parents divorced when I was young, but they did their best to support my brother and me despite their separation. I enjoyed all of the things that a kid on a farm should be able to enjoy, such as finding puppies in haystacks and playing with ridiculously cute calves, some of which I was convinced I could train to be ridden like a horse (note: this doesn’t work). Although my parents’ divorce was relatively amicable and they both put tremendous effort into raising us, I know the instability of the separation made an impact on my kindergarten world. I was a deeply sensitive child, and I struggled to adjust to the changes happening around me.
Several years after my parents’ divorce, my dad remarried, and my stepmom was a painfully critical person in every way imaginable. I had grown up in a house of love, with few rigid rules, and her parenting style was entirely different from what I was used to. My dad and I had always been close, and I had an extremely hard time with this new relationship. Feeling depressed and angry, I turned to food for comfort and isolated myself. Ultimately, I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food. I felt that I did not deserve it, but I couldn’t stay away from it. I gradually gained weight over the next several years, raising concerns from loved ones around me. I went to doctors, tried Weight Watchers, and did just about everything else under the sun except for address the emotional pain that had led to my weight gain in the first place.
I struggled with deep insecurities in high school and middle school, and my overall self-concept was fairly poor, especially regarding my weight. I lacked confidence in my physical appearance as well as my intellectual abilities and value has a person. I had a high-achieving older brother, which didn’t help matters when it came to my inability to see my own value, and I tended to hide in the shadow of my brother rather than open myself up.
Following high school, I chose to go to college out of state, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made. In college, I thrived. I took classes I loved, found friends I valued, and grew tremendously as a person. However, I still had the impression that losing weight would make me more lovable and valuable. Although I had never been able to succeed at a diet program in the past, I decided to start counting calories and exercising during the fall of my senior year, determined that I would succeed.
At first, losing weight felt very much in my control. I wasn’t obsessive about exercise and my calorie counting was more about general estimates than fretting over every morsel I ate. However, over the next couple of months, I completely succumbed to the control of a full-blown eating disorder. And, because I was overweight, nobody seemed to notice. I lived under the guise that what I was doing was right for my body, despite that fact that I was hardly eating anything and regularly injuring myself through excessive exercise. And at some point in those months, malnutrition and starvation took over every part of my being.
Following my college graduation, my eating disorder continued expand its dominion over my life. Suddenly, every single calorie mattered. Ever single minute of exercise mattered. I lost weight rapidly and I felt that I could not stop. I hated the way I looked and hated the way I felt, but I was no longer the one in control. Although starvation was miserable, I was crippled by a fear of gaining weight and I felt imprisoned by my disorder.
On The Upswing
After several months of utter hell living in the depths of anorexia, I moved back home to work on recovery, which brings us to today. Now, I am a formerly overweight, perfectly imperfect, recovering anorexic. Each and every day brings about new challenges, but I am learning that recovery is worth the work. Along the way, I am also trying to learn the greater lesson underneath it all, that I am loved and worthy of love just as I am, regardless of my size or any other factor.
I hope this blog can help inspire and educate. I could never have imagined the living hell of an eating disorder until I found myself consumed with one, and I’m hopeful that my voice can add to the wonderful ones already out there who have lived through the pain and come out on the other side, recovered and thriving.