By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
Multiple times a week on my Instagram account, I get a message where someone asks me ‘is recovery really worth it though?’
There was a time back when I was struggling with an eating disorder where I was unsure myself. I wasn’t too happy with my life in general and there were a lot of thoughts like, ‘if my life is going to suck anyway-does it even matter if I have an eating disorder?’
I know it can feel impossible at times and hard to believe when people who have recovered say that ‘recovery is worth it,’ so rather than try to explain the reasons why-I want to describe two of my worst eating disorder days (leaving out certain details that might be too triggering) and a snapshot of my life now.
My Worst Eating Disorder Days
I was anxious and crying a week in advance-anticipating my weekend away visiting my boyfriend (at the times) family. I was worried about having to eat food that I hadn’t prepared-and not being able to have access to a gym. I was terrified of gaining weight and felt like my world was about to unravel.
I remember feeling bone-chillingly cold much of the time. The kind of cold where it felt like I’d never feel warm again. I did very disordered things with food during that weekend-and my brain was hardly getting any nourishment. I felt ashamed of my eating habits-and hoped that I was inconspicuous enough that no one would notice, but they definitely did.
Every morning at the crack of dawn-I sprinted up and down the street in front of his house-trying to appease the part of me that was demanding that I exercise. It felt like taking time off from exercise was not an option. I felt so trapped.
I was constantly thinking about food and counting down the minutes until my next meal (in hindsight this is because I was starving). I could hardly think about anything else. Pictures were taken and I couldn’t stand the sight of myself.
I woke up with a puffy face, swollen cheeks, and a scratchy throat. I had spent the night purging. In that moment-I felt some ‘relief’ and like I finally had ‘a break’ in my day. But afterwards, I hated myself. ‘Please just let me die’ this pain is too much was the mantra that I repeated to myself most days. I felt utterly possessed by my eating disorder. I couldn’t see myself ever being able to stop and because of this I wanted to die. I saw no way out.
My Life Now
“Do you want pancakes-he asks?”
“Sure!” I reply.
He makes pancakes with blueberries and sprinkles. We eat them together drizzled with maple syrup as we laugh and then talk about our plans for the day. My mind isn’t ruminating on calories or carbs (or my body!)-instead, I am present, focused, and joyful in the moment.
Afterwards we snuggle together in bed catching up on The Bachelor-and crack jokes about the content.
I feel free. I feel at peace. And I am filled with gratitude to not have the shadow of an eating disorder hanging over my shoulder.
The Bottom Line
Recovery is 1 million percent worth it. My past life in an eating disorder pales in comparison to my life now.
Currently, I now a career that I love helping people to recover from eating disorders, an amazing group practice The Eating Disorder Center, an upcoming book on eating disorder recovery with one of my best friends, an amazing boyfriend, good friends, the ability to travel and be present in the moment, and a sense of peace and freedom that I truly never thought was possible.
Ultimately, I don't know anyone who is recovered who wishes that they could go back to their eating disorder. Life is so much better on the other side.
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The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also offer eating disorder therapy virtually throughout California and New York (NYC) serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.