I felt trapped. In my own body. I would look in the mirror and see all of the things wrong with the girl standing there in front of me, no matter how thin I became. I would go to the grocery store and become dizzy and stressed from staring at all of the nutrition facts before I put a food item in my cart. I would go to bed hungry as long as it meant I could feel my rib cage − and to think this all started when I was just 9 years old…
When I think about my struggle with anorexia and disordered eating, I recognize that it has been a constant battle for half of my life. I am not completely sure why it started exactly; I think it was a combination of things, but I can honestly tell you that I never thought I would be able to overcome it. It was just part of who Carly was and always would be.
My senior year of high school was the hardest year for me because this is when I struggled the most. I remember when I lost a drastic amount of weight, my dad was sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. “What can I do to help you Carly? Please tell me. I can’t stand seeing you this sick.” I never saw my dad look that sad or defeated in my entire life and it made my heart ache because he is my rock and my hero. However, I did not know what to tell him. I thought I looked fine; in fact, I thought I could lose more weight. How I looked still wasn’t good enough…
My teachers and friends at school became worried too, but it didn’t matter to me at the time. All I thought about was losing more and more weight until I was satisfied with my appearance, whenever that would be.
Then, college came around and I realized my college career and life could go down two very different roads. I could continue heading down the dangerous, destructive path I was already on and become even sicker (my doctor told me that if I continued I would cause my body permanent damage and wouldn’t be able to have children in the future, and as a result of my current eating behaviors, I had already become severely anemic and developed a thyroid disorder), or I could try and overcome this once and for all and let it go. Let myself be free…To everyone else’s surprise, and mine, I did just that.
I remember coming back home for the first time since I left for college, and my dad had tears in his eyes. But this time, it wasn’t because he was worried or scared–but because he was happy. I had overcome what had eaten away at me for so long and finally could eat something without feeling guilty or sick. I was finally free…
People frequently ask me how I overcame my eating disorder and there were several factors that led to my recovery. But the driving one was I decided on my own and for myself that this was not the way I wanted to live my life anymore — I didn’t want to go through life constantly worried about what I was eating and how many calories I was taking in each day. Even though I lived this way for so long, I always thought that there had to be a better, happier, freer life waiting for me and now that I am ED free, I realize that I was right.
Ultimately, my struggle with an eating disorder is why I now volunteer at Rock Recovery. I truly want to help other men and women who are struggling with disorder eating. More specifically, I want to let them know that they are not alone and that freedom and recovery are possible. Posting motivational messages, testimonials and creative recovery campaigns on Rock Recovery’s social media handles helps me achieve just that.
In closing, I once heard this quote when I was struggling with my eating disorder that I never thought I could achieve. It goes like this, “And I said to my body, softly ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’” Each and every day, I now try to live by this quote. Although it’s not always easy and I do still struggle at times, I now actively choose to love my body and be its friend. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.
Your friend in recovery,
This blog post was originally published on Rock Recovery’s website on February 22, 2017
Rock Recovery has been a partner of Catalogue for Philanthropy since 2018. They provide holistic eating disorder outpatient treatment services, outreach educational programs, and a community network for those in recovery.