By: Diana Curtis ’17, University Recreation & Wellness personal trainer and group fitness instructor
Not letting a single event in your life define you is one of the hardest things you can accomplish. When you experience a great achievement or suffer a loss or failure, it seems as though that event is what makes you who you are.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that every event and experience, big or small, contributes to the person you are and the life you will live. However, as easy as it sounds to acknowledge this fact, the application of it is much more difficult. The story in this post will explain the journey I took to overcome this mindset and to allow myself to not just live in one moment or memory, but to seek out other aspects of life and find joy when it seems so far out of reach.
My relationship with ED started out like any other relationship begins. At first, we just saw each other in passing. Then, we became acquaintances, and then friends, and eventually, we were spending every day together.
Unlike many relationships though, my one with ED began to take over my life; he distanced me from friends and family and constantly made me feel like I wasn’t enough. He drained my energy and took away my confidence. It wasn’t until he almost stole my passion from me that I realized how toxic the relationship was.
ED is a nickname for eating disorder. He is the voice within a person’s head that distorts their view of reality and tells them that their worth is derived from the body he sees in the mirror and the number he sees on the scale.
My serious relationship with ED lasted about four months, which doesn’t seem long, but that was all it took for him to make a lasting impression. It was long enough to make me feel as though if I ever let go of ED, I was losing something that defined me. Within those four months, I lost about 30 pounds and no longer recognized myself; I was moody, tired, and the only thing I looked forward to was the next time ED would allow me to eat.
He was able to convince me everyday that I was fine; not eating breakfast was no big deal and running two times a day on 1,000 calories was acceptable and healthy. He had complete control and I did nothing to resist because if he could convince me I was OK and no one else was telling me something was wrong, why should I? Fortunately, the relationship did come to an end.
However, it was far from a clean break up. I had been close to ED since April and it was closing in on September, so when my mom finally approached me, there was a lot of denial that ED seemed to be commentating. Then, cross-country season arrived and my coach gave me an ultimatum: if you don’t eat more, you can’t run on the team. This awoke something inside me that hated ED more than I ever had in the four months previous. He threatened to steal from me what has given me confidence and made me stronger since the day I started; he was taking away my happiness.
From that day on, it has not been an easy journey. I have overcome many fears that developed without my knowledge and have had to learn to reclaim my voice and thoughts.
And although it has been a couple years now, I catch a glimpse of ED walking through the crowd every once in a while and I have to remind myself of how I want my life to be defined. Do I want to live with ED the rest of my life, in fear of losing a piece of myself if he is no longer present, no matter how damaged that part may be? Or, do I want to live by my own standards and let my accomplishments and experiences define me?
My memory of this time still makes me emotional and I know I will never be completely free of ED, but if you ever find yourself face-to-face with him, know that seeking help doesn’t make you weak; it makes you braver than I ever was.
If you’re currently struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, don’t hesitate to seek out help and support. The Counseling Center or Mental Health Services at the University Health Center are great places to start.