It's national eating disorder awareness week, but unlike National Letter Writing Week or National pancake day, I'm not celebrating in a gleeful-delight. How do you "observe" something so destructive, so poisonous?
To be honest, I've walked through this week,like most others, with the goal of further divorcing my eating disorder. So this has me in a tough spot, a "now-but-not-yet" kind of spot.
I'm not 2014 Hannah, the girl who lived in blustery denial. I'm no more 2015 Hannah, who was walking through the fire of treatment and lived in the bubble of therapy and dietitians and treatment friends and the momentary realizations that there was more to life. This year, I've cast off the safety net. I am healthier than I've ever been, but I still walk through my day with recovery on the forefront of mind. Full healing of anorexia dominates the thoughts of schoolwork, relationships, athletics and future. It's the now-but-not-yet.
This reality collides with NEDA Week, a harsh wind to an otherwise sunny day. Do I keep talking about eating disorders, keep posting about my experience until people become educated but also box me in as "that girl who had anorexia?"
Frankly, I'm not sure.
I don't know how to handle this part of recovery, because I haven't been here yet. But I do know that, at some point, God will guide me onto new things, that won't include talking about my eating disorder every day. And I will gladly move forward. Anorexia will be a distant memory and I will no longer write about it all the time, and BOY will that be grand! But even as that day approaches, I keep my eyes and ears tuned to what the Spirit, always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within me (1 Peter 3:15).
So...eating disorders. They take a long time to heal from. It's typically a 3-5 year process- and a heartbreaking 20% of anorexia sufferers will end up dying before they eradicate the disease. It's a process that is beautiful and gut-wrenching, and it's altogether the hardest road I've ever traveled. If you or someone you love is walking through recovery, let this be a wake up call, a reminder that just because the battle is not yet finished, doesn't mean it is not being valiantly fought with every bite.
And so, I keep writing and talking and letting transparency numb the fear in my heart that says "what if they know?!" And someday soon, God will tell me that I get to speak out about something else, something new He is doing in my life, and I eagerly await that day. The Bible says we will defeat satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11), so that's why my testimony goes forth, and as the Lord molds and develops our testimonies, it's our job to go where He leads. Whether your ministry is in mental health or marriage or athletics or school, be ready for the Lord to move you along into bigger and better things as He crushes those strongholds in your life.
For more information on eating disorders, please refer to these posts: