Your Inspirational Recovery Stories – How I Overcame Anorexia with Spirituality

EDRECOVERYGRAPHICTRUSSTORIESwithlineThe following story was submitted by an incredible lady from America who would like to remain anonymous. When she contacted me to share her inspirational story I knew I had to share it with all of you here on the blog, as it demonstrates that recovery is possible for all of us, however dark or difficult things become. Her feelings of self-hatred and that all-consuming feeling of worthlessness really resonated with me, and I know a lot of people reading this will feel the same too. I’m not a religious personal at all but I am very spiritual, and it’s so interesting to see that this lady kept her faith even when times were difficult.

I hope this motivates and inspires anyone who feels like there is no way out (THERE IS!!) – and for those of you who are in the later stages of recovery I hope it makes you realise just how far you’ve come 🙂

 

“Learning to love myself unconditionally after a near death experience” – Anonymous

“It is selfish to only think about yourself.”

“You will never amount to anything good in life.”

“What is the purpose of life, to suffer and die?”

These used to be the thoughts I had in my head growing up. I grew up in a not so loving household and have dealt with all kinds of abuse at a young age.

I used to stifle all my feelings as a way to cope with everything. I didn’t realize that in time this manifested into self-hatred and a full blown eating disorder by the time I was 13.

All I saw when I looked at my reflection was someone that is worthless and not worth loving or living. This is what I deserve. I couldn’t see what my purpose was. I didn’t see the reason for living another day.

I had a spiritual near death experience (NDE) when I was 24 years old after battling on and off with anorexia for 11 years.

Near death experience

I had become severely depressed at the time before my NDE. I had gotten into a car accident a year ago and suffered short term memory loss. My neck and back was also under a lot of pain and my left eye would twitch at times.

I was asking God why another setback, another trauma? Family life was unbearable, dealing with school, mom’s chronic illness, dad’s neglect and gambling addiction, and brother’s focus on himself. My sanity and patience started to dwindle.

My moods were up and down. The only way I knew how to cope with all the stresses in my life was through starving myself. I began to eat less and less and los t a lot of weight. My stomach was always in pain and I had no energy to do anything. I was very fatigued and hanging on by a thread.

I began to see many doctors: a cardiologist that diagnosed me with heart arrhythmia, a gastroenterologist that only diagnosed me with IBS, a psychologist that diagnosed me with depression but all the medicines they gave me seem to make me feel worse.

As the days go by, my will to live began to fade. What’s the point of living if I were to continue to suffer like this, haven’t I been through enough?

The night of my NDE, my heart palpitations were getting worse but I just brushed it off as another symptom. I had no appetite and my vision became blurry. I cried for a few hours and collapsed on my bed.

Laying on my bed, I asked in my head ‘Why am I suffering so much, how is there a creator, a benign God that would allow all this to happen to me?’ I closed my eyes with tears on my face, but when I started to fell asleep, I felt like my breathing was slowing down and I began to gasp for air after asking that question.

What happened next was the strangest feeling. I saw myself, my soul, lift out of my navel/belly button. I was looking down at my own body and I was perplexed. I went what the heck, I can still exist out of my body? My essence traveled through an umbilical cord/tunnel that was white and grayish with wave like patterns. I was so distraught, I didn’t know what to do.

Was I dying? My spirit was traveling super fast like the speed of light. On my way to this never-ending tunnel, I yelled at God to save me. I was so scared that I yelled out at God to help me. I was desperate because I didn’t know where I was heading. I said I would miss my family and my two cats.

Healing

The tunnel then reached to this luminous white dome-shaped room that didn’t blind my eyes. But before I could go further, my spirit quickly traveled back down the tunnel and fell back into my body. When I woke up I felt instantly refreshed. I had a sense of peace and happiness than I ever felt in my life.

I also had healing from my anorexia. I had a lot more appetite and gained weight. I had more energy and was genuinely grateful and happy. Things that used to bother me did not bother me anymore.

I have more compassion and tolerance to everyone. I used to be judgmental and materialistic. Now I don’t buy as much and like to help others more. I felt as if we are all ONE.

If I’m in pain the other person absorbs my pain, If I’m love, the other person receives my love. I began to be more spiritual, more praying and meditation. I felt connected with source energy and felt protection and love for me.

What I know now is that we should love each other and everyone’s flaws, we are all here to learn, to make mistakes, to grow. We should serve humanity, be less selfish and self absorbed, and do more acts of kindness without asking anything in return.
What I have learned

Growing up I didn’t understand what love really is. It seems that love meant giving up on yourself to take care of everyone else.

Now I realized that almost everyone we come across is a wounded child at heart. And that in order for us to change our reality we must heal our internal wounds that has been there since childhood.

What if I told you the most i mportant thing you can do in life is to fully love yourself, imperfections and all.

And that it is not possible to love another unless we take care of ourselves.

I’m sure most of us who have battled an eating disorder know how hard it is to find hope in midst of struggling to survive.

But I’m here to tell you that it is possible and that brighter days are ahead of you. All it takes is that first step.

Music was really healing for me. Here are some songs that helped me through my experience:

 

 

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Telling your eating disorder where to go

Taken in Townsville Qld 2010.© I retain copyright.

If you’re reading this, you’re taking a really positive step. The very first important thing in recovery is admitting that you think you have a problem, but then when you want support and need support how do you find it – what do you do? I’ve been there, feeling so helpless and desperately wanting to change, but at the same being unable to stop listening to the voice that compelled me to continue.

I often say that the most encouraging and important step in a person’s recovery is the point at which they say ‘I think I need help’ or ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore.’ If your experience is anything like mine, this happens in small bits to begin with, where the ‘real you’ inside voices concern over your health, dares to think for a moment about the future you could have, or feels a pang of guilt over something you said or did to a loved one whilst you were caught up in the stress of having to eat something, or being interrupted when you rushed off to make yourself sick.

But ‘I don’t want to be like this anymore’ or ‘I want to fight this’ isn’t necessarily the same thing as ‘I’m ready to fight this’. You’re able – you’re strong enough, but you might not be fully equipped – perhaps you don’t feel you have the right support or don’t know where to start. Eating disorders are persuasive, secretive, obsessive and compelling. They don’t slide away into submission. You need some support to fight them.

When I was at the point where I felt I might want to live and didn’t want to be poorly anymore, I found myself without the support I needed. I desperately wanted to speak to someone who had recovered from Anorexia, but I had no real example of somebody who had been through what I was currently going through and who could offer guidance, advise and above all empathy.

That’s why Tough Cookie exists – because I want anybody who is in that place feeling so in despair, without hope or struggling to know that it is possible to get better and that there is support out there for them. That’s why I run the blog and wrote the books. Here are a few things I learned during my journey – by sharing these I hope you won’t feel so alone and will know for sure that how you feel is just a natural part of the recovery process.

Try not to feel guilty and don’t beat yourself up

The problem with eating disorders is they get away with none of the pain, whilst you feel all the hurt and the guilt. Family members and friends often mistakenly think that they can ‘guilt’ you into eating, because they don’t see that it isn’t you behind your actions. Even without their input, you might feel naturally guilty anyway because you know that people around you are concerned and if you are in the first stages of overcoming your eating disorder, might feel as though you ‘aren’t doing it quickly enough.’

I can’t describe the guilt I experienced when I was at a point where I felt I wanted to ‘get better’. I could suddenly see the hurt I appeared to have caused and the difficulty, stress and strain I was putting my parents through. I didn’t care about myself – but I did care about them – that’s why I decided I wanted to try in the first place.

If you do find yourself feeling guilty, try to remember that none of this is your ‘fault’. Just like a physical illness, you aren’t responsible for the things you did or said, just like somebody with cancer isn’t responsible for upsetting people around them with their emaciated appearance, or somebody with a stomach bug isn’t responsible for throwing up everywhere. Guilt is a natural feeling and it actually shows that you give a shit – you care about things and that is a powerful and important thing. Try not to let guilt eat you up inside and hamper your progress – instead try to distract from it and focus on building your future.

Relapses happen

It isn’t a smooth ride for everybody. In fact most people find that recovery is a journey full of ups and downs. Some days you’ll feel good and do well – other days you’ll find yourself in the clutches of your eating disorder again unable to drown out the cruel voice which is angry because you haven’t been doing what it has been telling you to. But please know that gradually the bad days lessen and you find yourself with more and more good days. You start to fill the void created by the lack of noise your eating disorder makes with all the things you love – doing the things you want to do and enjoy again. You begin to dream about the future and take positive steps towards it – a future that an eating disorder doesn’t and cannot have a role in. All of these things ultimately help you to become the person you really are again.

Ask for (and take advantage of) as much support as possible

It’s difficult to go through this alone – and you don’t have to be alone, even if your family don’t seem to understand or you have no friends or professional help. I know that there are few resources online – but if you’re reading this you’ve found what I hope is a helpful and valuable resource. You can find details of charities I have personally heard are helpful here, and read more blogs and take a look at my books on this site. Sometimes you’ll find conventional healthcare services can’t (or are unable to) help you – but that’s okay – they didn’t help me either. With or without them, you can do it with other types of support by your side.

If you need further help and support on fighting Anorexia from a positive personal perspective,  you might find these articles helpful:

Coming out of an EDU – what now?

5 things Anorexia won’t tell you

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