Every time I get the urge to just have the bare minimum, consider skipping a meal, lie in bed at night as I realise I’m struggling to sleep because I’m hungry, I take a moment to think, to weigh up the short term benefits with the long term.

Short term, it might calm the voice in my head. It might dampen the anxiety; bring me a sense of calm, or control. It might allow me to suppress my natural body weight; to maintain a shape or size that my mind feels more comfortable in; to aim to a further ideal, to continue to mould and change my outer shell. But it will also keep me trapped inside my mind; a voice that sounds like me but isn’t ruling over my actions. It’ll keep me detached from the real world; from friends, family, relationships, from jobs, from dreams - not living, but existing in an empty, shrunken shell of a person. It’ll take the shine from my hair, the hair from my head, the strength from my bones, the heat from my blood, the glow from my skin, the life from my eyes, the beat from my heart.

Telling myself I’m worthy of my true wants and cravings and level of hunger, creating self-care rules like eating regular meals and snacks, getting out of bed to have that late-night snack - yes, it made me anxious at first. yes, even now I still sometimes have to think about doing it and make myself do it instead of it being my initial, natural instinct. But that temporary confliction, or inconvenience, or thought process, or anxiety passes. It’s temporary. And that temporary discomfort is so, so worth the long term.

I may not always like the body recovery has given me, or like the feeling of not eating what my mind deems as perfectly ‘healthy’, but I can accept it and find compassion for what both things give me in return.

This body has brought me health; brought me energy and life, and travel and warmth. I can be outside in the cold without feeling like I might keel over, I can fall asleep at night without worrying that my heart will stop. Food freedom has given me mental freedom. Letting go of strict rules, of the need to make myself deserving of nourishment through a compensation game has given me mental space to think about things other than food, to re-build connections with people I love and to make new ones with strangers. It’s given me space to explore opportunity, career prospects; to listen to myself and follow my dreams - not what the disordered part of my mind thought respectable. It’s given me flexibility and spontaneity to be able to travel; to not be rigid and controlled and unable to incorporate or compromise to other people’s wishes.

And that’s only scratching the surface of it all.

Long term, recovery means I get to LIVE.

So every time I get a thought, get an urge, feel the anxiety creeping in, I remind myself of what I want. I want relationships. I want connections. I want a career. I want to create. I want to write, to act, to sing, to paint, to draw, to read, to learn, to travel, to mentor, to speak, to help.

Eating disorders lie; they make you feel like they’re helping you be more, accomplish more, achieve more, be accepted and respected more. It tells you to do what it says and you’ll be better, stronger; more disciplined, more controlled.

It’s the worst, most dangerous voice to fall for. Too easy sometimes, because it seems like your own. It sounds like your own. It took me a long time to even make that distinction.

The truth is, you won’t know the danger till it’s too late. I didn’t even quite reach that point, though if I had taken the reins any later it might have been a different story. Looking back I can already see how a purist to be healthier became stricter and stricter until it was about whether or not I was deserving - and you can guess it, I wasn’t.

The truth is, your eating disorder is killing you slowly. Slowly, all the false promises will fade away, and it’ll start to rear its ugly head, start to speak it’s toxic voice.

The short term ‘benefits’ fade away to be replaced with a truth so numbingly bare; so scarily real.

It wants you to die.

Recovery means so much; yet can be reduced to one meaning.

Recovery means you get to live.

Recovery means finding your life again.