A question that I have seen arise within the recovery community and one that I have thought a lot about myself is whether or not I regret developing an eating disorder. If I had the chance to go back and change that period of time in my life, would I? You would think that the obvious answer would be ‘yes,’ but you couldn’t be more wrong.
There is no denying that those two years of my life were the darkest and I certainly begrudge wasting my final years as a teenager, but there are several positives that have came out of developing the mental illness.
Firstly, and probably my main reason for not regretting the situation, is that through going to therapy I have discovered a lot more about myself. Endless sessions with my therapist allowed me to realise that I have a tendency to please people and live up to certain expectations. As much as making the people around you happy can be a good thing, it can get to the stage where it’s unhealthy and you become so focused on keeping others happy that you yourself become the opposite. Acknowledging this has allowed me to try and actively change that and realise that it is okay to put my own happiness before others. Over the past few years I have also learned that I have perfectionist tendencies – I use the word ‘perfectionist’ very loosely as I’m aware that this can be a bigger problem for others – and that I laugh a lot of my problems off instead of talking about them. No doubt these traits have been with me for years, but it has only been after I have spoken openly about my thoughts with a therapist that I have acknowledged and understood why I act certain ways.
A bit more of a lighter reason for my lack of regret is that I have tried so many new foods that are now some of my favourites. During recovery, I have tried different foods that I had never thought to try beforehand. Houmous, nakd. bars, porridge and almond butter are all foods that I had never really dreamed of trying before but are now all staples in my diet. If I had never developed anorexia, then I may have never tried some of my favourite foods and that thought genuinely brings a tear to my eye.
Leading on from that, I have also developed an interest in healthy foods. I’m not an extreme ‘clean eater’ and never will be, but I do enjoy trying and eating healthier alternatives. I’m never going to give up pizza or apple pie, but through recovery I have developed the drive to find a healthy, balanced diet.
Finally, I will never regret those dark days when I lacked energy and had zero personality and interests because I now appreciate everything in my life 10x more. I am finally living my life again and am not so focused in on food and my weight and when those things have ruled your life for a long length of time, it is incredibly refreshing to be doing and thinking about other things. I catch myself laughing until I cry or being completely engrossed in writing, filming a video or watching anime that it legitimately can bring a tear to my eye – or more tears if I’m crying with laughter. When you have gone through and overcame a difficult period in your life, it is natural for you to come out the other end with a new outlook. It shapes the person you grow to be.