By Abby Couture
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. My admission into intensive care was sudden. I had gone from starving myself for months to being fed three meals and snacks a day in a hospital bed. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly embrace this abrupt change in routine. Though as traumatic as living through an eating disorder was, I believe I was able to survive for a few main reasons.
The first was my reckoning with control. A common feature of individuals struggling with disordered eating is an underlying fear of lacking control in one’s life, or feeling powerless and uncertain with their sense of self.
Throughout my freshman year of high school, I struggled to feel grounded and secure in shifting family dynamics, redefined friend groups, and a fluctuating identity with academics. In middle school, everything seemed so much easier, my grades were above average, and I felt more or less socially safe. In high school, I found myself frequently shifting between different social groups that were often in conflict. I felt tethered between old ties and new ones, constantly shifting “selves.” This ultimately led me to constantly question how I could be defined. At the end of the school year, my grades had dropped and I was no longer on the honor roll. Compounded by a disconnection with my academic self was a feeling of alienation from my own bodily identity. As I navigated puberty, I began to gain attention from older boys, leading me to objectify my own body as I learned to view it as social capital.