Over the last ten years I've battled with an aggressive eating disorder.
Many times over the course of it I've wanted to take my own life, to put the toxic thoughts and all consuming cycle of starve-binge-purge-starve to bed. When I completed my first thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in '13, it was the first five consecutive months I went without starving in 7 years. THAT WAS HUGE. It was the first time recovery seemed attainable, that MAYBE just maybe, I too could climb out of self-hatred and re-learn what self worth and a healthy relationship with food was.
I had to start from the beginning. I sought out a therapist who specialized in ED. I was open with my family about my disorder and my desire to recover, and I hiked. I hiked A LOT. Hiking was safe (not a purge) because I knew I *had* to eat when I thru hiked. Starving was NOT even an option because I could easily DIE in the backcountry.
The trees and marmots didn't care what I looked like or how much I weighed that day. I didn't have to see mirrors daily or "beauty" ADs. I climbed mountains from sunrise to sunset and I was more strong than I ever imagined. I was worthy.
Coming off a trail I'd typically gain back weight, ED would start with its dialogue of unworthiness again, and the cycle would begin once again. After finishing the CDT 5 weeks ago I KNEW ED would be waiting for me in the front country. Actually, to be honest he never fully went away on this hike. But, I knew that this time I couldn't start from scratch again. I wouldn't let ED take over my life another time.
It's still hard for me to look in mirrors and accept my reflection, and the painful thoughts haven't lifted, but they are quieter. My fridge is full of nourishing foods and this January marks a whole year without starving. The first since I was 14. And I think that's pretty damn exciting