Kendall’s Story

When I was 12, someone told me I was hard to love. They told me I was at fault, and I’ve spent more than a decade punishing myself for the damage done at that person’s hands. A survivor of rape, and sexual and physical abuse, disordered eating has long been a coping strategy of mine, and for over 10 years I have fluctuated between severe anorexic and bulimic episodes to manage the impact of those experiences.

It was never about the food for me. It was about what the food distracted me from. It was about the punishment I thought I deserved. It was, and continues to be, something to give physical form to what is actually hurting. But, in saying that, my poor body image and obsession with the number on the scale is very real, and food is something I think about around the clock. Planning my next meal, and simultaneously calculating the subsequent exercise needed to remain in a deficit, or giving in to a binge and purge to escape the discomfort of anxiety; it’s relentless, and exhausting, and quite honestly a vicious cycle that only you can break.

What’s changed for me is that I am now in a place where I can recognize that the same shame and thoughts of being overweight were just as present when I’d starved my body into kidney failure as they are now. I held the same disgust and hatred of my body that I still struggle with today. Because, for me, weight isn’t the issue. Even as it decreases, I feel the same, because the truth to my actions is a pain that is buried deep within my core, and the eating disorder is simply a means of keeping that pain at a distance I can manage.

It takes a lot of effort to love what you want to destroy. To love a body that has been violated or one that has never felt like home. To have compassion for yourself despite the mistakes you’ve made, and under the burden of what you’ve lost in the process. It takes courage, and a willingness to go against all the ways you’ve learnt to live with your pain. It takes forgiveness, of yourself and others. It takes making the decision that you are up for something bigger, the choice to no longer remain in a space that doesn’t serve your evolution.

You have to stand up to that voice telling you that you’re not enough. And I’m writing this as much for myself as I am you, but nothing will change until you realize that you are so worth loving. Regardless of what has been, who you’ve been, how you made it through; you are worthy of love, especially that of your own. For all the years you felt love was lacking, love yourself tenfold. Tell that voice it’s wrong, time and time again. Because it’s your turn to be relentless. Love yourself through this. Choose to experience your body from a place of gratitude rather than criticism, one of love rather than hate. After all these years, you owe that to yourself.

Marion’s Story

For years, I believed things such as “You aren’t good enough” or “You aren’t pretty enough” or “You aren’t smart enough” or “You’re not skinny enough”. This basically all boiled down to the same concept…me feeling like I’m not enough. That I’m not worthy. That I’m not valuable. 

These thoughts spiraled into me being diagnosed with depression and struggling with anorexia. My eating disorder was a quest for perfection. It was a quest for me to be “enough”. I thought that if I had the perfect body, everything in my life would be perfect as well. However, that wasn’t true. Those thoughts only led to misery, sadness, loneliness, and more depression. For four years, I was in and out of treatment. In and out of doctors appointments, nutritionist appointments, and countless hours of therapy. I was stubborn and didn’t see anything changing. I didn’t want to change. I was miserable before my eating disorder started because of how self-degrading I was to myself, and I was still miserable at my lowest weight. So why not be miserable and be skinny too? That was my life. 

My eating disorder stole the majority of high school for me. Going out to dinner with people was out of the question. I stayed alone in my room all the time. My relationship with my parents was struggling. My brothers didn’t even know who their little sister was anymore. I was close to my life being fully taken due to the depression that my eating disorder caused. I was so depressed that I didn’t think life was worth living anymore. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was admitted to an inpatient program for four days at a mental hospital. As scary as that was, it was desperately needed. I never thought I would be someone who had to be admitted to a mental hospital, but it is a lot more common than people think. So many people struggle with mental illness, and it is extremely important to get help. 

While I was in the hospital, something clicked. I realized that I couldn’t keep doing that to myself anymore. I had to make the choice to take a chance, to see if things could change. Upon being discharged from the hospital, I finally realized that those thoughts I was thinking were actually lies and not truth. Each day after leaving the hospital, I got a little stronger. I decided I was going to continue to fight. I realized that my story was nowhere close to being over. I realized that I am enough, simply because I am ME. I realized that I am made to love others and be loved in return. I realized that my body, no matter what size, is also made to be loved simply because it was created perfectly, just the way it is. And most importantly, I realized that I was worthy of the love I received in return. I realized that I was enough. 

Walking in freedom and walking in the truth is such a great feeling. No matter what you’ve thought about yourself, what you’ve been through, what you are struggling with…YOU ARE SO WORTH LOVING.