By: Layn Tallent
If I’m being totally honest, I’ve written and rewritten this blog at least ten times. If I’m being really honest with you, I promised Amy I would send this blog to her email two months ago… and then again another month ago. And to drop yet another truth bomb into your lap, I have only admittedly said “I had or have an eating disorder” to three people in my lifetime prior to releasing this blog: my fiancé (who is a nursing professional in eating disorders), my therapist, and my dietitian. To be quite frank, I refused to implement the term “eating disorder” into my vocabulary until I was sweetly called out by my therapist during a session. I always seemed to dance around the term, and I often convinced myself that my disorder was best kept untold secret.
The past ten years of my life have been plagued with chronic dieting and an eating disorder that manifested in countless ways. Through numerous God winks, a desperate season of life, and an incredibly compassionate fiancé (boyfriend at the time), I was introduced to McCall Dempsey and Southern Smash. As a result, my life has been forever changed.
While my blog post doesn’t really tell you my story, I have come to acknowledge its importance. However, as I wrote and rewrote my very first Southern Smash blog, I simply didn’t feel the urgency to share the depths of my relationship with food, weight, and body image. Rather, I felt compelled to discuss the lonely void of fearfulness that can often follow recovery and fight the lies that you are not “sick enough” to receive help.
Fear is what has prohibited my submission of this blog for two months.
Fear #1:My eating disorder has always been my best kept secret. Even through recovery, it became my hidden shame.
Fear #2: Readers would not resonate with my words.
For so long, I honestly didn’t think my story was worthy of being published. I felt sheepish about it; I convinced myself that it was better left unwritten. I simply wasn’t “sick enough.” My story didn’t feel unique; in fact, it felt like my story was tiresome and shared by many. Then, I recognized the beauty in that.
I’ve never stepped foot inside an eating disorder clinic; that being said, maybe I should have. After years of fighting a battle that seemed to never end, I decided to seek help on my own accord. With the assistance of an amazing therapist and dietitian, I began recovery. Honestly, recovery felt tougher than my disorder some days; and it definitely felt more lonely. I’m still unsure whether the stark loneliness I felt was due to allowing a barrier of shame to hush the season I was going through or the fact that my mentality felt so detached from those in my inner circle; what I do know, however, is that loneliness is not a rarity amongst warriors in recovery.
Just as my eating disorder felt alienating as I would restrict certain foods, recovery felt just as isolating as I fought the anxiety to reintroduce foods back into my diet. I realized that I walked into my season of recovery believing that I would confront “A, B, and C.” All the while, I was forced to address “D through Z.” Some days, I felt a surge of pride; other days, anxiety and depression took its toll. What I’m most grateful for during recovery, however, are the voices in my life (my fiancé therapist, and dietitian) who reminded me that “not sick enough” was a silly lie whispered by my disorder. The wisdom and truth they dispatched led me to make choices that healed me from the inside - out.
The goal of my blog post is not to sugarcoat, exaggerate, or place recovery in a box; it’s to reduce the feelings of loneliness that hug so tightly to your journey into a life of freedom and bagels.
To all of you who are currently struggling through recovery, I see you! To anyone who does not feel like they are “sick enough” to receive help, I hear you! (However, no matter where you are in your relationship with food -- whether it is slightly disordered or you have an eating disorder, I will always encourage you to seek help.) To my recovery warriors who feel like this journey never ends, you’re doing incredible!! And to anyone who feels lonesomeness, disparity, or mourns their old life some days, it’s okay. I do too, but hold tight to the progress you have made! No matter what your story writes, recovery is worth it!
Layn Tallent is a lover of bagels (with cream cheese) and all things pink! She is engaged to a compassionate nurse whose profession is within eating disorder recovery. Her personal experience and his professional experience have ignited a passion in their relationship to work together in fighting the stigma against mental health! Layn's favorite reminder is that "you can have Jesus AND a therapist."