Knowing Yourself To Recovery
If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked what my 'background' is, I'd be rich.
Growing up as a racially ambiguous person with a white mother and a black father, I more
often than not got looks of confusion or even asked if they’re my real parents. During my
teenage years it was especially difficult figuring out my own self-identity as a mixed person
who ‘didn’t look mixed’ as well as accepting the changes happening to my body.
This combination of experiences may have sparked my development of anorexia nervosa,
although I still don't know the root cause. I found it difficult relating to others about my
illness because there wasn’t much emphasis on eating disorders amongst people of colour,
and media images always catered to bodies that didn’t look like mine. During these pivotal
years of my life, anorexia became my identity. I turned all of my focus towards achieving a
body type that (I later realized) wasn't meant for me. I had to leave high school, missed out
on a social life, and was in and out of doctors’ offices. Although at the time I felt more in
control of my life, everything around me was falling apart.
Entering a treatment program was one of the best decisions my family and I made, for
without it I probably wouldn't be here today. I was able to reflect on my life and start making
healthier and more informed choices. I gave up that ‘control’ I thought I had and put my trust
into the hands of people who knew what was best for me.
Shortly after leaving the treatment program, I signed up for a trip to Kenya; my father’s home
country. I knew that the only way for me to go on this trip was if I proved to my family,
and to myself, that I was healthy enough. Months later I was in Kenya volunteering but also
learning about where my father is from. The way I viewed the world and myself completely
When I came back from this trip, I knew that opportunities like this would never happen
again if I continued living my life in and out of hospitals. I learned that by making healthy
choices for myself, I created the ability to positively influence and help others. I used this
experience as my motivation for quite some time and was eventually on a path to being
recovered from my eating disorder.
Although recovering from an eating disorder is not necessarily this simple, discovering who
you are WITHOUT an eating disorder (whether that be your culture, interests and strengths),
is a huge start.
Writer wishes to remain anonymous