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"The best things in life don't come easy" - Lauren's story

While clearing through some boxes while home for Christmas, I came across an old notebook from two years ago. Assuming it was another half-used jotter from school like the others in the box, I flipped it open. The front page was entitled ‘Reasons to Recover’.

Almost instinctively, I went to close the book, to be filed away and forgotten for another two years. I felt my stomach drop, and an all-too-familiar feeling of panic rising in my chest. Yet, something in me told me to pick it back up and read. I let my eyes wander their way down the list, almost scared of what I might read.

I have come so far and grown so much since I wrote that list that I feel like another person entirely.

It felt intrusive, almost as if I was reading through someone else's private diary entries. I suppose that in a way, I was- I have come so far and grown so much since I wrote that list that I feel like another person entirely.

Yet, for a moment, reading that list, I was transported back in time, to a past version of myself: one who was stuck in the constraints of her own mind, held hostage by an eating disorder. It was an uncomfortable reminder of a life that now seemed so foreign and un-livable. I lived by a set of rules - rules that only ever applied to me - which, if broken, may as well cause the world to stop spinning on its axis (at least as far as my brain was concerned).

The Lauren I know today has so much more freedom, more energy, more life, than she could have ever dreamed of

I used to feel like this was the only life I would ever know - and I convinced myself I was ok with that. At the time, recovery was the scariest thing I could ever do, even scarier than continuing to live a life ruled by the disorder. Of course, now, I look back at this version of myself and I feel sorry for her; she didn’t know how much of life she was missing out on.

Most of all, though, I felt immense pride. Reading through the list, I was reminded of how far recovery has taken me in the past two years. The Lauren I know today has so much more freedom, more energy, more life, than she could have ever dreamed of back then. No longer am I under the dictatorship of the eating disorder, despite its efforts to regain control.

Recovery has given me the strength to fight back, and that’s exactly what I will continue to do. For anyone who needs a reminder of all the little things (and the big things!) recovery can bring you, I have included a picture of my list of reasons to recover. Of course, these are personal to me - I’m not sharing these as a solution for everyone, but for interest and inspiration.

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-Contributed by Lauren

If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, or are concerned for yourself or a loved one, you can find support and guidance on the help pages of our website.

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