Growing up, I was always a big eater. I LOVED food. Even my friends’ parents would comment on how much they enjoyed having me over for dinner because I ate anything and everything.

My parents raised me on good, old-fashioned home cooking. We ate as a family every night, things like pasta, chicken and potatoes, veggies, hamburgers, all of that good stuff. I literally had no cares about what I ate. There were days I ate french fries for breakfast followed by donuts and other days where I ate more vegetables and fruits.

I never thought twice about what I ate. I went through a phase where I was a little heavier but that’s natural for girls during puberty. I didn’t ever consider dieting or working out or losing weight.

That mindset continued into high school. I continued to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was somewhat active with sports but didn’t stress about exercising to burn calories or control my body. Some of the extra baby weight came off on its own and I was a healthy, size 6, life-loving girl who went out for ice cream with her friends and could care less about the number on the scale.

Then I went to college.

And I fell in love with a boy.

A boy who, when I confessed my feelings, told me that he liked me a lot but physically, I wasn’t his type. That he was into girls with the Victoria’s Secret body, specifically girls that were “bony”. Not kidding. He really said that.

And so it began.

At first, I just tried to be “healthier”. But it quickly spiraled into an obsession, an obsession that overtook my life. I started eating less and less and working out more and more.

By the time I graduated college, I had lost about 10 pounds. 10 pounds that I didn’t need to lose. But everyone was complimenting me! I felt prettier than ever. I was finally on my way to being thin!

But it still wasn’t enough.

I moved home and started my first grownup job where what began as simply healthy eating became a full-fledged eating disorder.

This time I knew what I was doing. I knew 5 grapes wasn’t enough for lunch. I knew skipping dinner every single day wasn’t good. But I couldn’t stop. It was addicting, it was a high.

I lost my period, I couldn’t sleep, I never had any energy, my bones bruised from just sitting down. Every minute of every day all I thought about was food and weight and what I could do to be even thinner. Friends, family and coworkers grew concerned.

One day my mom finally forced me to eat dinner with the family. I had my first panic attack, my first legitimate mental breakdown.

That’s when we both realized this problem was bigger than us, I needed professional help.

The next morning I was admitted to an inpatient treatment center where I was officially diagnosed with anorexia. I stayed for 2 weeks (the toughest weeks of my life!) before transitioning into outpatient care. Eventually I moved on with just weekly appointments with my team as my health returned and I recovered.

Now here I am almost 3 years later.

I still consider myself in recovery. I still have bad days, days when the eating disorder thoughts come rushing back and I don’t know if I can keep going. But I do. I fight back. I’m strong enough now.

I may not be fully recovered but I’m recoverING. That’s what matters. That’s what makes my life worth it. That’s what makes everyday a blessing. That’s what lets me finally live.