Proud2Bme | Becoming Me: How I Took My Life Back from ED

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Becoming Me: How I Took My Life Back from ED

By Emily Benko--I deprived my mind, body and soul of nourishment for nearly a decade after a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with my eating disorder, which I now figuratively refer to as my ex-ED.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behaviors. 

While my disordered tendencies originated before I hit double digits, my 12-year-old self said “Yes!” to a full-time relationship with ED on October 9th, 2006, while I was buckled up in the third row of my mom’s minivan during my family’s drive to our new home in Tampa, Florida.

Peace of mind in the presence of a piece of cake became impossible. Soon after, being in the presence of apples and other “healthy” foods became unbearable, too. I couldn’t envision a world where I didn’t fear food, nor could I foresee a time when I could feel comfortable eating.  

Even when out with friends during a meal, ED counted calories while I conversed. He not only criticized every bite I took, but also every word I spit out. And I treated myself as poorly as he treated me. I didn’t blame ED for his conduct. Instead, I mimicked him. We shared what seemed like an unbreakable bond; that is, until I did the impossible, and called off our unhealthy relationship.

Just like a legitimate breakup, my break-up with ED required perseverance. After years of repeated recovery efforts, which included inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs and everything in between, I discovered who I was without ED.

The process of unearthing my authentic self involved not a makeover, but a make-under. I peeled back the layers of my life and exposed my true essence. I started to understand that I had been contorting myself into what ED wanted me to be. I accepted that he locked my creativity up and I understood he exhausted my energy, which didn’t permit me to harness my ultimate brain power. Everything that made me unique vanished as our detrimental relationship developed.

Ultimately, I found the bravery to take complete control over my own life. Breaking away from ED was the best thing I could ever do for myself, and I’m only going forward from here.

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

About the blogger: Emily Benko is a vivacious, good-humored 21-year-old who battled anorexia for 10 years. She’s given her all to discover her authentic self without her eating disorder. Her efforts to recover put her life on hold. She quit her dream job and took numerous semesters off in both high school and college so she could give all forms of treatment a shot. Now she’s back to her studious ways. Emily is studying communications at St. Petersburg College, and plans to attend law school. Additionally, she is very involved with her church. She works with special needs children and mentors incarcerated youth. Most importantly, Emily makes self-love her full time job, and encourages everyone to do the same.

Also by Emily: 

Blink Fitness’ “Every Body Happy” Campaign is a Step in the Right Direction

5 Ways to Establish Boundaries with Loved Ones with Body Image Issues

Is This the Body-Positive Superhero We’ve Been Waiting For?

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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