What it feels like to be a fat girl recovering from anorexia

I’m Amy and I’m a fat girl. I’ve kind of always been fat at varying weights.

For 10+ years I saw this as something that needed to be changed. Something that needed to be fixed.

I struggled an eating disorder for over a decade before being diagnosed as ‘anorexic with bulimic tendencies’, whatever that means.

My eating disorder flew under the radar of most people because I didn’t “look” like I had an eating disorder. I also didn’t “act” like I had an eating disorder. So, when I was losing weight, running, and dieting, people congratulated me. Because, as a big girl, I wasn’t encroaching and unhealthy low weight.

After years of trying to find joy while destroying my body, I gave in and asked for help.

I’ve now been in solid recovery for over a year and in that time I’ve learned a lot about self love.

I have worked so hard to get to a place where I love my body (yes, I said love). And 90% of the time I’m there.

The other 10% is the hard stuff. The stuff that’s comprised of awkward looks when I tell someone I have a history of an eating disorder, the judge mental glances and words when I say I don’t run or go to the gym anymore, the backhanded sympathy of “I’m in a much more socially accepted body though, so I can’t imagine how you felt” when discussing a group.

People are often to surprised that I love myself. I mean, I don’t blame them, I was surprised at first too.

Here’s my lesson though.

I’m fat, I’ve pretty much always been fat.

And my experience with an eating disorder is still valid. And, more importantly, my recovery is still valid.

So is yours.


A thank you letter to my body

Dear Body,

I know we’ve had a tumultuous relationship for quite some time now. I hope you can see that lately I’ve been trying to do better.

I want to say sorry for all the time I spent hating you and hurting you. I denied you food and put through hell when I did eat. I was so mad that you never changed the way I wanted you to. I wanted you to shrink, but, I realize that is one of the most hurtful things a person could do. Wanting you to shrink fueled the idea that you didn’t deserve to take up space. That, in turn, I didn’t deserve to take up space. I’m sorry for not listening to you. I’m sorry I tried to destroy you thinking it would destroy my thoughts. I’m sorry I stayed in the relationship that put you at risk daily. I’m sorry for not taking care you when all you wanted was to be clean. I’m sorry that I was so ashamed of you that I wore sweaters in summer and lied about how comfortable you were.

You didn’t deserve that.

I also want to say thank you for all the things you’ve done for me that I have taken for granted. This goes back a while, so, bear with me. Thank you, body, for continuing to move even when I got 10 hours of sleep a week in highschool. Thank you for the arms I used to wrap around my friend when that boy broke her heart. Thank you for the ability to get on stage and act and sing, making me realize again and again that that’s my passion. Thank you for the strength you had on the first Campus Life white water rafting trip I went on where I learned about faith. Thank you for walking me across the stage at my high school graduation. Thank you for being so understanding when I cautiously entered treatment in 2012. Thank you for being able to get me through 3 summers working with campers that stole my whole heart. Thank you for adjusting when I started to nourish you, I know that was hard at first. Thank you for forgiving me for the rollercoaster that was the nourishment. Thank you for the ability to hold my niece and nephew and run around with them. Thank you for being patient with me as I tried to learn how to listen to you. Thank you for the ability to breathe to calm down. Thank you for allowing me to dance with friends. Thank you for enduring repeated trauma and showing your resilience.

Body, I know I haven’t always been kind to you. I thought, for a very long time, that you had one job; look pretty. Boy was i wrong. You have such an important job. You have, and continue, to be the one that carries me through to my dreams. You are a vessel for my faith, my love, and my care.

I promise I’m doing my best to make it up to you.

Thank you.

Love, me.

401(I’m o-)k

That’s me trying to be clever, forgive me.

Let me be hella real. Not everyday is great in recovery. I still have days where I don’t follow my meal plan 100% and there are still days where I fight myself to not engage in other behaviors.

This month, this week, holds a lot of fear. The 12th marked 1 year since my most recent and most terrifying trauma. The 20th will be 2 years since my suicide attempt that changed the course of my life.

I’d be lying if I said I was able to brush these things off. I’ve been fighting flashbacks and living in negative body image. I’ve been avoiding some people and lying to others.

So here’s the truth. A year ago today my disorder was my best friend. It’s how I coped with the storm life threw at me. I still held onto the attempt from the previous year and wished I had kept going with it. My life shifted after both events.

After my attempt I had to quit my job and go into treatment. When I went back to visit after being discharged I was told that if I hadn’t quit I would’ve been fired. But why? I was a good worker and was well liked by those we served. I would’ve been fired for my mental illness causing me to be a liability.

Last year I lost a lot of myself and when that happened I reached out and realized I had lost a friendship that meant so much to me. I was broken and alone.

I’m sad thinking about those things. I’m sad that I didn’t continue with college the way I hoped, that I had to quit the lead role in Beauty and the Beast, and that I had to spend Christmas in residential treatment.

And I think about now. Right now. I am laying on the floor watching Criminal Minds eating a pop tart after a self care bath and spending time with my niece. I have asserted my needs and feelings to friends. I am taking myself on a date tomorrow to my favorite place (Christkindlmarkt). And I officially have a 401k.


My life has taken huge turns and now I’m here. Feeling and living it all. And how blessed am I to experience that? God is good.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

”I used to be so cute though.”

80% of the time I am truly happy. 







And much more.
I’d be presenting myself immaculately if I pretended I don’t grieve over my physical appearance before treatment.
I was at my lowest weight before I went into treatment in 2016. I was active daily (due to working outside for an outdoor camp), and engaged in my disorder, and working out. 

It wasn’t healthy. And I still look back at pictures and go “dang, I was cute.” 


It’s moments like that where I do the real fact checking and say, sure, I was “cute” and I was dying.
I recently read a post about gaining weight in recovery when you don’t “need” to gain weight. Story of my damn life. 

The disappointing part of the post was that I didn’t relate. And here’s why;
I have never needed to be weight restored.

I don’t have “wiggle room” for my body’s set point.

I’ve never been at risk of treatment due to weight trending down.


My recovery is still valid.

My body is still valid.

I still deserve/need/get to eat.
I’m a big girl. I was a big girl in my disorder, I was a big girl in treatment, I was a big girl when I discharged. 

My recovery is not weight loss focused. It’s also not muscle gain focused. 

I haven’t even stepped into a gym or into a track in about a year. My recovery is not, and my never be, a calculated balance of “eat right and workout.” 

My recovery is “eat what you need because your body needs it, and move for your body when it feels appropriate.”
So, sure, I used to be cute. 

And, now, I’m alive. 

The day I left for treatment vs about 20 minutes ago

Let’s have a chat 

This right here is a hat I received at the NEDA Walk in Chicago today. This hat is now a symbol of a day full of gratitude. 
I captained a team of about 30 people and our team raised over $3,500 towards NEDA. I have gone to this walk for 4 years and captained 3 years, and this year was the very first year that I didn’t go there with a heavy heart and fake smile. 

I went genuinely happy, hopeful, encouraged, and (dare I say it?) confident. I have only ever gone to the walk and realized how sick and hurt and angry I was. But, and I can’t say this enough, this year I went and boasted in recovery and gratitude. I saw some of the ERC staff members who changed my life, I saw friends, and I even brought my mom. 
I also had a very overwhelming sense of peace. I promise you I do not say this to sound condescending, I just couldn’t get past this feeling of knowing where I’m at in my recovery and knowing that I’m on the path forward. I know people struggled to see friends that are still sick, or go out to lunch after, or converse about life in general. And that is 100% valid. I am just at peace knowing that I had those struggles too and I made it. I made it to a point where I ordered a Denver omelette and chose pancakes as a side instead of toast because I friggin love pancakes. Guys, it gives me hope because I hurt to see my friends hurt but now I’ve come to know that recovery is real. 

This year’s walk was the first time I’ve celebrated recovery and not the multi-tasking/multi-masked front that I put up.  
As the speakers got on stage and walked the crowd through a mindfulness I overheard chatter from people saying “oh goodness, I haven’t done a mindfulness in months!” And I paused. You see, the great Dr. Ellen Fletcher once said in a group, “when people discharge from treatment and come back they tell me mindfulness was the first thing to go.” I’m not sure why, but, I held on to that statement. Well, maybe I do know why… I had returned after being discharged just 3 months prior and, you guessed it, definitely had not even considered mindfulness after I walk out of those doors. Well, I think Dr. Ellen was on to something there. I discharged on July 3rd and it was probably 2 weeks later that I started incorporating mindfulness into my week. Then, somewhere along the line, it became daily. I now do at least one guidedmeditation each day. It’s the self care I never knew I needed.  

It was hard today too. I walked in memory of so many people who’ve passed away from this illness. Some of whom I called friends. Before I went into treatment I was obsessed with learning about eating disorders. Probably to find some way to argue that I didn’t have one. I saw all the statistics and that’s all they were. Numbers. But now? Now I know the heartbreaking truth that those numbers have names and faces. I refuse to sit by and see more faces and names build those numbers. 
This is not easy. This has been nowhere near easy and it’s painful. I also know that not everyday is this powerful. But I’ve come to the realization that I am powerful enough to conquer those bad days and keep going. You can too, I promise.

When does it get easier?

I’m part of a Facebook group of former patients from the treatment center I was in. We often post questions, encouragements, and inside jokes. 

Today someone posted the question “when does it get easier?”

I wonder, too, when will it get easier? I responded, keeping my own recovery in mind;

I don’t know the “when” but I promise you it will. It might come on the day when you wake up to the fresh air that hits your skin just right and the sounds are still in a peaceful way, or, it may come on the day when the snow is on the ground and the you see a clump of snow drop from a low tree branch, or, when you get that call from a friend who just says one right thing to give you hope to do the next thing you can. And maybe it happens on all of those days. And maybe the next day it hurts again. But those days where it does get better are the reminders that they do happen. 
Now, what I failed to add was my own experience. 

For me, it got easier when I let it get easier. I got to a point of acknowledging hope. For so long the idea of “hope” was intangible and far off. But, once I allowed myself to think that one day it might get easier, it did. Of course, it wasn’t a sudden fix or cure. But I noticed the little things I did that I used to hold anger towards became things I enjoyed. 

For example, I hate winter. The snow, the cold, the ice. Yuck. However, the past 2 winters I’ve spent in residential treatment in the city. City winters are much different than suburb winters. In the city, snow turns to brown and gray slush and icy puddles. In the suburbs, snow accumulates and the aesthetic of leafless trees become visible. 

In the past, to me, those would be things that irritated me. The thought of snow accumulating meant shoveling and dead trees meant broken branches to clean up. 

Not to be that person, but, I feel like I took it for granted. 
That’s when things get easier for me. When I find a new way to hope. A new perspective. 

I know it’s not easy. And I’m sure I make it sound so much more dreamlike than reality. I’m sure this winter will bring days where I dread trudging through the snow. But even then, it’s an experience and feeling I’ve missed out on for two years now. I am letting myself experience it in a new way.
What are you allowing yourself to experience easier? When does it get easier for you?

Why we shouldn’t call scars beautiful.

Here’s the thing… we’ve all seen the posts and heard the phrases about the self harm scars from the dark moments in life being beautiful.

They’re not. 

Those scars, on me, are from a time in my life, yesterday- today- whenever, where I felt so uncontrollably broken that I thought I had no choice but inflict pain on myself. 

Those were the days I rifled through my family’s things to find something to use. The days I cried behind a locked door so no one could hear my gut wrentched moans of mental pain. Those were the days I made the choice to limit my fashion until I could pass them off as “old ones” and avoid questions that came from a place of care. 

I cringe when people say things like, “you’re scars make you beautiful.” Or, “those make you who you are today.” 

I’m not saying this to shame anyone who has scars. I have scars too but they do not make me beautiful and they do make me who I am now. 

I am beautiful with my scars, not because of them. I would also be beautiful without them. 

They did not make me who I am today. In terms of the accomplishments I’ve made with my mental illness, I am who I am today because of the work I’ve put in and the things I’ve learned. I could still have done that if I had no scars.
I promise, I am not saying this to shame scars. Because, yes, goddammit you are beautiful. But you’re more than that and you don’t need to base your worth off of the healing skin on your body.
Recently, I’ve seen a lot of stories that include seeing someone else who has scars that have healed and suddenly feeling some type of kinship with them. The “you too? me too.” mentality is dangerous.
I am more than my scars. I do not need to feel ashamed about the scars I have. I do need to realize that these scars were not from a place of forming bonds rather from a place of deep pain. 

I’m sorry you went through that pain too, and, I would rather connect with you by hearing about the life you’ve had outside of that pain. I will not sit by and let people unknowingly (or knowingly) glamorize depression by scars a trend as something beautifully tragic and nostalgic.


You are more than beautiful.
More than beautiful you are kind.

More than beautiful you are intelligent.

More than beautiful you are funny.

More than beautiful you are witty.

More than beautiful you are strong.

More than beautiful you are courageous.

More than beautiful you are capable.

More than beautiful you are loving.

You are more than beautiful.

More than beautiful you are worthy.

Well that went uphill real quick.

So a couple days ago I wrote about a very rough day and night and conversation and thoughts and yada yada yada.

I don’t mean to invalidate my past self, actually I want to praise my past self for ending that knowing a new day was just around the corner.
So let me tell you how things went from shitty to laughter and joy.

Thursday I had a session with my dietitian where we actually went out grocery shopping. Something I haven’t done in a while because anxiety around food. So her there was a good buffer and I got foods that were good. And by good I mean that they met what I need nutritionally without me falling into my organic/low cal kick. Friday, I cooked. I cooked breakfast; eggs and cheese on toast with a side of my favorite sausage. I baked; homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I even cooked dinner for me and my family. I also went to an improv show with a friend of mine at our job.

I started making my meals. Like, cooking and baking again. I went to work. I came home to my niece. And I spontaneously went out with some friends. I bought a pair of heel boots that I would’ve never gotten because of my “tall and thin” beauty ideal that I couldn’t be taller unless I was thinner so I can’t wear heels. GOT EM ANYWAY. And we had a bonfire and made s’mores. 

I’ve been very intentional about self care time. 

This is what comes of it? This is what taking time for yourself and the ones you love does? Count me in.