Submitted by Kristine Strangis, EPF Volunteer
My eating disorder has put me through a lot, but I have chosen to learn from these experiences and turn them into a positive by expressing myself through art. Battling an eating disorder for as long as I can remember has really given me the strength, courage, and freedom that I needed to finally have a voice in this world and use this voice to speak out in order to inspire others.
Recently, on my journey throughout recovery, I have been learning to find myself beyond the eating disorder, and that can only happen through experience. By exposing myself to my greatest fears in treatment, I was able to take what I had learned into the real world, and, working hard to earn this “just do it” type of mentality, I had gained the motivation that I needed to express myself and my art that I had kept silent for so long. Now that I have the courage, curiosity, and spontaneity that I had found within myself through treatment, exploring this amazing world and all that it has to offer helps me appreciate all of the little things so much more. I feel like I am finally reawakening to life again, finding myself beyond the eating disorder as I continue to choose recovery.
Being a writer and musician, I wanted to try expressing my art in new ways, just to see what it would feel like because, honestly, what have I got to lose? So, I started trying new forms of art such as knitting (which was not a personal favorite of mine), playing the piano again, listening to Disney (my childhood) music, decorating my room with things that I believe inspire and define me, reading a fiction novels and poetry again, being out in nature, reconnecting with old friends through social media, and using my voice by publishing my writing on this blog. All of these hobbies came out either great or not so great, but at least I tried them, that was the whole point. Exploration is the only way that we are going to find ourselves outside of our eating disorders and, although it is hard, you may find that the rewards are well worth the effort.
The most surprising thing that I found myself to like was fashion. Who would have thought that me, an introvert who would rather spend all day reading and writing, would love shopping, wearing makeup, painting my nails, and putting outfits together. It is like a whole new person has emerged from inside of me, a person that my eating disorder had kept silent for so long, but was always there deep down. I always knew that I had an artistic and creative side, but that was masked behind the structured, miserable, rigid, and isolated world I had chosen to live in with my eating disorder. Now, I am choosing freedom and life and I have never been happier.
I used to think that wearing makeup, shopping, and all of that, as considered by society- “feminine stuff”-was conforming to the patriarchal hierarchy that keeps women silent. But then, after I broke away from my eating disorder and chose to live my own life, I realized that my eating disorder was the very thing that forced me into believing this, keeping me in the dark about my true passion to express my inner beauty on the outside. This was a revelation for me, and I hope that it can inspire you to go out and find yourself in whatever passions are calling to you.
Finding myself throughout the journey of living with an eating disorder was hard, but, now that I have done it, I feel like nothing can stop me from chasing my dreams. Being recovered has taught me not to get so caught up in labels, whether you like to wear makeup or not, it is what is on the inside that people find most beautiful. So, do not be afraid to search for yourself because, truly, that is what life is all about. Never let anyone tell you who you are supposed to be, only you know who that is deep down, so let that light inside shine through all of the darkness, and you will come to a better place.