Anna Bouncing Back Photo

I became acquainted with my ability to bounce back through the lens of appetite: all my young life, I constantly wanted. I believed that when people looked at me, they saw the opposite of perfection, and I wanted to prove them wrong by having the best: I wanted the best grades, the perfect relationship, the best clothes, the perfect body. The last of which I found far too easy to control: I was barely 14 when I learned that appetite and starvation were the keys to manipulation and getting what I thought I wanted. By the time I was 17, I was fully entrenched in an eating disorder, and there would not be in end to my turbulent lifestyle for several more years. Instead, I sunk deeper into my made-up world of self-loathing.

Before I could chase a new life to its fullest potential, I had to scrape around my own rock bottom and really get to know the person I had become. I had to be brutally, painfully honest with myself. I wrote thoughts down so they wouldn’t fester and take on lives of their own in my head. And then, one by one, I started making small but healthy choices, like baby steps. I was experiencing a sort of rebirth, but it was agonizing. I wanted to retreat back to the safety that was my eating disorder, where nothing and no one could touch me. And I admit that sometimes, when life’s challenges are exceptionally overwhelming, I still wish I could.

Bouncing back – recovery, in general – is always always up and down, back and forth, riddled with relapses, triumphs and constant questioning. But it is always, unfailingly worth it. When I bounce back and make the decisions to keep moving forward and building myself up, I feel more like myself than I ever did when I was surrendering to my disorder and tearing myself down. I have learned to take a firm and proud grasp on who I am: a young woman with a serious appetite for love, fulfillment, success, wonder and connection. Every single day, when I look at the life I was able to build by continuously bouncing back and surrounding myself with positive thoughts and people, I can feel the love I have for myself working; and I know it will carry me through the best and worst of times to come.