February 24, 2011. That date will forever remain in my memory as the day I took my first breath of a new life. Though, I really had no idea that’s what was happening…
The thing about eating disorders is that you never know when the reality of the danger in engaging in a variety of destructive behaviors is going to catch up with you. My eating disorder developed in my teens and became increasingly worse throughout college. I was in the stage of life where I felt invincible. There were countless times I chose behaviors that compromised my existence – I thoroughly believed that it wouldn’t matter if I saw the light of tomorrow. Somebody thought I was important enough to keep around. That somebody, to me, is known as God. In the moments I didn’t understand that my life had purpose, that there was an avenue out of all the pain, and that I didn’t have to go through my struggles alone, I believe God pulled me through the trenches.
One day, February 24, 2011, that reality of the danger of engaging in destructive behaviors smacked me upside the head. I ended up in a room with a doctor that I would have never chosen to see. I had seen her once in the past and her abrupt and cold demeanor left me finding a new doctor. But on this day, her blunt reality check left me with an answer that I didn’t know I had in me. She asked me, “do you want to live or die? Because with the path you’re on right now, your body isn’t always going to keep holding on.” Without hesitation I responded with, “I want to live.” Those words. I. WANT. To. LIVE. There was a small part of me that felt ashamed, like I had abandoned my eating disorder, when I spoke those words. But, more than that, I felt like I had just surfaced from the depths of water and caught a gasp of air. A breath that brought the turning of a tide and light that I hadn’t experienced.
I was fortunate enough to return home that day after care in the clinic. And when I did, I locked myself in my room afraid to return back to my world without first absorbing the words I had spoken. I want to live. I remember the stack of magazines sitting by my tv stand. That day, I opened the magazines and the fight against all of the messages I heard that were tearing me down began. I had no idea what tearing apart words and letters of those negative messages each magazine held could mean for me. It brought affirmation through the diminishing of the eating disorder’s voice and a creation of something beautiful and hope-filled... the beginning of seeing what living life might actually be like.
Emily Estes lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her Goldendoodle pup, Miss Adley Mae. Recovery from her own struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression has led Emily to create community and resources to empower others on the journey. Emily owns Sage Nutrition, LLC where she serves as a Registered Dietitian. Her work revolves around her motto that "food is meant to nourish our bodies, not nurture us."