Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
Author: Melanie Aldis
Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date.
My name is Melanie Aldis and I have a message of hope for recovery. My message comes from personal experience, passion, and from the heart.
I had an eating disorder for ten years, from the age of thirteen to twenty-three. I am now in my thirties. Unfortunately, I don’t have much memory of those ten years, only bits and pieces. What I do remember is that I felt inadequate at a very young age. I never felt pretty, smart, popular, or accepted as me. I thought I was just plain old average or less than and that wasn’t good enough. I don’t remember how or when the eating disorder started, but I know that underneath it all I had intense self-hatred. Eventually the eating disorder became my entire identity and that is when my process of self-discovery came to a halt. I thought that the eating disorder would help me find thinness, beauty, and the answer to true happiness and success in life. As you all know, the excitement and glamour of the eating disorder does not last forever. My life was consumed with food, insecurities, and my outward appearance. While other kids were learning what their favorite sports or colors were, I had my head in a toilet.
After ten years of slow suicide, my esophagus was eroding; I had heart burn all the time, and my heart would randomly beat irregularly throughout the day. What kind of existence is that? I discovered that I wasn’t invincible and that if I didn’t do something I would be “the girl who had died of an eating disorder.” I wasn’t ready to leave this world with that kind of label. I didn’t know what my purpose in life was, but I knew there was a reason I had to keep holding on. I was finally ready to fully commit to recovering from the eating disorder.
After ten years in the illness, my relationships with my boyfriend, friends, and family had deteriorated. At this point I could not stop on my own, but I knew that didn’t make me a failure. What I needed was to be in an environment that could save me from myself. I needed to be surrounded by people who cared about my life because I didn’t. I checked myself into an inpatient facility. During that time, I was the “perfect” patient. I was an inspiration to all and the one who would reach out and become a role model for the other patients. At the same time, I was screaming and yelling at my mother in the middle of the night telling her that the clinicians in the facility were the enemy and that I was just trying to survive their evil plan to make me “fat.” Not surprisingly, I ended up signing myself out after 30 days. At the time, I thought that I was the expert about what I should weigh and that they were just out to turn me into a hideous beast. When I got out, I thought that those 30 days had reversed the 10 torturous years with an eating disorder. It hadn’t. I thought that my little time of freedom from the eating disorder gave me another identity, which I defined as “perfect recovery.” The thing is – perfection never lasts. I have now learned I am perfectly imperfect.
Does this story sound devastating? Well – this illness is devastating, yet I have been blessed in finding the way out. I have learned that I am a smart, funny, beautiful, successful woman who had an eating disorder but is not an eating disorder. I am now a representative of one of the most incredible treatment programs I have ever seen. I work for them not because I need this job, but because I choose my passion in life of helping others instead of choosing to die.
I am grateful for being a part of something so meaningful and fulfilling. I hope that people struggling with eating disorders have a reliable and caring person or people in their lives to hold on to their desire to live until they can do it themselves. I was lucky enough to have that, but I don’t believe that is the only way out. If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, look within your heart to find out why you haven’t given up. There are reasons, important reasons. These reasons can help you walk the long and challenging path of healing. Hold on to those little daily miracles that keep you alive and use them as inspiration to reach out for help. You may feel alone and scared, but when you ask for help something beautiful can happen. I believe that you want to live, and I know that you deserve to live. Through my recovery process I had the opportunity to learn about me. My biggest lesson is that I can not be defined by one label. I am Melanie Aldis – and those two words alone have so many definitions.
With love from my heart and my soul,