Sara sits in an office at CMHA Waterloo Wellington’s Weber Street location, smiling and laughing.
“I’m just way happier with myself,” she says. “I know I don’t have to look a certain way at all.”
For Sara, the change is a dramatic one – just a few years ago, she confesses, “I hated my body – every bit of it.”
“I always thought I was the fat one, or that there was something wrong with me, and that my worth was determined by how I thought I looked […] It took over a big part of my life,” she says.
“I had just moved to a new school that I wasn’t originally zoned for, and so I didn’t have friends to start off with. The eating disorder took over the part of my life for me to make friends, and build relationships, and start that new chapter – always thinking about what I ate, and if I was working out, and making sure that I was working out. It gradually got worse, so it was taking over even more of my life as I went on.”
“I didn’t want to hear a single thing anybody said. I was shocked as to the fact that I was doing something wrong.”
With encouragement from her family, Sara ended up accessing CMHA Waterloo Wellington’s Eating Disorders services.
“I didn’t realize that on my own, but my dad and the people around me noticed that I needed help, and [that] I was deteriorating physically and emotionally,” she says.
“I didn’t want to hear a single thing anybody said. I was shocked as to the fact that I was doing something wrong, because I thought, I’m smart; I know what I’m doing; who are they to tell me? They know nothing. I’m so grateful that my dad took me in, and even though it was hard and I didn’t want to hear it, it still made me realize that maybe you could go about this a different way.”
Working with CMHA Waterloo Wellington’s team of nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, dietitians, and therapists, Sara began to make progress and changed the way she viewed herself.
“I had to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to eat – you know, this is good for you. And it was good for everyone else around me, too, to be able to not worry so much about what I was eating, and [for me] to actually enjoy the other aspects of life that I was neglecting,” she says.
“I used to work out because I hated my body, but now I work out and eat healthy because I love my body, and I want it to grow and develop.”
“I’m just way happier with myself. I know I don’t have to look a certain way at all.”
Her confidence today has grown to the point that she’s shared her experience with peers and classmates – even going as far as travelling to other schools to speak about overcoming her eating disorder.
As for the advice that she offers others?
“I would absolutely avoid all numbers. Anything that you used to define yourself with, ignore it. Go by how you feel, and how your clothes feel on you, and who you have around you. And definitely don’t compare yourself,” says Sara.
“I’ve learned that I can be a little bit hard on myself and those around me, and that I’m far more capable of things than I believe. I made it through this, and it was all by accepting that I was wrong […] I do get those down days, but I always remind myself of those things that I learned in the beginning about my worth not being valued by numbers, and how I shouldn’t compare myself.”
Learn more about:
- Eating Disorders Family and Friends Education and Support Group
- Getting help for someone you know with an eating disorder
- Getting help for yourself in overcoming an eating disorder
- Important resources for topics related to eating disorders
In order to protect the individual’s privacy, their last name has been withheld.
Photo is by Ethan McCandless and is used under a Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0). Original found here.