What I’d Say To My Younger Self (and you) About Life & Recovery

recovery - image of female from neck up, with head resting on chain link fence, orange died hair, and a serious expression on her face, and piercing in her lip

Last night I was reminiscing over super old pictures on my computer. I ran into a grouping of photos from the summer going in to my freshman year of high school. Long before I fought for recovery. A few things stood out to me…

  • I was wearing way too much black eye liner and makeup to be just hanging out at the pool (it’s actually kind of cringe worthy).
  • My cousins who are now growing into adulthood were babies.
  • I look so uncomfortable. You can totally see evidence of it it in my facial expressions and body language.

Now I know my eyeliner was pretty tragic. But was even more alarming was how vivid of a flashback I experienced from those photos. I remember exactly how I felt, what my thoughts were and most importantly how much I HATED my body that day.


One of the photos was taken on a hot August day when I was 14 years old. I was at the swim club my family belonged to. While I had loved the swim club when I was younger, I didn’t love it that day.

Here’s what I mean by “younger”: pre-pubescent, one piece bathing suits, and no worries about makeup, neighborhood friendships, or things like ice cream.

In this picture I had entered puberty a year prior. I was two years into my eating disorder. And I did NOT want to wear my swim suit that day.

My baby cousins were coming for a visit and my mom wanted to take them to our swim club for the afternoon. My eating disorder brain jumped right to the fact that I was about to be in a swimsuit. Yet I hadn’t worked out that day.

All I could think about was what I ate for breakfast and the distorted image I saw in the mirror that morning.

When we arrived at the swim club I was reluctant to take my cover up off. Underneath the mask of my cover up, I was wearing a dark blue two-piece.

My cousins begged me to go in the water. So I ran in, trying to run fast enough so that no one would notice my unmasked figure of a body. Once I tired my cousins out enough to need a break, we raced out of the water.

I don’t think I have ever run so fast in my whole life.

My cousins jumped on the towel and began eating lunch as I sat there in the chair with a towel tightly wrapped around my body.

At this point I turned to my mother and said, “I feel giant and gross and ugly. Do I look like those things?”

She promptly said “Of course not!” I sat in agony wrapped like a burrito, starving, and empty until it was time for us to head home.

Missing out

The saddest part of revisiting this story and looking at these pictures is knowing that I missed out on the chance to have an amazing time with family that I love. I was just too distracted.

Also what kind of example was I to my young female cousins? I might have even hurt my mom a little that day.

What angers me the most is the amount of stories like this I have from my childhood and adolescent years. The amount of times I missed being fully present at birthdays, parties, and school events is so sad.

And the fact is – I missed out on my own life because of my eating disorder.

Do you have stories like this from your past? Or even stories from the present like this?

Stop letting your eating disorder get in the way of you life!

That said, I know it’s hard. But there are so many reasons to stay in recovery. Here are 5 of mine:

5 reasons to fight for recovery

  1. You deserve your life.
  2. Your journey is yours and yours alone.
  3. Your eating disorder only wants your life to end. Refuse to miss out on ANY portion of your life that your eating disorder tries to take away.
  4. Remind yourself of your “why”.
  5. Know that life is more fun when you are present, connected and engaged.

There’s time to make new memories, Warrior. Keep fighting the good fight.

By Hannah-kate Coultas from Montecatini Eating Disorder Treatment Center

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1 Comment

  1. says: Laural

    This article was just shared ~ Discussions and awareness training about Eating Disorders need to be addressed beginning with school nurses and classroom teachers ! It is never too early to address this issue & Very few schools have the training ! There’s still Body shaming going on by school personnel : yelling peoples weight out loud , weighing kids in school in front of one another, telling kids they must finish their food instead of using cues like are you hungry are you full ? We can learn so much to improve the lives of children so please address the needs in our public schools & train school nurses and Phys. Ed Teavhers , cheerleading coaches, for that matter ALL coaches ! Thank you Hannah-Kate Coultas and Montecatini for publishing this as it can start the important conversation~ ❤️

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