Content warning: the following piece discusses personal experience of an eating disorder.
The below letter is written by 19 year old Tykara Lang.
Tykara has experienced an eating disorder and shares her recovery journey to help others. Tykara’s treatment program with The Butterfly Foundation was funded through financial support from Sportsgirl.
I stand before you as a glimmer of hope; that it is possible; that recovery is achievable. From fights at the dinner table to looking forward to a meal, food stuffed down my clothing to helping myself to seconds, spending Saturday nights hooked up to nasogastric feeds to going out for a dance with my friends.
These are the small, but most crucial, elements of an eating disorder which are stripped away from so many thousands of people. Entrenched in the constant and vicious cycle of restriction and relapse throughout most of my adolescence, I have spent a vast amount of my days and nights in hospital settings and treatment rooms.
Developing a heart condition as a result of the immense pressure I placed on my body, my doctors informed me in May 2016 that I would not make it to the end of the year if I continue along this path of destruction. With my family having very little hope in me, I sought treatment with the Butterfly Foundation upon being discharged, from what would be my last hospital admission. Through intense treatment three times a week, incredible support and absolute determination, I have been able to regain my life.
It was Sportsgirl, who made such an opportunity possible, in providing me with a scholarship for this treatment. You saved a life, my life, and that is something that I am and will forever be grateful for.
In being asked to do this, I pondered for quite some time about how I wanted to convey to you the hardships, journey and empowerment I have found through my journey in recovery. Stuck on a blank page for all too long, I wrote myself a letter that I thought that I would share with you.
A letter to my body but most of all to myself,
Confined and obsessed to the realm of body image for the past four years, I write this letter as a daily reminder to myself of the person that I am moving away from and instead to the person that I am becoming.
I want to firstly apologise, for not taking greater care of you; my body. My naivety sought me to believe that I could squeeze myself in to the ‘perfect’ mould and somehow find the happiness that I craved so badly; I was wrong. I suppose it was too late to realise the individual nature of perfection, that I am enough just the way that I am.
I want to appreciate you and all of the potential that you have. It is you, my body, that keeps me upright, allows me to hold another individual, bring another being in to this world, run in the sand, climb up the mountain, pull the door open, jump on my bed.
You have been worn down by my stress and anger, neglect and hatred and I thank you for never giving up on me. I have starved and hid you, purged and overworked, yet here you still are holding me up. No longer will I disrespect but instead embrace you, in all that you are, and trust that you will continue being my vehicle. I will not hide in oversized clothes, nor will continue exerting myself when in pain. I will let you rest when you need and respect the limits that you have.
I will see myself as an entire entity – of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual potential – and remind myself of this when seeing my reflection in the mirror. I will not measure my self-worth on a quantitative figure, for I have substance and greater depth than just a number on a scale; values and passions, experiences and effort, goals and purpose.
If you feel like you need a reminder:
- Remind yourself that losing weight does not directly vary with your level of happiness.
- ‘Fat’ is a noun, not an adjective. You cannot feel fat, just as you cannot feel muscle.
- That you are an individual; not designed to be, look or act like anyone else.
I take my pledge to nurture and embrace you. I will accept my flaws and differences, curves and bumps. There is no ideal body and no perfect shape – we are merely striving towards the constantly changing perceptions the media perceives as beautiful – and I object to that. I stand to not change for anything that does not deserve to be. Let me be me. Let others recognise my worth through my intelligence and compassion, rather than the size of my waist and circumference of my thighs.
I am enough just the way that I am. I accept myself just the way that I am.
If you, or anyone you know is experiencing an eating disorder or body image concerns, we encourage you to reach out for support. You can call the Butterfly Foundation Toll Free National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 or visit their website www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au for more information.