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A Road to Recovery

How minimalism helped me escape anorexia

Scales
Photography by Yunmai

“Do you know what the most self-deprecating thing is?” my psychology teacher asked us the first day of school. The class of seniors stared at her, as only seconds ago we were laughing about how fast the previous three years of high school have passed. She looked grimly across the room before answering, “applying for college.”

And it was, unfortunately, true. No matter where I walked in the hallways, there would be a conversation going on between students comparing grades, sports, and extracurricular activities. Someone would always be better than the other; succeeding more. In my mind, this meant that I needed to work harder, stay on top of the game, and come out better than those around me.

This mindset consumed me—and not just in school. With sports, there was always someone better. I was continually looking for ways to “beat” them, which led to an unhealthy behavior of eating less and exercising more.

Life became weirdly organized with nonstop activity between waking up and going to bed. In-between the two bookends, life was filled with school, chores, hockey practice, and after-practice gym time. Sleep was my favorite thing and it was the only time my body truly rested. I was trapped in my own life that I could not see the reality around me, and I refused to let myself see who I was becoming—a pile of skin and bones with sunken eyes trying to chase after another person’s dream, thinking it would lead to my happiness.

I was anything but happy and the only thing that forced the chase to stop was a hospital stay due to heart disease.

As I sat in my room upon the hospital discharge, I asked, “what now? What do I want?” I looked around at all the clutter in my room, filled with undesirable memories, and I shuddered. I grabbed a trash bag and I knew when I emptied the physical clutter, I was finally doing something for me. This is just the first step in my recovery, but minimalism has already cleared the path for me to identify what is important to me and what I need to do to move forward with purpose, strength, and self-efficacy.

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