I Will Rise Again

By Maggie PetersonNovember 6, 2017

When you have an eating disorder, people think that because they can’t see your bones anymore, you’re fine. I’m anything but.

I once heard a quote by Blythe Baird that said, “If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital. If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story.”

I used to be a success story: “Girl loses her Freshman 15!” the headlines would have read. But then the voice in my head got greedy, and I kept losing weight.

Then, I got caught.

“I know your friend has an eating disorder. But you don’t, do you?”

I had an out. It could’ve been so simple. One word, two letters, and I would’ve been free.

But I didn’t say no, I answered honestly.


That was 3 years ago.

4 treatment centers ago.

XX pounds ago.

I suffer from atypical anorexia. The voice in my head hates that there’s another word in front of anorexia. “You couldn’t even do that right,” it hisses. Atypical anorexia covers all the diagnostic criteria for anorexia except that the individual’s weight is within what is deemed healthy limits. And according to BMI, my weight was never abnormal/unhealthy. Thus, the atypical anorexia diagnosis. “There’s still some time. You can lose some weight and get down to an anorexia diagnosis,” it continues.

Author Marya Hornbacher describes this in her book, Wasted:

“You eat your goddamn Cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head that keeps telling you you’re fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I’m busy, leave me alone. When she leaves you alone, there’s a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes…There is, in the end, the letting go.”

But telling that voice to quiet so I can try to move on with my day isn’t easy these days. There are so many things I’m trying to distract myself from—primarily the cancer diagnosis my mother recently received.

It hurts.

And I’m just not OK.

Sometimes I wish that my body looked like the pain I feel on the inside. Changing my body, losing weight, would provide the illusion that I’m in control of my seemingly out-of-control life.

Disordered eating makes my world smaller. When I’m sick, I have a hard time focusing on anything else because my brain is so focused on calories and numbers and weight and all the foods I’m depriving myself of. It makes sense that I would want to go back to my eating disorder and its small world considering my current world is bursting with things that hurt.

I wish I could say that after 3 years and 4 treatment centers, I’m completely recovered.

I mean, I could say that. It just wouldn’t be the truth.

So here’s the reality of the situation: I’m coming up on the third anniversary of the day I entered eating disorder treatment for the first time. And I’m still struggling.

But I’m trying.

I’m falling and rising again. I am the (wo)man in the arena, as Brené Brown would put it. I’m fighting and getting knocked down, but I’m getting back up, day after day. I may not be the strongest, but I’m resilient as hell.

And I’ll rise again.

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Comments (16)

  1. Anonymous

    “You will miss her sometimes.” Oh yes, I know that feeling. But, to being “resilient as hell.”

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  2. Rebecca

    Amazing article! Thank you for sharing. Don’t give up!

    Reply  |  
  3. Shannon

    Thank you for sharing your experiences – I admire your honesty and strength. I take comfort in your words… “I may not be the strongest, but I’m resilient as hell.” My prayers are with you on your journey. Like you, I will rise again too.

    Reply  |  
  4. Adriana

    I’ll be praying for you and your mom, I’m sorry love! ? I love that “I may not be the strongest, but I’m resilient as hell”; really stuck out to me so I made it my wallpaper. Bless you Maggie, Stay strong!! ??

    Reply  |  
  5. Lee


    Reply  |  
  6. Jonathan

    “You couldn’t even do that right,” This line resonates deeply with me as I always feel like I have not done enough damage to my body for it to really count. I was mortified when the nurse stated that my scars were “not serious” during my admission process at a mental health facility. Medical diagnosis only deal with what they can quantify and measure (bmi, damage etc) so we cant let this get us down because what we feel is not measurable. I love the line “I may not be the strongest, but I’m resilient as hell” I may not win every day and eat every meal but I am still here and I am still fighting.

    Reply  |  
  7. Melissa Johnson

    I have weight. I look like Skeleton & skin, lost muscle, and my hair is thining. a
    My situation at home has cause extreme stress which had affected my appetite. I noticing a significant wight loss in April. However I recognize now I’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Im afraid bc I know I’m going to get worse and don’t know what to really do about it. This is the only 2nd time I’ve voiced my concerns. This only happened bc I stumbled on your organization and the very 1st message I read is hers. Thank you

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      Please know that you are deserving of hope and help and taking care of your body, which includes nourishing it with food. We encourage you to reach out for help from a professional. We list resources on our Find Help page here: twloha.com/find-help and think you might find this site helpful as well: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

      We also want you to know that you can email us at [email protected] any time. Our team would be honored to hear more about your story and offer you encouragement in any way that we can.

      Hope to hear from you soon.


      Reply  |  
  8. James Elliot

    Thank you for sharing your story with others. Hopefully your story will help others be honest about what they are going through and seek help. It takes a strong person to stick through a treatment plan. Remember, your well-being should always be first priority. All the best wishes for your continuous self-improvement. Know more : unleashyourpower.com

    Reply  |  
  9. Anonymous

    Stay strong! Very good article!

    Reply  |  
  10. Abby

    Maggie, your writing is a gift to me. Thank you. I’m reminded a ton of my story from reading yours.

    Reply  |  
  11. Emilie T.

    I’ve been struggling on and off with anorexia/bulimia (EDNOS-ish) for coming on 10 years now (in October of this year, it will be the 10-year anniversary of my entry into my first treatment center). I can’t seem to stay symptom-free for longer than 6 months, if I can make that. I am going to keep this post because it gives me hope. It’s difficult to explain to people how such a normal thing like eating can be so complicated and cause someone so much pain and so many problems. Your line, “I suffer from atypical anorexia. The voice in my head hates that there’s another word in front of anorexia. ‘You couldn’t even do that right,’ it hisses.” No. One. Else. Understands. That.

    It comforts me to know that someone- many- are fighting this with me. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      We are so glad that Maggie’s words resonated with you, Emilie. Whether you go a few days or four months, we are proud of you for caring about yourself enough to work toward healing and recovery — because you deserve it.

      You are most definitely not alone, Emilie.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  12. Adina Kingstrom

    Thank you for your post and your honesty. I had a very brief problem with bulimia, but with therapy, I don’t feel the need to anymore. I actually wrote a “Dear John” letter to bulimia, like it was a person. I told her every reason why I hated her.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Adina!

      We’re really glad you found help and went to therapy! Writing a letter can be a very therapeutic process, whether it’s to a person or our mental illness.

      Thank you for sharing a part of your story with us. We’re grateful to be included. Know that we’re rooting for you, always.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  13. Kate

    This is very helpful and encouraging to now other r going through the same. That it’s not always one straight diagnosis. We don’t all fit into one area. But there is still something wrong as we think. We are not crazy. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply  |  
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