"What doesn't kill you will always make you stronger," is a phrase I think I have heard about a million times in the past two years. I never actually believed it because while I was receiving that advice I had someone in my head telling me something different. “You’re worthless,” or “Your life will change once you finish losing the last 15 pounds.” I was once the girl who would eat whatever she wanted with no problems. I enjoyed going out with my friends, sometimes going to bars, watching movies and watching endless amounts of TV shows. My entire life I was brought up on television. My father works as a Production Manager for major film companies; my two brothers are photographers and cameraman in the film industry and I work as a makeup artist in what I think of as the ‘Family Industry.’
I thought that once my life started when I finished make up school I wouldn’t have any issues and I would finally be doing what I loved most in this world: makeup. After a winter of doing an apprenticeship program on a TV show called Remedy my life completely changed. I became obsessed with the size of my clothing, my food choices, calories, fat, carbs and other such aspects of my life. I began to see the world with a whole different outlook, something that I had never previously experienced and it all crept upon me within what felt like 24 hours. I was on a strict diet. I ate the same thing every single day for what felt like an eternity. After I lost all the weight that I had gained from the medication I was on, I was nervous to try new foods so I said “I’ll eat what’s on my safe list and go to the gym every day”. I stopped enjoying going out with my friends because I felt like they didn’t understand me and my life, I felt nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get to the gym every morning and if I didn’t attend in the morning I got major anxiety. My job went on hold, my large group of friends slowly disappeared and I saw myself staying in on what seemed to be every weekend because I was scared there wasn’t going to be any food that was safe for me to eat where I went. I couldn’t leave my house without the largest apple or banana. I also couldn’t leave my house because all I thought about was food. Nighttime was the worst time of the day because that’s when I was alone in my room. I felt like a prisoner in my home and especially in my thoughts. I watched myself lose complete control over my life.
I remember specific days where I knew I needed to ask for help. When someone has a mental illness as specific as an eating disorder we thrive on addictions. My addiction was baking and going to the gym. I loved watching everyone else eat my food while I wished I could eat it too. My friend came over, saw my diet and told me that if I didn’t help myself she would call my mother and get me the help I needed. That night I told my mom I was sick and I saw a doctor. I am extremely grateful for my friend because she made me realize what I had been denying for months. She saved my life. I remember crying out of shame as I told her what was going on. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t go out or go into my massive pantry with junk food without closing the door sitting on the floor and crying while having an anxiety attack as I stared at all the foods that I felt haunted me. I had an attack in that pantry almost every day for 6 months. I would go to the gym everyday with another one of my friends. Every day she watched me run to the scale and sob if the number I saw didn’t make me happy. She helped me realize that your life shouldn’t be defined by a number and the more the I ran to the scale the more I was letting a number defeat me. That was the day I made a promise to stop weighing myself and caring. I saw my life going in the complete opposite direction. Last summer I got my help. I went to a meeting at a hospital to diagnose me with an eating disorder and I started seeking help privately once a week. I remember the exact feeling I had sitting with my mother in the waiting room of the hospital. I felt scared. The rest of the day was a complete blank space as I was extremely overwhelmed with anxiety. I remember them making me remove my clothing as I watched them weigh myself, take my blood and check for swollen lymph nodes to see if I was telling the truth about not purging. I felt violated. I vowed to myself that day that I was going to do everything in my power to help myself. I began to realize that a small group of friends was better than a large group, and I started to feel safe that I wasn’t alone. I felt accepted and normal. I decided to take the help that was given to me by my two friends.
One whole year has passed since I began my recovery. Something that I felt would never end, has slowly become a voice I have learned to ignore. The voice never goes away but my therapist has taught me to ignore it. I have the most amazing best friends I could ask for who deserve huge medals for helping me along the way, and my mother who has been my support system and best friend from day one.
I thought my old life would return to me once I fully recovered but I learned that my new life in recovery is ten times better than the life I had before. I am in recovery and I am extremely grateful. My job is back on its way and I am on a road to bettering myself as an individual. I will be attending school again for 6 months starting in January. My life changed once I started letting myself do what I felt like I wanted to do. March of 2015 I said goodbye to the gym, diet, and the life that was holding me back. No one ever said your journey would be easy but it’s definitely worth it in the end. “You'll never leave where you are until you decide where you'd rather be.”
I said goodbye to ED and said hello to embracing what my life is. I don’t believe in dieting and I don’t believe in going to the gym. I would rather eat a bagel than hurt myself with addictive behaviors in the gym. I learned of other ways to exercise while not torturing myself on a treadmill. Dieting and the gym started my eating disorder and also silenced my eating disorder. I have learned that not everyone is going to understand your story and you can’t punish them for that. I felt ashamed of myself for months and I never want to see people hurting. I want to show people that you will be OK and that you will get through your darkest moments. I will be turning 23 in November, I will be going away on a trip with one of my best friends, and I work as a makeup artist for film and television.
For the first time in my life I am proud to say that my name is Larra Dassas, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I have an Eating Disorder and I didn’t let it take over my life.