How Star Wars Helped Me Get Through My Eating Disorder

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My eating disorder has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but let’s be honest, everyone hates their bodies and is scared of food, right? I remember being 8 years old, and telling myself things like “you cannot eat all of your sandwich today,” or “today, you can only eat vegetables or fruit,” and sometimes even “you are fat and not good enough.” So in my mind my eating disorder has always been my dark side. The thing that held me back in life, it made me feel anxious, angry, frustrated, and out of control. Even though it made me feel out of control it also in a weird way felt like the only thing I had control over. On the other hand my light side was a happy, energetic place where I could let my imagination run wild.  I remember feeling like the world was my playground and I could create my life however I wanted it.

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Star Wars was always a great movie to watch no matter the occasion. Whether it was a rainy day, sunny day, if I was feeling depressed about something, happy about something, or needed some excitement in my life, I could always turn to Star Wars. It gave me space, light sabers, the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo, Princess Leia’s hair, good vs. evil, Yoda, and two awesome Droids. When I was a little girl my favorite movie was the Return of the Jedi because of the Ewoks. They were the cutest things and not to mention, they helped saved the galaxy, so of course I wanted one as a pet to hang out with and protect me. Win – WIN. My other favorite character was R2D2, he was by far the coolest character. He was up for adventures and would always be the first one to do what was right by stepping in and taking charge. He wasn’t scared of anything and would always be there for his friend or “owner” – Luke Skywalker. R2D2 was confident with himself, knew what the right thing to do was and he would stick with his decisions no matter what. Even though he was a droid he had such a great personality that even to this day makes me want to go on adventures with him.

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The more I struggled with my eating disorder, which I use to call my “ness” because I never wanted to give it a name, the more I felt like my dark side was taking over. With my need to destroy it, but subconsciously wanting to hold on to it because it was such a part of me, the story of Star Wars resonating more and more. That in the battle of good vs. evil it isn’t as black and white as I had believed when I was growing up. In the story of Star Wars, Luke had to face his anger, the dark side, which was subconsciously a part of him but had to choose to not allow it to rule his life. Anakin Skywalker, on the other hand, also had the dark side but allowed it and his anger to get the better of him, which took over his life and led him to become Darth Vader.

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Last year, I finally decided to take on something that held me back in my life. Even though not many people knew about it, it got in the way of many of my relationships. Often times, if not every time, I chose my eating disorder over them. Well, until one person who made me realize I did not want the dark side to win anymore. I didn’t want it to control me anymore.  I realized I didn’t like this person I had gotten used to being, and I didn’t even agreed with her.  I also realized I had allowed my light side to be buried deep deep inside me. Not knowing where to begin to get back to the light, I chose to go to a treatment center to have an assessment.  At the assessment I was thinking/ hoping that they would tell me, “you don’t need to be here, you don’t have an eating disorder.” Deep down, I knew that was complete crap, but my dark side didn’t want to allow me to let go. I wasn’t sure I was ready to walk away from my “comfort,” this thing I knew for so long. I was so scared that the dark side was so encompassed within me that the light would not be seen again. I was scared the light burnt out and gave up on me and I was already too far dark to cross back over.

 

Realizing that going to a treatment center was the only way I was going to get better, I quit my job and decided to jump in 100%.  Once I entered in, among many things, one thing I held on to was the story of Star Wars to help keep me motivated along the way.

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Yoda served as the wise Jedi master throughout my treatment and I was his young padawan. His wise words he spoke to Luke resonated with me. In my apartment, I have a little chalkboard and on it I have the quote from Yoda “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Among many things, including my support team, my parents and my girlfriend; this quote helped me so much. What I take from this quote is that as long as I was putting effort in, which in this case was going to program, eating food, and dealing with all the emotions that were coming up – I was doing. With doing I was on the road to recovery. Progress was naturally going to happen because day to day I was doing not just “trying my best.” Not that I believe “trying your best” is bad per say, more that “trying your best” is more about being your best and so again, “doing” your best.

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Another thing Yoda said was “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” For a long time I was afraid to do anything about my eating disorder. The more I held on to it, the more I suffered though. The things I really wanted in my life, the life I wanted to live wasn’t tangible. I was angry with myself for a lot of reasons and I held this anger deep inside of me. I considered myself to be stupid for having an eating disorder. I considered myself selfish for having it, a fuck up, weak, and worthless. However, the more angry I got about having an eating disorder the more I allowed it to control me and consume me. This quote reminded me that I had to learn to accept things rather than fear them. Fearing them would ultimately give them more power.

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In the fight for good vs. evil, the evil (my eating disorder) was always looming in the background. It was a force so strong that it would sometimes cause me to lose sight of the bigger picture. The dark side would literally cloud my perception and I couldn’t see the light anymore. Sometimes while I was in treatment, I would think about and remember the scene from Empire Strikes Back where Luke follows Vader into the woods and then uses his light saber to chop off Vader’s head, but when Luke looks down at Vader’s head he sees his own head instead. This would make me feel like no matter what we face in life, it all has to start from the core – It starts with ourselves. I know more often than not, I am my own worst enemy. I am the one who stands in my way of doing or going after things I want. In order to really conquer and beat my eating disorder and come over to the light side I had to face myself. I had to look myself in the eyes and stop doing what was keeping me from achieving what I wanted out of life.

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Also, in this classic tale it all comes back to family. Granted in the case of Star Wars Luke’s Dad is the evil Empire destroying the galaxy and my dad is the furthest thing from evil. When I would have my individual therapy sessions, we would discuss things that would encompass growing up or where I came from. I could see from myself and along with many of the other girls that attended program, how we handled situations stemmed from how we grew up/ how we were raised. Often times the inner demons we were dealing with came from our families. Growing up I often felt like the outcast in my family. I always felt this pressure to be someone I wasn’t to match their ideals. Through Star Wars and my treatment, I was able to see that we both could be right and hold our own truths. We could each walk different paths and it didn’t make me the dark one. I can’t lie; I still struggle at times to accept this. However again, this is another reason why I love the story of Star Wars, it is demonstrated within the characters of Luke and Anakin, they had the potential for either the light or dark side and they were able to choose which one they would let shine through. Every day I have the choice to let the light shine, to let myself continue to work towards this person I want to be.

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The journey through recovery was something I never could have prepared for, never could have even guessed accurately what it would entail. Before I went into treatment my girlfriend got me a R2D2 backpack. On my first day, I put that R2D2 backpack on, I hopped on my bike and reminded myself how R2 never second guessed himself, was always up for adventures and did what was right. And I did my best to never look back as I entered the doors into my journey to recovery.

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