I am beyond blessed to be living today and to be able to celebrate what makes today special - it is my 21st birthday!

I have so many mixed feelings about this day. Part of me does not even have time to celebrate because of all the work I have to do. Part of me does not want to think that I am already 21. Last year was a great birthday as well. But for the seven years before that, each birthday was clouded by ED. I could never have fun, enjoy my day, or even have a reason to live. For seven years, I suffered this way. But last year was different. Last year, I was recovering.

This year is different, too. This year, I am FULLY recovered. And I can feel the difference. There is no place for ED in my life anymore. Yes, there are still things that I am working on. For example, I still do not get hunger cues, and I still need to eat by the clock. I still get slightly uncomfortable if I feel too full after a meal. But, I am so much stronger now. If gaining weight makes me feel uncomfortable, I quickly ignore the feeling and realize that I am not fat. If feeling full bothers me, I realize that this is a normal feeling and it too shall pass. I can now look at my body and realize that I am not fat; I am healthy - and beautiful. And I am beautiful and unique, in my own way - because I am God's creation. Of course, I don't always have easy days. Some days are tough. But that is life. And we all have tough days. But now, I am learning how to cope with these days.

All of my experiences in the past 21 years have taught my numerous lessons. I'll be honest: my life has not been easy. I suffered with anorexia for seven years and nearly lost my life to this illness. Time and time again, I felt so overwhelmed by all my school work and I felt frustrated  and stressed. I've dealt with challenging situations in life. At times, I wanted to give up. I was tired of fighting, time and time again.

And some days, I still feel this way. But now, as I turn 21, I see how these experiences have turned me into the young woman I am today. I have learned to never give up, and to never stop fighting for my rights. I have learned to reframe each challenge as a tool that will make me stronger and wiser. I have learned that life does not get 'easier' - it is I, through the power and guidance of Christ, who becomes stronger. I have learned that I do not need to rely on others to give me happiness, appreciation, or praise. I have learned that each day I stay strong in recovery, eat all my meals and eat enough, and write my blog, I become more aware of why recovery was the best decision I ever made. I now see that each obstacle has made me the resilient and determined person I am. And no one can take this away from me. I refuse to let anyone or anything stand in my way of attaining success, happiness, and peace.

So, on my 21st birthday, I am grateful. I am thankful to God for keeping me alive. Each challenge I faced made me feel weak, angry, and sad. But now, looking back, I see why each situation happened. I changed because of each struggle I had. I became stronger, wiser, healthier, and happier. I learned lessons that no one could ever teach me - life alone taught me these lessons. I WILL be celebrating my birthday, because nearly dying in the ICU taught me how valuable and precious life is. I am blessed to be alive today, to have the chance to see what life looks like when one is not constantly hungry and starving to death. Is recovery always fun and games? No. But no one's life is always easy. My struggles have shaped me to become the girl I am today; a happy, healthy, strong young woman who will never give up on my dreams and will not allow anyone or anything to take away my inner peace and satisfaction. This alone is a reason to celebrate my 21st birthday. Happy birthday to me! I would not have come this far, nor would I be this strong and healthy, if it were not for the blessing of God, the love and support of all my friends and family, and the overwhelming kindness, love, and support that all my blog readers and online friends give me. THANK YOU. I am blessed to be living another year, fully recovered. 21, here I come!

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