Here, for the first time, I am sharing my eating disorder story publicly. Since my recovery, I have turned the negative energy of the illness into a positive, by creating an app to help people navigate, track, and recover from eating disorders. This mobile application is called Brighter Bite.
I was diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa (a type of eating disorder) in the summer of 2019, at the end of my stressful sophomore year. I’m not going to lie; this was a very tough time. It was the summer break, and I was alone in a new city. There were times when I felt hopeless, like my life would be doomed by this evil “demon”. Binging and purging were my biggest shame that I tried to hide from everyone, and gradually I became isolated from my family and friends.
Adherence to the eating disorder secret was inflicting a heavy toll on all aspects of my life. However, the light of hope shines even in the darkest times. My outlook began to change when, with all my courage, I revealed to my loved ones and closest friends that I was suffering from an eating disorder. They offered me tremendous compassion and support. That, I think, marked the start of my recovery journey.
On my road of recovery, I was lucky to encounter great people and to find great tools. The turning point occurred when my boyfriend Henry recommended a self-help book, Getting Better Bite by Bite. I was in a situation where I couldn’t find a matching therapist and was feeling lost in the recovery process.
Getting Better Bite by Bite, together with many other resources, provided a toolkit that ultimately guided me through recovery. Looking back at that journey now, I feel empowered, with a newfound passion to advocate for eating disorder recovery. Fighting against an eating disorder can be daunting and overwhelming, but recovery efforts don’t have to be like this. I want to make recovery easily accessible, trackable, and properly guided. This is how Brighter Bite started.
I feel blessed. During the development of this project, I got much love and support and truly experienced the kindness in the world. At the start of the project, I sent an email to the authors of Getting Better Bite by Bite without expecting a reply. But just a day after I sent the email, I got three emails in my inbox from Professor Treasure, Professor Schmidt, and Dr. Alexander, saying that they were willing to help. Their support was invaluable, with much helpful feedback and resources. I am deeply moved by their willingness to help, and am often amazed by their generosity. They are the kind of people that I aspire to be. The app also got much endorsement from the eating disorder community. I chatted with many people who shared their eating disorder experience and feelings with me genuinely and openly. This project could not have come to life without the support we have received from the community.
There is another person that I want to mention — my boyfriend, Henry. He was always there, supportive and loving, during my worst times, when I was lost, when I was struggling. Henry held my hands and walked through those hard times with me. He jumped on board when he heard that I was developing this app. I am fortunate to have him in my life.
I remember something Dr. Alexander said in our first meeting: she said that the eating disorder experience can be empowering when the negative force of the illness is turned into a positive. This is exactly how I feel now. I feel that I have been born again, that I have rediscovered myself. With recovery, I started to see the bright sides in life. I became more hopeful and loving than before. And now, I want to spread this love to all of you, who might be experiencing an eating disorder. I care about you and want to help make things easier through the tough times.
My desire to spread and share my app’s useful recovery tools to the world has motivated me in many ways. It pushed me to learn a new developing language for mobile application in three days (luckily as a computer science major, I had the technical skills to help me do so). I don’t know how to describe it, but I have felt happy and grateful while developing and working on the application. To imagine that there may be someone in this world whose recovery can be a little easier with the help of my app. Wow, this is an amazing feeling.
Recovery has been a wild ride, but I know that I have emerged stronger. I want you to know that with the right help, an eating disorder is curable. I hope that Brighter Bite can become a knowledgeable, resourceful, and caring buddy to help you navigate through those dark times.