I tend to be a very dramatic, animated, and expressive individual, so when given a praise, my exclamation back would usually be an, “Oooh! Thank you so much!” However, this Louis Vuitton “Tootsie Roll” handbag is not your typical, “I went to the Louis Vuitton store, wanted a bag, so splurged and purchased one.” This bag has far more meaning and significance, with an overwhelmingly life-altering experience behind it. Literally, this Louis Vuitton handbag turned on a switch in my brain, redirected my thoughts, and allowed me to begin my recovery from anorexia.
Recovering from anorexia is far more complex than one can ever fathom. Recovery was like an obstacle course. I truly felt like I had to climb over, crawl under, balance, hang, and jump throughout the entire process. Even though my drive and motivations became purposeful and positive, I still hit several bumps along the way. Some hurdles were more challenging than others, but to get to the finish line, each one was as equally important. The more intense barriers even caused minor and major set backs.
I had been in psychotherapy, on medication, and in agreement that I needed to make significant changes to my lifestyle if I was ever going to conquer my eating disorder. I just was unable to turn myself around in the other direction. So when my parents presented an incentive, with the support of my psychiatrist, my ears perked up, my eyes opened, and I listened carefully. The deal was that I had to gain 10 pounds in 2 weeks, which would bring us to the first day back to school. If I reached this goal, I would get my Louis Vuitton handbag. If I did not, I would not be returning to college. In addition, if I did earn this prize, but relapsed, it would be taken away from me immediately. I began finding motivation and reason to begin the frightful uphill battle.
I am extremely aware that my rapid decline in health should have been incentive enough to adjust my way of life. But, unfortunately, my mind was so twisted that any rational thoughts were obsolete. From the sounds of it, I recognize how shallow and materialistic I appear, especially after I soon detail significant health issues I incurred. Sadly, this was a case of a mental health disorder that, truly, can happen to people you least expect. The shame, guilt, and stigma that I experienced through recovery and beyond is indicative as to why people continue to struggle to reach out for help.
As a result of my extreme weight loss, I had developed many health issues and risks along the way. I had lost my menstrual cycle for almost a year, risking my ability to potentially conceive. With the combination of excessive exercise and significant weight loss, both of my achilles tendons became severely inflamed and sore, which easily could have led to a rupture. Caused by a loss of a heathy layer of insulating fat and lowered blood pressure, my body temperature was always very low. I regularly walked around with noticeably blue-looking lips from being so frigid. Even my large, baggy sweatpants did not keep me warm.
Today, 12 years after my recovery from anorexia, I, still, tote this bag around town. I carry it with pride, accomplishment, and anguish. Similar to my eating disorder, my handbag symbolizes multiple emotions. The depressing memories, setbacks, and challenges I endured during my battle makes my heart twinge. At the same time, the strength, determination, and toughness necessary to overcome it makes me smile. So, my simple, “Thank you,” is by no means a somber response. I just choose to not reveal the overwhelming magnitude behind the Louis Vuitton in such a quick exchange of words.
My journey through my eating disorder and its recovery was a long, tedious process. It took a team of individuals and groups to support, encourage, and allow me to conquer one obstacle at a time. I am excited to share detailed stories that led to my ultimate revitalization. The irony is that my Louis Vuitton bag has not aged one bit. The Louis Vuitton brand is universal, traditional, and prevalent among men and women throughout the world — just like an eating disorder. My wish is that more people can find incentive, strength, and determination to overcome a personal struggle. For me, it was my Louis Vuitton “Tootsie Roll” handbag.