Celebrating All the Small Victories
Posted on May 10, 2021
The first time I received help for my eating disorder I was asked, "What does recovery look like?" Being in an art therapy group at the time, I quickly grabbed a few colored pencils from the plastic box in the middle of the table and drew a girl with a bow in her hair, standing on top of the highest mountain among a terrain. Recovery to me at that time meant overcoming my eating disorder; it meant being "on top" emotionally and physically. It meant being "done," "over it," "moved on."
While this well-meaning drawing still hangs on my bedroom wall almost ten years later, I realize that is not what recovery looks like. I have found recovery is not "one moment on top of the mountain;" rather, it is the cumulation of all of the small victories every time I say no to my eating disorder. It is every time I eat in response to my body, not my mind; it is truly "being in my relationships," not distracted calorie counting or thinking about my body. It is buying clothes that are flattering, rather than obsessing over the size…that is a really hard one. It is rejecting and letting go of rules, perfections and our general diet culture. It is standing up for myself before my eating disorder.
My journey to recovery has not been linear, and it is hard for me to stay aligned with my recovery at times, especially when I am with my family. Having a mom with an eating disorder, who rejects getting help herself, has made it hard for me to stay consistent with my own values. However, since I have chosen recovery I have created a very big life for myself, one I am not willing to give up in the name of the eating disorder. One that has allowed me to share my own mental health story—one that has allowed me to become a mental health advocate, entrepreneur and author, and one that will allow me to continue to follow my passion.
I used to think about the eating disorder living inside of me and making decisions even without my permission, and now I think about the fire ignited in me to make a change in the world—-that drives my decisions, my will and my life; and I am so happy about that.
Dayna A. is an alumna of The Renfrew Center of Boston. She is a bold and authentic mental health entrepreneur, author and public health professional based in Boston, MA. A dual graduate of Northeastern University, Dayna brings both professional experience and personal expertise into the work she does for her community. Dayna has held several roles in the human services field working with youth in mental health settings and women who have experienced domestic or sexual violence. She has also created several of her own advocacy organizations specializing in mental health advocacy. Her entrepreneurial adventures have helped her become a professional speaker, a documentary filmmaker, and an author of two books, using food to create a palatable and accessible way for all to approach mental health.