Developing an eating disorder was not my first brush with mental illness. Having suffered from severe chronic pain for 10 years by the time I was 23, I developed major depression, self-harming tendencies, and anxiety before the time I finished University. The last in this string of maladaptive coping mechanisms was anorexia. Fueled by stress, catalyzed by isolation, and kept secret due to shame, my eating disorder consumed my life for nearly 5 years before I took it upon myself to get help. It took two tries, a few doctors, multiple therapists, a support group, and a no-nonsense dietician to finally get me on the track to real recovery... and thank god, because I've never felt freer.