The endless blue rippling. The salty breeze refreshing. The heartbeat of the crashing waves. The cotton candy sky, painted with strokes of saffron, tangerine, and coral. Something about my surroundings is so statically serene, so vitally dynamic. As I gaze out at the vast ocean, I no longer see that harrowing image of my 12-year old self drowning in a sea of uncertainty. I no longer see, but instead I feel. And I feel small. Not the kind of insignificance I feel when my numbers taunt me, negating my self-worth. It’s a kind of relative, freeing insignificance, reminding me that my problems are microscopic to the eyes of the universe. To be humbled by this immensity and content with that is lightening.

As I stand before the crowd, this memory crashes over me, refreshing me with a newfound momentum of purpose. I stare into the eyes of my audience, feeling a similar type of immensity in this room—not an immensity characterized by vast, physical size, but an immensity of the heart. The currents of perseverance and fortitude flow through this group therapy room, moving me in indescribable ways. And again, I feel inspired by this humility. Today, after three years of grueling, worthwhile work, I am once again standing in this familiar room, no longer as a patient, but now as a motivational speaker. I am no longer the mere listener, desperate to silence the intoxicating voice of anorexia, but proof that with patience and effort, these adolescents too can learn to love fully and live freely once more.

I see a girl, no older than eleven, slumped on a torn, leather couch in the back corner of the room with an unparalleled sadness in her eyes. I remember looking at the dark circles under my eyes and realizing that the creature staring back at me did not radiate the beauty I thought starvation would feed me. I want to embrace her and wipe her tear-stained cheeks, to convince her life is worth fighting for, to show her the spectacular, humbling enormity of the ocean blue. I wish there was a way I could nourish her fading soul with my regained love for life, to just shake her and make her understand that anorexia is not the solution, but the root to all her problems. I wish recovery could be that simple, but like most fulfilling journeys in this world—like love and friendship and self-actualization—it’s not.

“Everyone, please graciously welcome Simran Bansal, Project HEAL Ambassador and Numbers Don’t Define Us founder. I hope you can retain hope from hearing her moving story,” the group therapist warmly introduces.

I smile wholeheartedly as I recognize that today, I will finally tackle the ocean’s infinity. Today,  will finally start my quest of #HEALingTheWorld. I smile at the bereaved little girl, and for a second, I swear I see a flash of faith radiate over her pale azure eyes. I am on a mission—although I do not possess the power to merely hand out “get-out-of-internal-jail-free” cards, I want to use my own insight to facilitate her healing process. I close my eyes, hearing the soothing heartbeat of the waves, and I start, commencing a new, brighter chapter in my life:

“I used to think that the universe was some moral compass, its decisions guiding me toward some greater future. I now know that some things in life just don’t make any sense, and it’s as simple as that. There is no reason buried under all that confusion—after all, it is scientifically proven that the universe has a disposition for entropy. Knowing this, I am now on a journey to create my own reason for my suffocating encounter with anorexia. And I think I may have found it. Battling anorexia has made me realize that I, too, want to help those weathering similar storms. I am thankful for my anguish, for it has given me perspective….Sometimes it takes a battle to find beauty.”

This post is dedicated to HEAL Week, Project HEAL's first-ever annual awareness week that starts tomorrow!! "HEAL week will highlight ways that members of the Project HEAL community are helping to HEAL themselves, others, and the world, through social media engagement and live events." I am so grateful to be a member of this awesome organization advocating for an awesome cause! Because of Project HEAL, I am able to #HEALtheWorld by sharing my story at various eating disorder treatment centers and educating students in health classes! To keep this positive momentum going, please feel free to donate here: https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1007230 :)

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