**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
“Whenever life gets you down / You’ve gotta get up off the ground / and you’re gonna keep climbing up.”
Hi, I’m Robby Swenson, and you just read the ending lyric to my new full-length studio album Anorexia, available on Spotify, YouTube Music, and all other streaming services. But more to come on that later.
About a year and a half ago, I was battling an agonizing battle against anorexia. My days were filled with hatred, guilt, and judgment, and I didn’t see a path out of my situation. However, I was so blessed to have a great support system around me, and today I can say that I am no longer afraid to nourish my body both physically and mentally.
Let’s be 100% honest with ourselves and the world around us: Body image issues are such a real problem for so many people. I think that I lost sight of this fact when I was going through my battle with anorexia. And it completely makes sense how I could do so. In a society where talking about your struggles is taboo, it is easy to turn inward and shield your emotions from those around you who love and care for you.
That’s why I think we need to “stand up strong and climb the bars” that are holding us back from being the people we are destined to be. The only way we can prosper as human beings is to surround ourselves with love.
My album focuses on the emotions that I, personally, felt through my process of anorexia. Each individual track captures an emotion that I felt while I was struggling or on my path to recovery. I use an extended metaphor that compares anorexia to a prison cell, where I am “trying to fit through the bars” in order to be accepted into society.
The first eight songs on the album are heavy and hard-hitting, but the last three are where I start to realize that I can overcome my situation.
Late into “Realization,” a good friend (and GREAT vocalist) Ella Andrew helps me to realize that “it’s not too late” to choose a better life for myself. She encourages me that “if (I) can start to eat some good food (side note: “good” = enough to nourish me and my needs, not “healthy” as it is typically defined) / you’ll be back kicking and punching just like you knew you could.” She ends the song by encouraging me to “look over the bars” because she knows I can “climb them in no time.”
This message leads me to understand that “(I) can change for the better if (I) want to,” and propels me forward into a better, more sustainable lifestyle. Although it would’ve been “much easier / to fall back” into my harmful eating habits, I learned that I am strong, and I have the power to “push up off the ground” and tell my inner demons that they will “never take me alive.” I’ve finally gotten “Back to a world in which I / Defend myself not attack,” and it couldn’t feel better.
My final message is one of hope. Although “I’ve felt so lost at times / in the darkest of nights,” I have learned that if I “keep climbing up” that I can escape my feelings of inadequacy and find a more peaceful life for myself.
And you can, too.
I believe that nobody should have to feel the crushing effects of an eating disorder. Having an “ideal body” (if that is even a real thing) will never be worth the emotional turmoil caused by disordered thinking.
Finally, though the process of healing may not always be easy, know that it will always be worth it. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I implore you to reach out to a loved one and tell them about how you feel. If you are afraid to do so, remember that there is power in vulnerability. Working toward beating my eating disorder is the best decision I have ever made. I hope that, together, as a society, we can ditch our judgment and start encouraging each other to “keep climbing” away from our struggles with body image.