I Will Never Not Have an Eating Disorder.
Half stream of consciousness, half love letter to myself.
Having an eating disorder really fucking sucks.
But not for the reasons you’d probably think. I mean yes, it sucks when your hair falls out, when your period stops, when it hurts to sit on anything because you’re basically just bones, when you spend 99% of life feeling like you’re going to pass out, when you’re afraid to leave the house because you know people will stare at you or god forbid, even try to help you. It sucks when you keep secrets from the entire world, when you immediately scope out the bathrooms every time you go to a new place so you know exactly where you’ll be throwing up later, when you lie to your co-workers and say you have a severe gluten, nut and dairy allergy so you get out of going to Burgatory for a team lunch, when you rip yourself apart for seven days straight because you ate two extra bites of an apple, when you feel the need to punish yourself for the apple so you run 10 miles a day for the rest of the month.
That all sucks.
But the worst part is that even after you do help yourself, and after you gain all of the healthy weight back, and you get your period back again and you’re full of energy, and you’re not looking for the bathroom, and people aren’t afraid for your safety constantly… even after all of that,
WHAT SUCKS THE MOST IS THAT IT DOESN’T GO AWAY.
I’ve been in recovery from anorexia and bulimia for over five years now. I gained back all of the healthy weight, I’ve had my period back for years, I have a ton of energy, I workout a few times a week (when I remember to), I don’t punish myself with food restrictions or excessive exercise. Technically speaking, from a physical perspective, I am fully recovered. It’s as though I never even had a problem.
But mentally, I feel it will always be part of me. I can’t fathom a day where I eat an apple and my brain doesn’t scream (this apple is approximately 85 calories). I don’t do anything with the information. I don’t calculate my daily calories, I don’t make decisions based on this number. But it’s still in my brain and it still makes itself known. I hope that a day eventually comes where these useless facts about calories and carbs and sugar don’t permanently reside in my brain anymore. I just want to find those pages in my mind, shred them, put them in a blender, shred them again, and throw them into a fire.
I struggle with body image most days too still. I know this isn’t something specific to people recovering from ED. But I know my body image struggles intensified quite a bit because of my disorders. It’s so weird to think about and so hard to explain, but even during the worst parts of my eating disorders, I still had severe body image problems. Even when I was at my “goal weight”" of 84 pounds, I still hated myself. I actually hated myself more than ever. Having an eating disorder is such a mind fuck because the closer you get to your goal, the more miserable you feel. I remember looking at myself in the mirror, from the side, with my shirt pulled up. I was skinnier than I could have ever even imagined being. My head was so disproportionate to my body, I looked like a Bratz doll. And I just remember thinking to myself, “You look disgusting. This is no one’s idea of attractive, but this is what you’ve done to yourself.“
You dedicate your entire life, day and night, to reaching this impossible to achieve goal of thinness; and the entire time, you know you’re killing yourself. It is a constant battle between this absurd desire to be extraordinarily thin, and a desire to live. Do I want to be 83 pounds next, or do I want to survive and live a normal, healthy life? Seems like an obvious answer, but it was the hardest decision I had to make every single day.
I’m lucky enough to have come across some incredible therapists and doctors over the past several years that have completely flipped my life upside down. I never look at myself with hatred anymore, I never restrict my food, I never overexercise. But I still struggle sometimes with separating my worth as a person from my size. I will continue to work on it every day and I’ll never act upon those frustrating thoughts again.
I practice telling myself I’m a FINE ASS WOMAN every day regardless of my size (highly recommend, it feels pretty great). But I still work hard and wait for the day that I just eat and move about this world like a person who has never had a convoluted relationship with food and exercise. I know that’s a lot to ask for and I know there’s endless work I have to continue to do.
But in the meantime, I’ll continue to be obsessed with myself because I am strong, beautiful and fearless.