Wow! God sent me a wake up call tonight. I have been struggling. No, not with getting intake, but with the want to do it. I have been doing the next right thing and eating anyway, but the will….well that hasn’t exactly been there. Till tonight. I got the wake up call I needed.
I was on one of my daily walks around the neighborhood (except today it was a nightly one) and felt perfectly fine. Was just thinking to myself and trying to encourage myself to stay with my increased intake even though the scales are doing some scary things as of late (okay it may not seem scary to normies…but going up a lb overnight freaks me out). But I decided ED had enough stealing from me. He has stolen countless chances to be with my family and almost stole my life. We had a family emergency this week and almost lost a family member and all I could think was if she had died, she would have never seen me recovered and that would have broken my heart. So today I was eating for her.
Anyway (sorry I get off track easily), so I was walking and feeling fine. I mean I haven’t been exercising just going on walks, which I figured there was no harm in especially with me fueling myself. I was almost home when all of a sudden, the world went topsy turvy and my body suddenly collapsed. I fell into the street and completely scraped up my knee and hand. Cars stopped and asked if I was okay and my body shook underneath me as I tried to stand back up and shrug it off like I wasn’t a skeleton of a person collapsing in the street. Luckily I got to my feet, but my gashed knee and hand were pouring out blood. I threw off the emberassment and the pain and hurried home.
As I stood in the shower, trying to wash off the blood and stinge of emberassment, my body shook in pain and became filled with chills and cold. It’s freaking 70 degrees out and again I was shivering. Standing in the warm shower just to get warm. All the sudden my mind flashed to the days of old when I was restricting and overexercising. They felt JUST LIKE THIS. Even though I am nourishing myself and relaxing, my body felt the same.
At first I was frustrated with my body. I was frustrated because it was showing what everyone else had been saying, that I was still sick. Sure I was feeding myself and not giving into EDs pleas to workout, but I am still drastically underweight and drastically undernourished. Even after 10 months in the hospitals, my body is still injured from the torment of ED. It was then my frustration turned to sadness, remorse, and a cry for forgiveness from my body.
You see, this is the reality of ED. The reality of the most DEADLY psychiatric illness there is (even more deadly than suicide….which is attempted death!) The reality is I, myself, had done years of abuse to my body. 18 years of abuse, 10 of those restricting and overexercising. Every day with anorexia I tore my body apart. I deprived it of food….the very thing it needs to survive. Food isn’t something for us to control because our lives are out of control, it is something we NEED. Something our bodies can’t run without. And the reality is when we decide not to give it what it NEEDS because of the scale, or the mirror, or just because we are too deep in ED to claw our way back out….we injure ourselves. I have injured myself. I have done years and years of abuse to my poor body and gotten it to the frail point it is now. I mean I weigh half what the freaking average American woman weighs. HALF. And as much as I want to think it’s okay because it has become my normal, it’s not. Eating enough to maintain a frail frame is not recovery. It’s just the same old abuse of this illness. That’s what tonight woke me up to. That at this weight….my body is still compromised. After years of abuse, I am only chipping away at the malnourishment it has to recover from. Reality is, no matter what the scale says, I not only need to keep this intake, but most likely need to increase it, just to undo what I have done to my body.
Seriously…I hope this wakes up whoever is reading this too. This illness, even when you are battling it is DEADLY. I am nourishing my body. I am giving it what it needs and more than I have given myself in a long time, and still it can collapse on me. Give out. And feel so close to death. I have countless friends whose lives have been lost fighting this illness. Because after years of abuse, they started fighting too late. I just hope and pray that is not the case for me. But I can’t dwell in that hopelessness and fear. All I can do is fight.
At my own hands, my body has gotten to this state. I have continued the torture of my past abusers and bullies by restricting my intake and depriving my body of the very substance it needs to survive. But the good news, the hope for us all---is that the same hands that have destroyed our bodies, our lives, everything…those same hands can raise up and fight this illness, restore our bodies, and reclaim our lives. With the help of our Higher Power (mine I choose to call God), the strength of prayer, and the support of loved ones, we can reclaim our bodies and lives. What do we have to do? Eat. Not just eat, but trust others to tell us how much to eat. Nourish our bodies with what our bodies crave. No matter if it is the scariest, most banned food. No matter if we haven’t had it in years. Our body deserves it. After all the years of abuse we have done, it is the least we can do.
Literally I am so awakened today and I hope this resolve stays. I just feel so bad that in an attempt to control my life, I controlled something my body NEEDS and I knew I was doing it. I was a freaking science major. I know the reality. I know my body needs food, and yet I deprived myself of it. Day after day, month after month, year after year I slowly but surely killed my body. Broke down the muscles, the organs, the functionality, everything. And now I sit paying the price….left to nothing but bones and a fraction of the energy my XC running, indoor cycling, weight lifting body once had. But I will get that back. I will reclaim my life. And I will not be a statistic.
I hope being this raw, this vulnerable, this honest helps someone out there. If you are in the beginning of an ED and think it isn’t that bad yet…be happy it isn’t and get out now. I said the same things to myself. I told myself I would never be this bad or that bad…whatever. But the reality is, it will get that bad. Days will turn to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years and if you do nothing you will stay in the dungeon that is ED…and things will get bad. It won’t even be about a number anymore, or a picture in a magazine (which it was never about for me)…it will just be about a true, deep fear of food…of the very substance needed for life. There is no replacement for food. You HAVE to have it, but you will become so paralyzingly terrified of it, that you won’t be able to give it to yourself. Even when you go to treatment, eating normal amounts of food will be crippling to you. Even hooked up to heart monitors, even undergoing life-saving surgery, even having seizures and going into a coma won’t be enough to take the fear away. Yes…it will get that bad. I was once one of those people who wasn’t “sick enough”. Things weren’t that bad. And I so wish I could go back to those days and stop myself right then and there. Not let it get to where it is now, because trust me…sick enough is not something you want. Months in hospital, osteoporosis, feeding tubes, losing intestines, having your heart, lungs, and kidneys fail is not something to be desired. And again…IT WILL GET THIS BAD. It will get to the point that even when you are fighting your body could fail. And….if you let it…no not even let it because ED becomes so big you don’t have control…so more…if you choose to not stop it…ED will take your life. I was once the person not sick enough…I was once the person who had only had ANA a few months, or a year, or a few years….and now I am the person who has lost my life 3 times to ED. Please, I am begging and pleading you….stop NOW….you don’t have to be sick enough. And trust me, even at this point, actually ESPECIALLY at this point ED will be so loud you still won’t feel sick enough.
And for those of you who are where I am, you can choose to fight too. I do each and every day. Some days ED is quiet, but others like today he is screaming. It is in those moments you have to remember and face the reality of your situation.You are dying and just one day, just one crumb, just one snack/one meal/one tiny portion can and will end your life. The reality is even fighting you can die, but at least fighting you stand a chance to live. And living matters more, family matters more, holidays at home matter more, dreams matter more, marriage, kids, graduation….it all matters more than ED, than fear, than scales (especially because you most likely know you are too underweight right now), than food. Choose life, choose freedom, and choose to say this is not how the story will end. Choose to use the hands, mind, and heart that once destroyed your body and life to reclaim both. If you are a Christian as I am, lay ED down at the cross and pick up the redemption of Christ. You can do this. You can save yourself. Rely on others, rely on professionals, rely on that still small voice inside of you pleading you to eat and release yourself from these chains. Trust me, if I can do it, if this girl who everyone had given up hope could recover can do it…so can you. You can do this. I can do this. WE can do this. One meal, one breath, one bite at a time WE WILL OVERCOME. I can’t wait to see you on the other side.
And so tonight…I do the next right thing. I release myself to eat what the doctors want me to. And as I sit down to face my black bean burger, bun, spinach, and HUGE baked potato….and later my birthday ice cream dessert…I will celebrate. I will celebrate the cookouts and birthdays to come. I will celebrate that God didn’t leave me laying in the street tonight. I will celebrate that I have gotten another chance to fight ED. Another day on this earth. And I will celebrate, and hope, and pray that my struggle today and the triumph it brought inspires someone else to fight. Please…if this has inspired you…let me know. It would mean a lot. And if you need ANYTHING…please reach out.
I love you all and pray you keep fighting. Remember you are never alone. Out there, somewhere, is another brave soldier choosing to do the next right thing and take the next right bite. Fight on warriors, fight on.