*Disclaimer-What follows may upset you. Please acknowledge that while it may be hard for you to read, it was harder for me to write and I expect respect when reacting to it.
To the darling in the corner,
I see you.
I see as you avoid the food table with a fury, hoping the meal passes without anyone noticing you ignore it. I see as you count up the numbers in your head of what each bite is worth and how fast you’ll have to run tomorrow to get rid of it. I see you run to the bathroom after you eat, hoping to stop your body from absorbing the very life saving nutrients you need.
I see as your friends brush off your avoidance as normal. I hear when your parents discuss in hushed tones what they should do with you as they look at you with side eyes and worried hearts. I feel your heart racing from fear as you step on the scale every morning, how many times are you at now? Five? Ten? Fifteen?
I see you as you begin the way down a rabbit hole whose power you have no idea the strength of. I see as you build a wall up between you and everyone else, a wall I need you to know will never completely come down-there will always be a ghost of that wall standing between you and those you love
I see you because I was you. I had just begun my treacherous journey with an eating disorder and I was as unknowing as you the can of worms I was opening up. I see you entering a misery I would not wish on my worst enemy.
Let us be clear, I am not here to elaborate on how low my eating disorder brought me. I do not want to tell you stories of the worst I was nor the weight I lost. My story is not one of an extreme-yes I lost a lot through my eating disorder and I am about to talk more about that, but I am by far not the sickest one you will hear. I am not the most successful one in recovery. I am simply one who has watched you avoid your lunch and wants you to know what you are actually avoiding.
I am not here for anyone’s pity nor support. Pity is a waste of my time and I already have more support than I could ever need. Those who need to know about my eating disorder have known for a long time and even those who did not know have been supportive through all my rough patches.
No my darling I am here for you. I am here to say I see you and to pray the things I tell you today may cause you to reach out to a loved one. I pray that a parent may read this and recognize their child’s “phase” may be more serious than they had recognized before and get them help. I’m writing this because this is a big part of who I am and the testimony I will never feel shame for because God worked hard to renew my soul and heal my brokenness and I am here because I am proud of where I came from and where I am today. This battle was not an easy one.
Most importantly I am here for you, the ones out there who have never allowed themselves to see their spouses, childs, or their own eating issues and hear what I am about to list out and react with fear. Those who will see it and decide they need help before they have to go through some of the things I have been through.
Before I continue I want to make sure this is very clear-an eating disorder is a serious mental health issue and this is in no way, shape or form me telling you that you can just avoid an eating disorder by doing X, Y, and Z. They are not avoidable and they are very serious, life threatening diseases.
Without a further delay however, I hope you choose to continue reading and see my list of things that my eating disorder cost me and how recovery has repaid and repaired, and it may not have yet, what I lost.
1. My eating disorder cost me memories I will never be able to get back. Go ahead, ask me what Josh and I talked about our first meeting. I don’t remember, I barely remember our first meeting. But I can tell you how much I weighed the day I met him. Numbers took over my brain and it’s ruined so many of the good memories I should have with my life. Recovery has given me a second chance to not only remember things, but the freedom from the obsession with numbers that constantly got in my way of creating real picture perfect moments.
2. My eating disorder took away my education. For those of you who don’t know, I walked out of my dorm rom my spring semester of my senior year of college. My body was hurting, my soul was hurting, and I couldn’t do the college thing anymore. It devastated not only my parents, who are huge on education(they’re both teachers), but it also devastated me. While I haven’t been able to return to school yet, recovery has given me that option. It has given me a world of options that I can study, learn, meditate on. It’s made the return a very real possibility in the next year!
3. My eating disorder destroyed my relationships with many people…and threatened the ones it didn’t completely decimate. I lost many friends while I was sick. Some left because I was no longer fun, some disappeared into the background as my obsessions became more and more intense. I am forever grateful for the ones who chose to stay, who held my hand while I cried over a piece of bread. But far more were lost. And those who couldn’t leave, or chose not to, my relationship with them took a huge hit. Eating disorders at the core are manipulative and cold. I lied more in the year I was the worst than I have in my entire life. I am still rebuilding the trust with some of the people I hid the truth from for those years. Recovery has given me that chance-and it’s given me a chance to make new friends and create new relationships, something I was incapable of doing before.
4. My eating disorder wrecked my body. Shockingly, it did the opposite of what I hoped it would do for my girlish figure. I fluctuated between what I struggled with, officially the diagnosis of OSFED(but we are not talking about that today!) and you do a lot of damage to your body when you yo yo with weights and food intake, as well as forcing yourself to throw up or exercise unhealthy amounts. Recovery has given my body some time to heal while being properly nourished, but the physical damage you could do to your body is a risk you do not want to take. Sadly, time does not heal everything and while being mental illnesses, eating disorders can do serious physical damage. But-recovery gave me the possibility of carrying a child then feeding that child(and myself!) with my body for 15 months. That is another win. One I am eternally grateful for.
5. My eating disorder nearly erased my relationship with God. Anyone who knows me, who has read this blog before knows that Jesus is a huge part of my life-pretty much the biggest part of my life. I knew I hit rock bottom when I refused the juice and bread on a Communion Sunday. I was metaphorically, refusing Jesus’ body and blood for my own worldly desires. I knew then I needed recovery more than I needed anything else. My recovery has given me a renewal I didn’t imagine possible. God renewed my soul and while He has not completely removed the pain from me, it is only in His strength I am capable of maintaining this daily. It is in Him alone I have been rebuilt into the person you all know(and maybe love!).
6. And last but not least, my eating disorder robbed me of friends. Not in the way I mentioned before; I do not mean it took away relationships I once had with these friends. The friends I speak of now are ones I will never get to see again. Ones who will never grace this world again. I lost these friends to the disease-either they could not leave or they could not escape the physical damage their eating disorder had on their body. No matter how long I am in recovery, no matter what I accomplish, no matter how many people begin recovery or get help before they lose their way-nothing will ever bring back those who have lost their lives to eating disorders or complications due to eating disorders.
There is a life after an eating disorder-I am living proof of that. I have many friends who are proof of that. But I do not want others to have to deal with the pain it takes to get to the after-I want you to be able to live without it ever taking over your life. And not everyone has the happy ending my journey did.
Please, if you or anyone you know may be struggling with disordered eating check out this website for more information. This is a pretty good list of the warning signs you can look out for when worried about disordered eating in a loved one. I am here as a resource for anyone who needs help in this area: whether you need help for you or for you child. I can gladly point you in the direction of many other resources as well.