26 Feb What I Lost: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
***It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so I wanted to do something to bring awareness. I wrote this blog post a few years ago about what it’s been like for me to deal with an eating disorder. I want the world to know that it’s okay to struggle. We all do in some way. Please reach out for help if you need it. I firmly believe that dealing with an eating disorder was not without purpose in my life—I want to use what I’ve been through to help others.***
I did it. I lost the weight.
Growing up, I was never one to focus on my appearance, but when people began to teach me that how I looked was all that I was worth, things changed. Being the perfectionist that I am, being made to believe that I wasn’t enough wasn’t something I could handle.
So I did what I was made to believe would fix the problem. I lost the weight. I did what I was told would make me enough. I lost the weight. But my brain didn’t know that losing one pound would turn into losing forty and that every time I reached my self-proposed “ideal weight”, my head screamed “not enough.” I developed an eating disorder that presented itself as a solution. But losing weight was never the solution I needed, and as the scale dropped, so did my self-worth.
I was told that pretty is important, so that is what I pursued. But pretty didn’t make me the butterfly that I wanted to become, and instead it turned me into simply the empty shell. I starved. I made myself throw up. I lost sleep. I lost weight, but I think the reality is, that I was mostly just losing myself.
There is nothing beautiful about crying on the floor of a dressing room, unable to see yourself as you really are. There’s nothing happy about your birthday when you spend it kneeling over a toilet covered in your own birthday cake-colored vomit. There’s nothing to be proud of when you’ve lost the strength to walk to class without getting dizzy. Society has commercialized the thing that was breaking me, and convinced others that this sickness is beautiful. That this is all worth it to be called thin.
This is not worth it.
My eyes didn’t shine like they used to. My rosy cheeks made way for pale cheekbones. I acquired the gap between my thighs that I had been pursuing yet realized that there was something comforting and balancing about the way your thighs touch each other. I began to see my ribcage, but in exchange acquired a heart that struggled to beat. I lost the weight, but I also lost my joy, my energy, my strength, my hope, and the ability to do all of the things that I loved.
But I did it. And I lost.
Society aren’t you proud of me?
People say that eating disorders aren’t real. That they are simply a diet gone wrong with the simple fix of “just eat”. Society calls us attention seeking, vain, and selfish. But nobody dies from an eating disorder for attention, and the grave feels no elation from your opinions. I did not destroy my ability to live for the sake of being more desirable to the opposite sex.
The reality is that eating disorders are very real and very dangerous. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Eating disorders are incredibly dangerous, but struggling with one doesn’t have to be a death sentence. There is hope in recovery and help out there.
This eating disorder took over my life. It was killing me, but it did not and will not succeed. My worth was never based in my weight, my worth was deemed the moment I came into existence. The truth is, losing weight never changed my view of myself, it just made me very sick. I couldn’t live life adequately when I didn’t have the energy to get up in the mornings. I was never meant to live a life of survival—I am here to thrive. That is why I chose to recover. Because I am enough. Because I am loved. Because I want to thrive. Dealing with an eating disorder was not my choice, but recovery was.
And that’s why I am writing this. Because recovery is not an easy choice to make. Because people who don’t struggle, don’t understand. Because darkness makes our struggles seem scarier, but bringing them into the light gives us power over them. I don’t want people struggling to be too afraid of judgement to speak up. Hope is very, very real, but getting help sometimes requires asking for it.
To those who know someone who is struggling, reach out to them. Let them know that they are loved and you are by their side. NEDA is a great resource if you have questions.
To those who are struggling. You will make it out of this alive. You worth has never been defined by your weight. Please reach out and ask for help. I know the idea of recovery is scary, but nothing is scarier than staying in this same hell we’ve been allowing ourselves to live in. Your life deserved to be saved, and there is so much joy in living a life of freedom.
I found it. Hope, I mean. And I’m ready to gain.
This post was originally published on To Write Love on Her Arms