It's National Eating Disorders Awareness week. I feel it's my duty to say something, as I haven't said something about it for a long time, I wasn't sure exactly why I didn't feel comfortable talking about it, but now I think I'll say something. Debt to society or something. Debt to all those who helped me.
Just to recap, I struggled with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia for most of my time in high school and about a year and a half in college. To those who struggle, I want so much to tell you it gets better. Because it does. Hopefully someday something will happen that makes you realize that you're not ok and you need to change. You're not bad. Heavens no, you're not bad. But you're not ok either.
I also want to say that maybe I did something wrong in getting better, but it's never really gone away. It's a weekly, daily thing to consciously decide that my weight does not define me. I have to decide that because if I don't, then my weight indeed does define me. It's not as much of a struggle as it sounds. At first it was incredibly painful, then it got easier. Now it's almost always easy to decide.
My friend suffered from depression. We promised each other that by the end of the month (years ago), we would both seek help to try to feel better. Her about life, me about myself. She fulfilled that promise by the end of the month. I never did. I wish I did, but I didn't want to change. I've still never sought professional help for it but I'm living. I'm healthy by my own standards and by medical standards now. And so far, and for so long, I'm winning the battle.
Maybe I was born like this? I read a lot about eating disorders. They say that it's not just a way of thought, it's the way your mind was built. I hate the phrase "I was born this way", and people wear it with pride. First, you have no right to be prideful of how you were born because you played no part in your own birth. Second, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world born with emotionally and physically damaging problems. They don't want to be told that's how they were born, because it makes them feel like they can't change. And worse, with the glory of owning the way you were born, they feel like they shouldn't want to change, so they DON'T want to change.
And so I didn't change. It certainly wasn't something the media did to me. I'd see pictures of emaciated women as models and it wouldn't phase me. But I'd read stories about people who struggled with eating disorders and I wanted to be them, like they had control or something. (Maybe that's why I don't talk about this as much as I thought I would, because what if there's someone out there like I was...) So I didn't look for help. And my eating disorder destroyed my life for many years after that.
Until one morning I woke up and realized (now this sounds sad but I promise it's not) I realized how much time I was wasting. I had a life. Not everyone had that. And I was throwing it away by destroying my health. I started living after that. I had blessed friends, family, roommates who looked after me. But in the end it was my decision to make, to try to live. Because really, that life was not living. It was obsession.
People would tell me I was losing weight and I'd pocket it like a complement. People would tell me I didn't look healthy and I'd blow them off because I saw something else in the mirror. I don't want, in any way, to shame those around me, because, for the most part through this, I remained secluded. And then I moved away and I remained alone. I wasn't close to people. I wish I was. I wish someone would have grabbed me and pulled me to get help. I wouldn't have wanted it, but it would have helped. The problem was that no one knew until I'd made a decision to change. I just now know what to do if someone was like I was. But truly in the end it was no fault of my loved ones, in fact, it was their presence (despite how much I tried to draw back), and care in my life that was my saving grace.
That decision I make weekly, daily, about what defines me... what defines me are the friends I have, my family, my husband. I must be ok if they like me and care for me. What defines me is my drive for my work, the things my hands and words can do to change the world. What defines me is the laughter sent from heaven through the children I work with, someone is watching out for me up there and cheering me on if I've got this much laughter in my life, someone has to be.
What defines me is the firm knowledge that I'm here for a reason and that I have to take care of myself so I can fulfill whatever reason that is.
My story might be a little different, honestly, I don't know what's "normal" because I never talked to any doctors about it, and they never talked to me. In all likely hood my story isn't normal. But then again, there are 6.5 billion people on the earth. Chances of me being completely unique are slim. So maybe my story helps someone.
Because I fought an eating disorder.
Because I haven't ever given up.
Because I'm not alone.
So neither are you.
For more information on eating disorders, please visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/