The Little Thing That Helped Me Let Love In
Five years ago, my nutritionist, Marci, started writing notes to me in my journal. The notes started out as a sort of transitional object, something concrete I could hold onto in between sessions. I needed these notes as hard evidence that I was not worthless, that I was cared about, that I was not so easily forgotten. Because anorexia is more than restricting food and calories; it is also restricting kindness, care and relationships.
During the lowest point of my illness, I pulled away from everyone and everything. One of the most painful aspects of my disease was my inability to let in love and care. Because of this, and because of my inability to feed and nurture myself, my first therapist diagnosed me with “adult failure to thrive.” After losing my mother to brain cancer, it was hard for me to trust that anyone was going to stick around. I was terrified of losing people. So I used my eating disorder to build a wall around myself, to protect myself, to prevent anyone from getting too close.
In a way, my eating disorder was a protection of sorts. If I didn’t eat, I didn’t have to feel. If I didn’t let people in, I wouldn’t have to hurt when the time came to say goodbye. If my mind was busy telling me what a horrible person I was, I wouldn’t have to think about my new life as a motherless daughter. If I focused on food and calories, I wouldn’t have to focus on my painful emotions.
The many years of therapy and eating disorder treatment I have received have begun to slowly chip away at that wall, and slowly, surely, I am beginning to let love in. And the notes that Marci leaves in my journal, faithfully, twice a week, have become the building blocks of a new wall, one that keeps the demonic eating disorder voice out. For every “You’re fat” comes a “You are worthy.” For every “You’re a disgusting pig” comes a “You are special.” For every “You mean nothing” comes a “You are cared for.”
Sometimes, when the day has been particularly bad and the voices particularly loud, I take out my old journals and read through Marci’s notes. They remind me I am a person worthy of care, love and support, no matter how hopeless and worthless I might feel.
With Marci’s help and encouragement, as well as the long-term support from my wonderful therapist, I have begun to eat more consistently. After having my precious son, I have gained and maintained a healthy weight. I have received many kinds of therapy over the course of my illness and have seen multiple professionals, both inpatient and outpatient; however, the key to my recovery to this point has been the acts of loving kindness shown to me by the professionals I have seen. Thankfully, I have reached a point in my recovery I never thought I’d reach when in the depths of anorexia. But there is more work to be done. I still struggle with the voices, the darkness of depression, the pervasive feeling of loneliness. There is still a long road ahead, and I am lucky to have my nutritionist by my side, guiding me and writing me notes to light the way.
The Mighty is for the following: Write a thank you note to someone who helped you through your mental illness. What about that person makes him or her a good ally? What do you want them to know? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.