To My Old Friend Anorexia: It's Time to Let Me Go

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Dear Anorexia,

It’s hard to remember when we first met – so many of my childhood memories revolve around our times together. We were inseparable for many years; people could barely tell where you ended and I began. But it’s been a while. We’d drifted apart; I was wrapped up in my own life for so long – but now, like all very best friends, it’s like we’ve never been apart.

I was surprised by how easy it was to pick up where we left off; how quickly our old ways of being together fell back into place; how old habits reformed and how soon enough we were finishing each other’s sentences, completing each other’s thoughts and prioritizing our time together above everything else.

But the thing is, and it’s really hard to be honest about this, I’m not sure I have time for our friendship any more. It’s just so intense and leaves little time for the friends I’ve made and the family I’ve grown while we’ve been parted. I feel that perhaps you’re resentful of my other relationships because you seem to seek a perverse pleasure in preventing me from spending time with the people I love the most. You seem to want me all to yourself and you work hard to prevent me enjoying time with my children, with my husband and with even my closest friends. I wonder too whether you’re jealous of my achievements? It feels like you’re doing all you can to undermine and sabotage everything I’ve worked so hard for.

And you’re just, well, such hard work to be around. I spend my whole life walking on eggshells when I’m with you. I heed your voice above everyone else’s for fear of what will happen if I don’t. And when I’m with you I seem to lose sight of my senses and I do and say all sorts of things I wouldn’t normally even dream of.

So I’m sorry, but I think perhaps it’s time we parted ways. I won’t ever forget our special times together; I’ve learned a lot from you and much of what I do is inspired by the times we’ve shared – but I just don’t have time, either physically, or emotionally, to continue to make space for you in my life right now. I can’t just get up and walk away. I care too much about you for that and our relationship goes back too far; but I hope that perhaps we can start to find time for other people and other things in our lives…  And I hope we can do that soon, before it’s too late. Do you think we could try that?

I do hope so because I’m tired, and I’m fed up of letting people down because of you. I’ve come to realize that when we’re together, I’m not the best version of me – so please forgive me and quietly let me go.

Your old friend,
Pooky

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? 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.

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An Apology to My Body Recovering From an Eating Disorder

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Dear Tummy, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the times I pinched you and poked you and called you fat. I’m sorry for all the times I left you hungry, screaming out to be fed. You’re steady and well-made; you’re firm and stable. I promise you’ll be hungry no more. Never again will I let you suffer. You are perfect, just the way you are.

Dear Shoulders, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything I told you. I said you were too big, too wide, too hefty… But you are broad and muscular, and I like it. You pull me through the water with such grace. You are wonderful. You are perfect, just the way you are.

Dear Hips, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I loathed your flesh. I shunned you curves and wished to see your bones. Back then, I didn’t realize I couldn’t do without you. I love your curves. I love your shapely bulge. You are perfect, just the way you are.

Dear Legs, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the cuts and the bruises. I’m sorry for all the times I punched you and called you chubby. You may jiggle when I walk, but you are strong and able. You hold my hefty weight without a strain. You take me places, such great places, and you stop me from falling down. You let me run and skip and twirl. You are sturdy and capable. You are perfect, just the way you are.

Dear Feet, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the days I spent hating you. I’m sorry I doubted you. You are strange. You are unique. But you are beautiful, funky and magical. You let me dance. You help me climb and you let me be free. You are perfect, just the way you are.

Dear Face, I’m sorry. Do you remember what I said to you? I called you ugly, grotesque and odd. Odd you may be, but you are also enchanting. My eyes, an eerie portal to another world. My nose, weird and wonderful hooked over my bowlike, coral painted lips. Face, you are perfect just the way you are.

Dear Body, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve mistreated you. You are my little piece of this universe, and I’m sorry for hurting you. I’m sorry for not feeding you, for ignoring your pleas for nourishment. I’m sorry for continuing to exercise when you were on the verge of collapse, screaming out at me to stop. I’m sorry. You are amazing. My little vehicle for awakening. A mode of transport I rely on. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for keeping me alive, even though I mistreated you. Thank you for giving me another chance to live. I won’t mess it up. Body, I’m sorry. You are perfect, just the way you are.

illustration of female body in green dress
Illustration by Danni-Mae Kirkup

This post originally appeared on ohavocado.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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A Letter to Myself When I Was Diagnosed With Anorexia

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Dear Lize,

I know you’re only 14 and you haven’t had it easy in life thus far. I’m sorry to tell you things will get much worse before they get better, but have hope. What feels like it will crush you will actually pass. The darkness will lift, and when it comes again, you will be prepared and know how to handle it. You will have to fight hard, harder than you might be able to imagine right now, but you will break through the depression, the feelings of hopelessness and the self-hate, and will eventually discover all the suffering you experience won’t be in vain.

When the therapist tells you that you have anorexia, you won’t be familiar with the term. Many years after you hear the term for the first time, the word “anorexia” will become established and well-known, but don’t be scared of a diagnosis that isn’t common right now. The obsessions and compulsive behaviors you experience and engage in are part of your eating disorder. You may not realize it now and might feel stubborn and indestructible and even angry at the thought of changing, but those very behaviors could kill you. In fact, you will come very close to death before things turn around.

When you become an outstanding runner in high school and feel like the anorexia is helping you run faster, know that it’s really not. You have talent and you work hard; that’s why you run well. Don’t listen to your coach when he talks about your weight. You will not run more slowly after gaining one pound. That is ridiculous, and you should know your health is more important than trying to please others. Mostly, when you have to back off running, have hope that you will still be OK. It may feel like your dreams were shattered when your running career came to an early end due to injuries and complications related to anorexia, but you can form new dreams. Keep dreaming, because there are many avenues you haven’t yet explored.

No matter what struggles you go through, know that you are not alone. You have friends and family members who will not give up on you. You will make them proud when, against all odds, you go from having seizures and being told you won’t make it to flourishing. It won’t happen overnight. Your journey back to health will take years, but you won’t regret taking that first leap of faith into the unknown territory of recovery. 

Keep in mind, people who don’t understand your illness will say hurtful and unkind things. Most of the time, they don’t mean it. They just don’t know what can be triggering to someone struggling with anorexia. When your neighbor keeps saying you “look healthy,” don’t take it as something bad. Try to see that he means well and that it’s a sign that you are succeeding. You are fighting your inner demons that he doesn’t realize seem real to you. That negative self-talk in your head will lessen in time as you continue to heal.

As you get older, more and more people will have suggestions on how to overcome eating disorders. Know that everyone who struggles is unique and has his or her own path to travel. There is no secret formula or pill that will cure an eating disorder, but there are key factors to address in recovery. You don’t have to alter who you are in order to recover; you just have to rediscover who that person is, and you will find her, Lize. I promise you will.

Listen to your mom. She is wise, and she loves you.

Though it seems impossible, you will become a mentor to people struggling one day. Make sure you are in a place where you can give back before you do, because recovery takes a lot of energy and effort. You have to be strong and know how to create healthy boundaries when you help others, but giving back is essential and will make you feel better. You don’t have to be cured or 100 percent to start giving back, but make sure you keep taking care of yourself when you do.

One day, you will teach others the following:

The issues you have around food are a red flag that something else is going on in your life. learn to identify real emotions. “I feel fat” sometimes means there’s something else to address that’s unrelated to food and body image.

You are not your eating disorder.

Trying to control your food is a way to cope with uncomfortable or unidentified feelings. You can’t control what happens around you, so it’s tempting to try to control what you do or do not eat.

Your identity is not based on what you do or how thin you are.

Be kind to yourself.

It takes work to reach self-acceptance and self-love when you are recovering from an eating disorder.

Breathe.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself on the day of the diagnosis. 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.

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To the One Friend Who Stuck With Me Through My Eating Disorder

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To my best friend,

I remember the first time you came to visit me in the hospital. I had a NG-tube up my nose, and I was so nervous it would scare you or that you’d see me differently. Of course, it was just my own anxiety — you were hardly taken aback when you walked onto the locked psychiatric ward to find your best friend in one of the worst states of her life.

When I was first diagnosed with anorexia, you were the first person I told. It was a good choice on my part, because you gave me a hug and told me everything was going to be alright. You didn’t judge me. You made me feel safe and like I could talk to you about anything.

Throughout this journey, you’ve time and time again made me feel like I could forget about my problems when I was around you. When I first called you from the hospital, you distracted me with stories from your summer. When I got out, you were there to celebrate with me. When I told you I had to go back into treatment, you took it in a stride and helped me figure out what I was going to pack.

As my illness has progressively gotten worse, I’ve gradually lost contact with the large majority of my friends. You are the only person I held onto, because you are the only person I can truly spill my guts to. I feel wholeheartedly at peace when I am with you. I chose to use the little energy I had to maintain my relationship with you because you are, to put simply, my best friend. You have stuck by me through thick and thin, and you have never once given up on me.

I want you to know I appreciate you. I know I may not always tell you that, but it’s true. You make me feel truly happy, and I love you with all of my heart.

Love,

Katy

Katy and her best friend take a selfie.
Katy and her best friend.

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 [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.

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To the Little Girl With an Eating Disorder

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Dear sweet child,

I know your pain, I know your torment and I know your struggles. I can see through your plastered on smile and fake laughter. I can see through your artificial confidence. Why, you ask? Because I’ve been where you are now. Truth is, maybe I’m still there.

But sweet little girl, you are worth more. You are more than a number on a scale, or the size on the itchy tag attached to your jeans. You are more than what’s on the outside. I’m sure many people have told you this, and I know it can feel hard to believe. Maybe you you look in the mirror and want to die. You don’t understand how people see you. You tell yourself they’re blind, or that they’re lying to make you feel better about yourself. But my love, they are not. You are one of a kind. There is no one else on this world like you.

I don’t know if I’ll make an impact, because as I’ve said, I’m sure you’ve heard numerous times how beautiful you truly are, but I hope you’ll listen. I’m a young woman who feels the same way about herself. A young woman, who at age 10, started starving herself. A young woman who was once that same 10-year-old, who is now almost 23. A young woman who believed those lies for so long  she almost died way too many times to count. A young woman who spent most of her young life hating herself, wondering why she is the way she is. And sweet little girl, I don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I have. Anorexia won’t bring you happiness, it will bring you the opposite. It made me miserable. You might not be able to get out of bed, never mind run a race, or go to prom and dance, or even have the energy to just shower. Maybe you’ll become thin, but you’ll never see it yourself. No matter how much weight you lose, every time you look in the mirror, you will see the same girl staring back at you.

You see, you lose more than weight. I lost friends, jobs, boyfriends, sports, hobbies, my grades and my will to live. It left me laying in a hospital bed being force fed through a feeding tube.

You may be thinking that this will never happen to you, that you will stop before it gets to that point. Well precious child, I thought the same thing, and now, thirteen years later, I’m sitting in a nursing home being force fed through a tube, unable to walk because my muscles are too weak.

I wish at the age of 10 I had the words to reach out for help. Sure I can recover now, but I’ve not attended college yet and I can’t hold down a job. I’ve lost a lot of my life because of this.

So sweet girl, when I tell you you are beautiful, know I’m not lying. It’s the mirror lying to you. It is the voices in your head lying to you. My prayer and wish is that you start to believe this. Do for me what I could not do. You are worth so much more than all of this.

Sincerely,

A young woman who cares.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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To Rachel Platten, Who Gives Me Strength to Conquer My Demons

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I am sure you get many letters, fan mail and gifts. I didn’t send you a letter about how you’ve helped me because, well, I am sure you get lots of those. I recently saw you singing with a young girl who has cancer, and your song “Fight Song” helped her immensely. You see, there are many illnesses out there, not just physical ones but mental ones, too. And I want to express how you have helped me.

I have been struggling with anorexia nervosa for almost 13 years. People tend to brush it off because they don’t understand the facts about eating disorders. They quickly classify us as vain, attention-seeking and selfish. But this is far from the truth. There are many reasons I developed this disease. I have a lot of family issues and I have a personality trait of being a perfectionist (it’s my one sense of control). I didn’t have an image in my head of a celebrity’s body that I wanted to attain. I just wanted to be thin. I wanted to be skinny enough to be loved, to be perfect. I just wanted to be enough.

When my anorexia started at age 10, I didn’t even know what an eating disorder was, never mind that I had one. It quickly escalated and I developed severe medical issues. I have almost lost my life numerous times, and I believe the only reason I am alive has to be God. I’ve had heart damage, and there was one point where most of my organs were shutting down because I was in septic shock. My latest health scare happened a few months back. I started having multiple seizures a day. I ended up in the hospital where I spent three weeks trying to get them under control.

bekah georgy
Bekah

Now, for the past month I have been stuck in a skilled nursing physical rehabilitation facility — a 22-year-old in a nursing home. I lost almost all muscle strength in my legs. I can’t even stand longer than 30 seconds, and that is with a lot of help and support from someone else, so technically I am doing half the work. I constantly think to myself, How did I let it get this bad? I would tell myself that I am done, that this is what is going to kill me.

Until one day, I was down in physical therapy and we decided to play a song to help me get through the excruciating pain that struck my legs. We played “Fight Song.” I instantly started crying while I was trying to stand. Tears of joy. It motivated me greatly. I carefully listened to the words and knew they applied exactly to my situation. I kept telling myself I will get better, I will be able to stand again and dance. I will conquer this eating disorder and depression and anxiety.

You see, my dream is to help people through music like music has helped me. I actually do sing — would I give anything to get to sing with you. I think people need to also see the reality of eating disorders — they are not glamorous, they are deadly diseases, tormenting and affecting you both mentally and physically. I call it cancer of the mind. I have tried to kill myself five times because I thought it was the only way out of this demon. But I thought you should know that “Fight Song” really helps. I also looked into the background of why you wrote it, and I resonate completely. I want to make it in the music industry as well. My dream is to help people through music like it has helped me.

I doubt you will get to read this, but I pray you will. You deserve to know your song is helping people of all struggles and challenges.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share a powerful moment you or a loved one has had with a public figure. Or, write a letter to a public figure who you feel has helped you or a loved one through his or her work. 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.

Lead photo credit: YouTube user madbadhadsad screenshot

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