I Am Loved and I Am Special and I Am Perfect, Exactly as I Am
I didn’t write this to see how many likes I can get or how many comments people write. I thought that was what I wanted, but it’s not. What I want is to speak to those who can’t yet speak for themselves. To those still trapped in their eating disorders, I say this now: I have no answers. I offer no intentionally wise words of advice. I’m just one person with an iPad, someone who looks back on his life and realizes he still has something to say.
You see, there is no metric for pain. You can’t compare it. My pain isn’t better or worse than your pain. All we know is our pain hurts. And for some of us it seems like the pain just won’t go away no matter what we do. We go to the best hospitals and we see the best doctors and eventually the eating disorder comes back. And it frustrates us more than anything else in the world because we honestly do want to get better.
I know for me, when I was little and the pain didn’t stop coming, all I knew was pain. I knew to expect hurt. I knew to expect rejection. And when I became anorexic during middle school, I took that anger and pain out on myself because it didn’t do any good taking it out on anyone else. Not eating felt good. The pain of hunger felt good. Hurting myself felt right because I honestly believed I deserved to hurt. At 12 years old.
High school came along, and I started obsessing about suicide. That began a very long period of thinking about only myself. I couldn’t think about others. If they were in pain, their pain was irrelevant because I hurt so badly. I destroyed my body… but I did not die.
During my deepest moments of despair, I would think at least I have my eating disorder to lean on, to kill me, to end the pain. But for most people with EDs, the truth is this: you don’t die right away. That can take decades. And that is a lot of pain in the meantime. Many people do die. I’ve lost quite a few friends due to their eating disorder.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
Often, we frustrate our supports to the point of them deserting us. We lose our friends. All of them. We can lose our family. We can lose our jobs, our financial supports… our homes. We end up in nursing homes and state hospitals for five, 10 or even 20 years or more. When you’re young you often have supports (use them!), but once you turn 18, many of those supports go away. Programs, therapists, dietitians, even doctors who will treat you because of your condition… that can become more complex when you become an adult. And the resources become scarce. I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because it’s true.
I know you’re in pain. I can’t imagine the pain you’re in. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry the world has let you down. But you have to fight. Because life with an eating disorder… that’s not living. Starving your brain can prevent you from achieving what you want to achieve.
You have to fight. Because people need you to fight. People need me to fight (and trust me, I don’t always feel like fighting). I know it’s terrifying, and the loss of power is infuriating. I know. But you still have to fight with me. Because the stakes are too high.
You have no reason to trust me or to put any faith of any kind in me, but I’m going to ask you to trust me anyway. You don’t want that. You want to know what true power looks like? True power is having every excuse in the world to starve yourself and choosing to eat anyway. True power is fighting through the tears and taking one bite, and then the next. It is saying, “It is good that I am here. I am loved and I am special. And I am perfect, exactly as I am.” From one survivor to another: I love you. Please fight. For me. For you.
Image via Thinkstock.