Recently, it has been extremely difficult to sit down and write. My mind has been a scrambled mess, and I have avoiding it too much to try and make sense of it all.
Anorexia will do that to you.
From August of 2015 to March of 2016, I have spent countless hours in meetings with six different therapists, five different dieticians and three different psychiatrists, expressing to them all how “I want to get better, but I just can’t.” (I’m sure many can relate to this illogical thought.)
I have spent too many meals watching frightened, anxious women become hysterical because there were a few extra almonds on their plate or because the spaghetti touched the meatballs. I have seen women as young as 13 and as old as 45 crying into their bowls of Raisin Bran cereal at 8 a.m. because they have been telling themselves how “fat,” “disgusting” and “worthless” they have been since age 6.
I have watched as hundreds of Ensures have been chugged, and I have watched as hundreds of Ensures were wasted and thrown into the trash. I have witnessed girls hide food in every way imaginable and through any means possible, regardless of its rationality or effectiveness.
I have seen enough panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) flashbacks to know which ones are real. I have seen more temper tantrums from adults than I have from children. I have watched as grown, educated, working women shatter to pieces on the floor, only to recharge and pick themselves up for the third time that day.
I have seen the internal struggle of low self-esteem, body hatred and self-dissatisfaction manifest itself in cuts and cigarette burns on the bodies of highly intelligent and talented individuals. I have watched women leave treatment, only to return three weeks later sicker than they were. I have seen the hands of individuals from every different color, body weight and shape and age shoot up into the air when asked, “Who here feels they are the fattest one in the room?”
I have seen all of these women, and they have seen me, because I too am one of them. I too have frantically counted and separated the food on my plate. I too have cried tears directly into my cereal bowl (not once, not twice but seven times). I have stared at, thrown away and drank enough Ensure for anyone’s lifetime. I have catapulted, smashed, crumbled and hidden food.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
I have found myself broken down in the fetal position on cold hospital floors screaming and crying out for mercy. I am the expert of panic attacks. I have entered treatment facilities with old scars on my thighs and have left with new ones on my arms. I too have been in and out of treatment for the past five years.
Just like all of the others, my brain screams at me that I am always the fattest one in the room. I did not ask for this. I did not choose this. None of us who struggle from any eating disorder or mental illness do. However, what we can ask for and what we can choose, is help.
Sitting here at my kitchen table, staring into my half-empty mug of black coffee, I find myself stuck. As I playback the last 10 months over and over again in my head, it’s difficult for me to sit with this overwhelming feeling that not much has changed within me at all. All of the therapy, all of the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups haven’t been enough. All of the drama, the tears, the weight gains and the weight drops, fights with insurance companies and financial burden on my family hasn’t appeared to be worth it.
August of 2015 to March of 2016, and I am still struggling. I am still sick.
Those closest to me have grown tired and frustrated with my illness and my constant struggle. What they fail to understand is no one is more tired and more frustrated than I am. Some have been ignorant enough to tell me I don’t want to get better because if I wanted it, I’d do it. Others have said, “You’re not ready to change.”
I don’t take offense to these silly accusations and criticisms, as much as they do irritate me. Ironically, those closest to me have never actually seen me when I am most vulnerable. You know, lying awake at 3 a.m. crying because I’m either too full or too empty, body in agonizing pain from numerous injuries caused by over-exercising, begging and pleading with myself to do better tomorrow.
Want and readiness have absolutely nothing to do with recovery from an eating disorder. If you are waiting for yourself or a loved one to show signs of readiness, I’m sorry to say this, but you or that loved one will die waiting. Please, hear me when I say this. I will never 100 percent want to give up my eating disorder, nor will I ever be 100 percent ready. I am, however, willing.
I am willing to ask for and accept help. I am willing to endure every uncomfortable feeling and obstacle I will be sure to face in surrendering myself to treatment yet again. I am willing to try and accept myself as I am. I am willing to heal.
I don’t know just yet the exact steps I will take toward relinquishing my eating disorder. Writing this was first on my list. Second, will be getting through breakfast. If that’s all I accomplish today, that will be enough.
Do I want to go through the painful and debilitating process that is recovery? No. When the things I have disclosed are of just some of the battles we must all endure during the process, can you really blame me? Will I do it regardless? Yes. I will do it because if I stop fighting the eating disorder, I stop fighting for my life.
Someone once told me I am worth fighting for, and I was smart enough to believe her. My mind has been a scrambled mess, lately. Anorexia will do that to you. Yet, I am not anorexia. I am not my illness, no matter how clouded and crazed it makes me feel.
I will say it again: I am willing to heal, and change cannot come soon enough. My name is Jessica and this is where I stand.
Image via Thinkstock.
This post originally appeared on This Is Where I Stand.
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