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Mourning the Year I Lost to My Eating Disorder

When the clock strikes 12 and it is officially the New Year, I have a little tradition. I take down my old calendar, get the new one up and prepare to switch out my day planner. Every year, I flip through my calendar and planner to take note of what happened throughout the year.

This year, however, I was surprised at what I found. All I wrote down in my calendar and planner were holidays, birthdays, workouts and pounds lost. That’s all I celebrated. I didn’t care about anything else. Losing weight and increasing the number of calories burnt during exercise were the only things that got me excited and made me feel proud. I distinctly remember the elation I felt when the scale dropped below a certain number and how I wanted to share the news with everyone.

That was 2016. I had become consumed by my eating disorder. Yet, instead of yo-yo dieting or eating my emotions and subjectively binging, I was living for restriction. I was the same girl who five years ago decided life didn’t start until she was X lbs and X sit-ups a day was the only way to make up for eating anything at all.

I barely have any memories of 2016. I can remember feeling so hungry while sitting in class, but I could not tell you what was being discussed. I can remember being almost nauseated with the dessert I had for my birthday but not the actual celebration. I can remember working myself to exhaustion at the gym and starving after, but I cannot remember what was going on in my family’s lives at the time.

Every memory and every triumph is exercise or food-related. I didn’t eat that or I managed to workout even though I felt terrible. No time for professional or interpersonal development.

For many, 2016 was “the worst.” For me, it was a time where I wanted so desperately to feel nothing, but looking at the many Facebook feeds recapping the year, I do feel. I feel for all the missed opportunities (including Starbucks peppermint mochas), the isolation, the false sense of control, the time wasted weighing and body checking, the self-loathing, the tortured relationship with my own body, the desperation and anxiety when I gained even a pound.

I am in mourning.

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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