I Keep Choosing Life: A Poem on Recovery from Anorexia


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Written on the ward of an eating disorders unit, this poem is a snapshot of the heartbreak and struggle that goes into every choice and decision I make, many of which mask unseen battles. I chose life when I started fighting my eating disorder because my eating disorder was a death sentence. It was cruel, ruthless and unrelenting: it was not my choice. I continue to choose life with every single mouthful — and the hours of thought, doubt and uncertainty that claw either side of what is essentially a basic human need — because life with an eating disorder is not living and it never will be. I choose life because, as one truly wonderful nurse reminded me one particularly tricky Tuesday afternoon, I want to have a life worth living.

I Keep Choosing Life

I chose life
Whilst breathing close-naïve-pain-heavy hospital air,
With feet clamped still
And tear stained cheeks,
With tissue-clenching fists
And red raw knuckles.

I chose life
And clock-watched,
Number counted, crunched and crumbled.
I didn’t crumble.
Or drop, hide, scrape, squash, mash, mix, dunk…
I drank milky tea.

I chose life
Whilst holding all the colors
And making all the wishes, promises,
And grasping all the “cans,”
Whilst shaking all the “can’ts”
With running nose and dignity lost.

I chose life
With hugged knees
And stroked back
With could bes and could dos
With not dones and not was
With one days and one day.

I chose life
In long days
And no ways
And plenty and plenty of weighs
With silence and compliance
New rules, and no choice.

I chose life
In butterfly needles
And nested cocoons
In flightiness and bruising…
With precision and haste
With needs must and necessity.

I chose life
In uncertainty and I don’t knows,
With spinning head and busy mind
With I don’t knows and no, no lies,
And I’m sorrys and goodbyes
And thank you:

I chose life.
Because life was chosen for me,
Between hospital walls.
I chose life
Because life was mine to choose,
Six times a day and every second in between.

I’m still choosing:
I choose life in my vulnerability,
I choose life in my hope to live.

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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