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What I Want to Tell the Friends Who Helped Me Through Eating Disorder Recovery

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.

You’re the reason I’m alive.

Just under a year ago, I was slowly dying. I was coming closer and closer to death every day and hiding it. You noticed.

You pursued my friendship and built trust with me. You let me know I could tell you anything. You listened. You told me you were going to help me. You told me you weren’t going to let me lose this, no matter how badly I wanted to lose. At the time, I didn’t show you much appreciation. I pushed you away. I avoided you. But now I’m alive to tell you thank you.

To the friend who always tries to understand:

When I finally opened up to you, you listened and you told me you were proud of me already. You asked me questions about how my eating disorder worked and why I sometimes feel the way I do. It wasn’t in a way that was insensitive or uncomfortable, but in a way that showed you cared. It showed you want to know me so that you can help me and be the most supportive friend you can be. You made me feel loved and like you truly wanted to help me.

The friend who sat with me as I made my first phone call for help:

You forced me to take the first baby step. You helped me accomplish the first step necessary to get my life back. Because of that call you helped me make, I began the long, hard, and life-giving journey of treatment through The Emily Program. You saved my life, too.

And now I’m alive to tell you thank you.

To the friend who wants to help other people because of me:

You listened to my teary rants about the awful doctors and nurses and peers who didn’t understand. You told me with the most appalled, lit-up eyes that you wanted to become a doctor who understands these issues and is sensitive and respectful toward them. You have no idea how much joy and hope and purpose that gives me.

To the friend who didn’t give me a choice:

If I didn’t put enough on my plate to meet my meal plan, you hugged me and asked if I wanted to try some peanut butter on my bagel. I normally said, “No.” So you made us both peanut butter bagels and ate with me. I often became frustrated and annoyed when you did this, but now I’m here to tell you — you kept me alive for another day each time you did that.

Now I’m alive to tell you, thank you.

To the friends I called when I was having a panic attack or urges to hurt myself.

The friend who told me to go to the ER when I thought I’d be fine.

The friend who saw I was struggling and simply placed your hand on my shoulder to let me know I wasn’t alone.

To the friend who came to my room and got me out of bed so we could go eat breakfast.

The friends who came to support nights at treatment so you could learn how to help me.

To the friends who celebrated with me every time I had a small recovery victory or stepped down in treatment.

The friends who persisted when I avoided you, got upset with you and told you I didn’t need your help.

The friends who never gave up on me — not even once.

And the friends who, to this day, look out for me, hold me accountable, who genuinely ask me how I’m doing and support me to no end — thank you.

Thank you.

You saved my life.

You’re the reason I choose life every morning.

And now I’m alive to tell you: thank you.

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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Thinkstock photo via Astarot