What Got Me Through the Hardest Days in 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.
I would assume most of you don’t think much about sitting in a chair. You might notice if the chair is particularly creaky. Or wobbly. In general, I think it’s safe to say, most of us just sit in a chair without conscious thought. I would assume the same thing about walking to class. Or walking to and from your car.
I used to be like that too.
I remember distinctly when the feeling of sitting in a chair became very noticeable. Taking my seat at the table, my tail bone was the first thing to touch the chair, followed by my sit bones which dug into the wood. My body was hollow. My bones brittle. This became the norm for me.
I remember parking my car in the garage at the community college I was attending for my first day of classes. It was a cold winter day. Walking the short distance from my car to class, I became very conscious of each step. I could feel the space between my bony thighs as I took each step and walking made my legs feel like stilts. My attention narrowed in on the slow, weak beat of my heart. The area around my ribcage felt hollow. I wasn’t sure if I would make it to class.
I was taking a biology class with the same teacher I’d had the previous semester. I walked into class. My skin was gray. My eyes were indents in my skeletal face. I greeted my professor.
I don’t remember her reaction. My classmates – some of whom I’d had the previous semester – never mentioned anything about me looking deathly, for which I am very grateful. Class began, class ended. I drove home that night, feeling very accomplished – and relieved – that I’d made it back. I scrambled over to the fireplace to warm up. Sitting with my arms wrapped around my knees, I could feel my tailbone grinding into the tile.
This was my life for four months.
Every day a struggle.
Every day a threat.
Weaker each moment.
Colder each day.
It was as though I was killing myself without any ability to do anything about it. Developing anorexia had come over me so fast, it’s as though I woke up one day, brittle and deformed. The accelerated speed of my complete life turnover added to the intensity and feeling of having been invaded. What had happened to me?
I did not starve myself and develop anorexia because I thought I was fat. It is not something I chose, either. However, I do believe there is a common denominator between all eating disorders, addictions and unhealthy habits. These symptoms are telling us that some unaddressed issue needs to be brought into the light.
But shame does not like light.
Shame is suffocating. And shame became a very close friend of mine during this time. I was utterly disgusted with what had happened to my body. My social life reduced to being non-existent. My home became the hospitalization that the doctors threatened; and I became invisible to the world.
After four months of my body struggling to live, by sheer will power, I decided to eat again. Each spoonful of cereal was swallowed with tears and torture. Although my dangerously low body weight only lasted four months, I entered into a bottomless bout of debilitating depression that lasted the following four years.
I had become someone I was completely not. I had come too close to touching the last breath of death that I didn’t know how to live; although I was breathing, something inside me had died.
As much of a toll anorexia took on me physically, it was my inner-spirit that starved the most. My body merely wore the truth. Recovering was an uphill battle. Rising each day was an act of faith and often felt like a shot in the dark. But I refused to give up.
The desire and belief that I could use my struggle to help others became my strength. Recovering was no longer only about me, but for everyone else I wanted to impact one day. I would turn my pain into purpose.
We don’t always see a glimmer of light to guide the path. Our journey can feel like an endless valley. But if I could go back to the 17-year-old girl who laid weak and alone and tell her one thing, it would be this: Your struggle, dear one, will become your strength. You will not be overcome.
Dear reader, I do not know what has brought you to my writing or how our paths crossed, but I pray and hope that whatever burdens you, grieves you, sorrows you; whatever it is that is still left unhealed… that you know this: inside each of us is a limitless resilience. Struggling merely invites us to access that inner strength.
Follow this journey on Serenity Soul Blog.
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