What a Pillow Meant to Me in Eating Disorder Recovery


I am here but not there.

I have found myself, yet I am still searching.

Standing at the top, my eyes stare forward,

trembling to look down before I let myself plunge.

Falling beneath the black, deeper into a hole

that may never close.

The ditch is stable but its width fluctuates —

I can still fit.

I imagine a day where I outgrow the hole but maybe I don’t
want to.

Maybe the depth of its darkness is a place to hide.

I dig with weary hands and brittle bones until

the dirt consumes me.

Until my heartbeat stalls and my breath screams into the empty air.

Until I realize the only way out is to climb back up without searching

for a short-cut.

The hole has found its place in my chest, my eyes and my brain.

I will fill the hollow dwellings with my own light.

I walked into my bedroom at home last week with a new pillow added by my mother that read, “Joy is in the journey.” I did not think much of the cliché until I walked into an office the next day, where the same exact pillow sat on the couch. A center where I finally accepted treatment for an eating disorder – the very hole that has welcomed depression and anxiety into its darkness. I dug into the depth of the void and I found emptiness. My mind’s control is consuming and I cannot fix this on my own.

I constantly find signs where there may be no significance at all, but nonetheless, a simple pillow ignited a decision. “I need help” came in a soft and quivering voice, but I’ve never felt so strong. I am ready to breathe freely, to dismiss the overwhelming voices, to change my learned behaviors, to start living. Recovery will be a process and there is no satisfactory result. The journey itself holds purpose and the timeline to rebuild is continuous. A hole can leak and crack, maybe reopen, but closure does not determine progression.

Whatever the hole may be for you, if your mind had the power to form the hollow dwellings, you also have the strength to fill them – but you do not need to know how to do so on your own. There is no manual to healing, no concrete image of a fixed hole to follow as you read the instructions. Making the effort to begin is greater than the endpoint. No matter your pace, purely start — rid yourself of the pressure to reach your sense of perfection. Put down the guide and stop planning for success – if the “joy is in the journey,” then you’re already there.

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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Unsplash photo via Christelle Bourgeoisie

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