To the Girl Who Was Stolen By Anorexia
The first time I met you, you proudly told me your BMI with the same zest someone would brag about her improved credit score or flashy zip code. It represented a source of pride; at that point, it also represented a source of identity. You were your BMI, and your BMI was you. You wanted to protect it like a small child who needed love and affection.
First, anorexia stole your spirit — that’s what your family told me, as they tearfully talked about your childhood. Anorexia stole the little girl who had so much love to give. It stole the daughter and sister they thought they knew — the one who loved daffodils and cappuccinos, Disneyland and expensive eyeshadow palettes.
Then, anorexia stole your sanity and values. It wasn’t just the starvation at that point; you flirted with drugs and toxic friendship; you found solace in rebellion rather than academics and extracurricular activities. You were suicidal and glamorized it. Someone had once told you that pretty girls don’t like themselves, and you started living as if someone had branded that off-handed comment with a tattoo gun.
Anorexia stole your mental health, but maybe your mental health stole anorexia first.
Anorexia stole your laughter and innocence. It replaced it with obsession, control, perfectionism and compulsion. Every calorie in, every calorie out. That became the only way you measured success and happiness. Calories weren’t even just nuances; they were sheer enemies; you developed a paranoia around them. You had a fear that they would consume you whole if you weren’t consistently on guard.
Remember when anorexia stole your health and, for a moment, your heartbeat? When it landed you in and out of inpatient treatment centers and hospitals? When it spotlighted you in front of different doctors and dietitians and therapists such as myself?
Remember the clarity you once experienced when you realized how much anorexia had taken from you? How much it had destroyed every parcel of your life?
I remember when you told me you were upset that there wasn’t a magic eraser or cure. I wish there was — for you and for every other person visibly (and invisibly) struggling. I wish anorexia could stop stealing innocent lives without remorse or consequences.
Anorexia stole your adolescence and your early adulthood. It stole those exciting, fundamental relationships, the ones where you first start feeling different hormones and stay up all night wondering if he’s going to call you back. It stole the way you happily go shopping for clothes with friends, trying on different shirts and dresses, comparing and laughing and eating soft pretzels in between stores. It stole your athleticism — and I remember how much you loved to run and dance and swim — when those activities represented so much more than how many pounds you could lose by doing this to your body with rote movement?
Anorexia stole so much from you, and you’re finally ready to start taking some of those lost items back. I can see it in your vigor and your willingness. I can see it in the tears that you’ve finally allowed yourself to release and the words you’ve let yourself reveal.
Let’s take it all back together. Piece by piece, moment by moment — let’s destroy this thing that almost destroyed you.
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Getty image via Victor_Tongdee