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To Myself Before I Was Diagnosed With Anorexia

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I can see that life is hard. I know you are confused, lonely, isolated and have a severe hatred for your body. I know you struggle to get dressed every day because you think you look so bad in everything. I know you haven’t long turned 16. Yet, you still feel like you’re 8 years old and haven’t figured out the world yet.

I’m so sorry life hasn’t been easy, and I’m sad to tell you it will get so much more worse before it starts to get better. I don’t know how long it will take you to truly become happy. Even then, you won’t completely understand the world, but life does get better at times.

You cried so much the night before your 16th birthday because you were so afraid of getting older and becoming an adult. I’m sorry you had to feel this way. I’m sorry you cry yourself to sleep and damage yourself so much in order to feel something other than darkness.

In a couple of weeks, you’ll have to fight so hard. Harder than you’ve ever fought before. Harder than you can imagine right now. I know you don’t see you have a problem, and you think anorexia is making your life so perfect. How wrong you are.

In a couple of weeks, the college tutors, who you’ve grown to disagree with, will sit you down and explain they’ve noticed a problem. They’ll tell you how others have voiced their concerns about your eating habits and how much weight you’ve lost. You’ll plead, cry and have a panic attack when they start to call your family.

When they tell you they think you have an eating disorder, you won’t be shocked. You secretly knew this all along, didn’t you? Yet, all you could do was push it back because restriction and addiction were the only things keeping you happy. I’m so sorry that sitting in that room with so many people against you will bring you immense pain. I wish you didn’t have to go through that, but you will.

When the doctor tells you that you have an eating disorder but that you could “still lose a few pounds” to meet diagnosis, all thoughts of recovery will disappear. You’ll feel defeated, drained and not good enough. You’ll become immensely motivated to stop eating all together, even drinking, and you will go straight home to exercise.

Please, don’t be unmotivated when one person throws you off. There will be people in your recovery way better than that doctor. Please, remember the extreme restrictions and excessive exercising will kill you if you continue. You’ll come so close to death before things even turn around. Also, remember water doesn’t have calories and won’t make you fat. You’ll believe that a couple of times during recovery, but it’s not true — I promise.

Don’t be discouraged. Recovery won’t happen overnight. You’ll relapse a couple of times and refuse to lose Ana’s mindset. You’ll become depressed and severely suicidal. You’ll go on medication and then come off of it. You’ll meet friends and lose friends. People will be judgmental. Life won’t be kind to you. You’ll struggle more than succeed, but you’ll make it each day simply by breathing.

When you start to recover, you’ll realize God put you through this struggle so you can reach out to others. Your anorexia will bring you to meet new people who understand you. You’ll become an advocate for mental health and those you love.

Heck, you’ll even write a book or two! You’ll try so hard to get your voice heard. You will impact so many people by doing so. Use your struggles to plough ahead and reach out to others.

Your life and happiness is not centered on how thin you are. I hope you remember that as you grow and life changes. I hope you learn to honestly express your emotions some day, but, for now, please breathe.

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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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: November 29, 2016
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