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When I Realized My Anorexia 'Fantasy' Was Actually a Nightmare

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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.

For the longest time, I lived in a fairytale of my own illness — a romanticized version of the monster that was slowly suffocating my being. Anorexia was a “dream world” of dainty limbs and protruding bones. It was small wrists and prominent collar bones. In my disordered thinking, it was where flowers grew out from graveyard bodies — skeletal shells of once-humans painted with fake smiles and concealer. It was carefully counted almonds and delicately sliced bananas. It was feeling great “power,” yet also a vulnerability — a fragile-ness — that felt too much like comfort. Water tasted like lemonade and an empty stomach felt like nourishment. When doctors said “underweight,” the little voices in my head cheered, “success!” Shrinking felt like bliss and I began to worship the feeling of hollow.

I slowly became a shell. Not a shell that flowers blossomed from, like the kind I had fanaticized about. But instead, a sad, broken shell with brittle hair and cold hands. My fairytale became gloomy. It was no longer filled with delicate bones that presented themselves like trophies and dainty limbs that moved with grace. It was blacked out vision and feeling dizzy when standing up. It was watching my family eat dinner, but listening to the monsters remind me I had already consumed all the food I was allowed for the day. It was seeing myself in the mirror and deciding not to eat lunch or dinner. It was spending the holidays in the hospital and crying myself to sleep. It was not being able to lie on my side because it hurt my bones. It was running until my body was numb to burn off the calories. It was running on empty. I was empty. A vacuum of all signs of life and happiness. The dream world I had been living in transformed into a nightmare. The little voices that once felt like my companions became loud, screaming monsters that kept me hostage in my own mind. “You’ll be happy,” they said.

Numbers and more pounds and calories and numbers and numbers and nothing. The voices only got louder and I only became weaker. Suddenly, I felt like a pile of bones and tears. I realized it never was a fairytale. The monsters were always there. They had only disguised themselves as bringers of joy — as companions to my loneliness. Anorexia is not a dream world. And there are no flowers 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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Thinkstock photo via Suto Norbert.

Originally published: June 20, 2017
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