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Today I Decided to Give Up on My Eating Disorder

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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 741741.

They say in treatment, “Your worst day in recovery is better than your worst day in your eating disorder.”

This year, I wasn’t sure that was true. Things were supposed to be looking up after the isolation and terror of 2020. I was healing from a year and a half battle with gastroparesis, a gastrointestinal disease with no set cure. I had a surgical feeding tube placed and was stuck on a feeding pump since 2019. I had been unable to work because of my struggles with this disease as well as fighting anorexia for over 16 years.

I was hoping 2021 would come as a light, a relief. All year I looked forward to a planned vacation with my family. I was only about two weeks away from having my tube taken out because of the effectiveness of a new medication I was on. For some reason, at my favorite place in the entire world, the Outer Banks, my mind was entirely captivated with thoughts about how much I hated my body and how badly I wanted to change it. I ate in front of everyone but wept five times a day. I was so deeply depressed and could not remember a time I had wanted to end things so badly. I couldn’t wait until I got home and I could go back to the comfort of my eating disordered behaviors, which I was sure would take away this distress.

Instead, I created a new, secret kind of hell. I saw my gastroenterologist, had my tube taken out, a hoped for a new kind of freedom. Unfortunately, it was a disordered, fake type of freedom. I told myself I didn’t need all those extra calories anymore. I started cutting back my meals as much as I could. I watched the number on the scale go down. I felt the euphoria of having a goal I could accomplish and successfully hiding it from everyone. For the hundredth time, I did these things and I didn’t think about the consequences.

Then I had my new rock bottom moment.

It was a normal night. I tried to lay down to sleep. It had been four weeks of engaging in extremely dangerous eating disorder behaviors, and I thought I had things under control. All of the sudden my heart started to race. I walked around my bedroom, the room spinning, and I tried to tell myself to breathe. I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet and lights were flashing in front of my eyes. I wanted to break down and tell my partner everything I had been doing, but I couldn’t. She tried to soothe me on the bathroom floor, distracting me and telling me to breathe. After experiencing chest pain and palpitations for hours my body gave in and I slept for a couple of hours. I vowed I would nourish myself the next day. My body had never deteriorated so quickly.

Thinking I could just reverse weeks of behaviors in one day, I ate and drank everything I was supposed to. I still struggled several more days with intense, terrible nighttime attacks of heart palpitations and insomnia. I thought living in my body was bad, but almost dying was worse.

Today, I decided to give up on my eating disorder.

I no longer want to teeter on the edge of life and death, hiding myself in the shadows, and losing my passions. I don’t want to live another sleepless night, I don’t want to cry at my reflection. I don’t want to lie to my therapist and dietitian and family. I want to leave the eating disorder so far behind me that I no longer recognize my own brain. I decided that I’ve lived through enough torture, and settling for a body somewhat outside of my expectations or society’s expectations cannot be as bad as death. I finally realized I cannot do both.

Today, I chose life. And I will tomorrow, too.

Getty image by CCeliaPhoto

Originally published: November 5, 2021
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