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I Don't Know How to Live Without My Eating Disorder

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Today’s my birthday. I’m 23. I’m 23 years old and I feel as if I haven’t lived a day.

I just ate my first bag of doritos. I’ve never had them before. I had always told the people around me I just didn’t like them and I got away with never eating them or having to try them. It’s little things like this that make me feel like I’ve never lived. I’m 23 years old and up until this point, I have never lived without my eating disorder. I have never been able to fully experience life around me.

For the last three to four years, my entire life has been completely consumed by my eating disorder. Everything has been about my health. I have dropped out of school twice; I’ve lost the majority of my friends; I haven’t been allowed to work; I’m spending thousands of dollars on therapy I can’t afford; I have spent more time in hospitals than with my own family; and it’s exhausting. Prior to my diagnosis, I was in a horrible cycle of binging and restricting, and I believed everything I was doing was normal. To me, it was normal to weigh myself every night and never eat breakfast even as a young kid. I remember being 4 years old and refusing to eat dinner or any other meals, instead opting to binge on foods like popcorn, Oreos and Coffee Crisp.

I’m tired. I’m so god damn tired of hating myself and blaming myself for not being perfect. I just want one year of my life free of my eating disorder. I just want to experience what life is really like. My eating disorder has been in my life for as long as I can remember and unfortunately, it’s all I know. I only know anorexia. I only know hunger. I only know the calories of the blueberry bagel with butter I had for breakfast and how to lie my way out of a meal. I don’t know what it’s like to get up, have breakfast and just continue on with my day. I don’t know how to feed myself three meals and three snacks every day. I barely know how to live outside hospital walls. I genuinely don’t know how to live without my eating disorder.

I miss having a purpose. I mean, recovering from anorexia is a purpose, but I wake up in the morning and I don’t have anything motivating me to get out of bed except myself (and I’m not very motivating). It’s really hard to make yourself your main goal when you really don’t like yourself.

I’m learning how to live. I’m transitioning out of Intensive Care and I’m learning what life without an eating disorder could look like. I’ve learned that choosing recovery is choosing to live — every day — because there is no life with an eating disorder. One of the doctors told me that if I kept going the way I was, I would go into cardiac arrest. If I kept going, it wasn’t a blade or a pill that would kill me — my heart wouldn’t be able to keep up with my body. In doing more research, I’ve found that restriction at any weight or size puts strain on one’s heart and makes the risk of cardiac arrest higher. I had to make the choice to live to get treatment for my mental health and I have to continue making that choice every single day. I have to make the choice to wake up, get out of bed and eat every single day because I don’t want to die. I don’t want my mom waking me up in the middle of the night just to make sure I’m still alive; I don’t want my friends and family to cry when they hug me; and I don’t want to live the way I have lived for the past 22 years.

I’m not waiting any longer — my life starts today. I’m finally at a healthy weight and have managed to remain stable through my transition. Yes, I’m still focusing on my eating disorder every day and I’m focusing on it in a very different way. I’m not recovered by any means, but I’m proud to say I’m in recovery. I’m even going back to work — I’ve dreamed about working ever since my doctor forced me to stop working. I’m doing things now that I didn’t think were possible.

I’m doing things I never thought were possible.

Today’s my birthday. I’m 23. I’m 23 years old and today is the first day of the rest of my life.

This story originally appeared on HAUS of HAIRROR.

Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

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