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Dear Anorexia: It's Time to Find Myself Again

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Dear Anorexia,

It feels strange to address you in such formal terms — after all, we are old friends. You have been there for me when nobody else has, made me strive for perfection and filled me with a sense of purpose. Because of you, I was able to cope when the turmoil became too much, numbing emotion and rejection with your watchful guidance. Only — you didn’t stop there. Your grasp tightened, my view narrowed. You became my dictator rather than a friend, dominating every single aspect of my life. For seven years, I have been rooted in this stagnant cycle of lies — a bony, bereft existence, caught in your gnarled grasp and brainwashed into your warped way of thinking. You made me lie to the people I love, isolate myself until friends drifted away, leaving me with only you to turn to for comfort. You stripped me of all self-worth, confidence, ambition and prospect. Turned my dreams into wild fantasies and ruined endless opportunities.

I can count on one hand: sobbing soliloquies written in hospital journals, medical reports filed in dog-eared folders, mundane moments spaced between bone caged crumbs. Stuck in a child’s body with deteriorating osteoporosis, denied of womanhood and the chance of ever starting my own family. You made me think I was special. Uttering convincing words, encouraging notions of restraint and sophistication — but there is nothing superior about self starvation. The agonizing pain of hunger that tears through you at night, the hollow eye sockets and throbbing head — all prototypes of the same sick game. You left me blinded, desensitized, weak. Even death didn’t fill me with fear, I saw it as a strange sense of accomplishment. No, I didn’t want to die, but you made me not want to live.

Seven empty years. Insipid days that dripped into each other, robbed of an adolescence. I missed out on drunken parties, next morning regrets, messy girls’ holidays, breakup dramas. None of that even registered as important when the only thing that mattered was watching the number drip lower and lower whilst fooling everyone around me. Instead, I smoked cigarettes as appetite suppressants, drank mugs of black coffee and sat alone in clinic waiting rooms whilst the world went by. Caught between two realms: seeking the quiet majesty of living without fear but too terrified to break the cycle I had grown accustomed to. You landed me in hospital, made me spend the supposedly best summer of my life crying in hallways and downing bottles of sickly supplement in a frantic attempt to escape. I met other tortured ghosts who scuttled through the days with adverted gaze, yearning for the same sunken skulls and porcelain clean skin. You made me lie my way out, fooled me into thinking I wasn’t sick enough, not deserved enough to get help.

But now I see the blunt reality, the truth you sheltered me from for so long. There is no end goal, no golden promise. You will never make me happy. Whilst I am still stuck in your twisted clutches, I can’t live the life I so desperately want to live. I refuse to let you take any more of my years. I will no longer let you dictate where I go, who I see, what I do and what I eat. I won’t let you ruin university just as you tarnished the rest of my education. I am more than you. I’m also a girl who drinks her cappuccino froth with a spoon. I write poetry in hardback journals. I love to bake. I adore everything Parisian. I’m passionate about veganism and animal rights. I play the Les Mis soundtrack more than I care to admit. I like to read about wildflowers. I’m fascinated by history. I’m a feminist. I’m a daughter.

I want to live in the grey area. After years of darting between white and black; starvation and depression, extreme highs and excruciating lows, I want to settle in the hazy middle ground. I want to cry and laugh in the same breath, to eat fruit and chips in the same day, to go to bed at 4 a.m. but still get up early and eat breakfast. I want a life without you in it. So anorexia, you can take your twisted rules, your pathetic demands, your skewed lies — you are no longer welcome. It’s time to try something different. It’s time to find myself again.

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.

Follow this journey on Archives of Autumn.

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Lead image provided by contributor

Originally published: July 3, 2017
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