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Dear Eating Disorder, We Need to Talk About What You've Done to Me

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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.

Dear Mental Illness,

To be honest with you I do not know how to start this letter. I could start by saying that when we first met, I thought of you as a friend — a friend that I have felt like I have known for a very long time. I feel like you have been there all along, living inside my head. I used to be kind towards you and always listened and obeyed your demands, but now I think it’s my turn to tell you exactly how I feel about you…

When you show up I do not always feel sad or want to cry; sometimes I cannot feel anything. I can wake up and feel able to cope, and then 12 p.m. rolls around and I feel like being trapped in a deep sunken hole in the ground would be the best choice for me. Usually when I have those days, nothing happens to make me feel this obnoxious — you just simply decide to once again invite yourself inside my head unannounced.

You have made me attempt to vanish myself from this world many times; fortunately to my benefit you have not succeeded yet. You scream at me and get louder and louder with every word. You pretend to be multiple different people at times and deliberately confuse and distress me. You threaten me and shout through my ears to the extent that I become deaf to the real world that I am surrounded by.

How can I possibly relate to you as a friend when you convince me I am worthless, useless, an embarrassment, a disappointment and a failure. You stole my confidence from me and that’s when you started to take control. You made me too weak to fight against you. But that is OK, because I have a huge parcel of confidence camouflaged inside me somewhere and I am not going to let you stop me from finding it. For a long time, I refused to accept your existence and sometimes I still do. I owe some of my darkest moments to you. I have spent countless nights crying myself to sleep, because you would not stop bellowing at me. Trying to admit to the people I love that you were present was the hardest thing I have ever done. You made me feel scared about what they would say; you made me feel like it was all my fault that you came into my life, as though I had willingly invited you. There are times when I struggle to interpret the difference between my true self and the person I am when you control me again. You utterly terrify me.

One day, you told me to stop eating lunch and I listened. A few weeks later you also made me stop eating breakfast. Finally you “succeeded” in your goal; you made me loose kilogram after kilogram and I hardly ate anything because you were the most selfish and demanding thing I have ever met. I tried to stop you before you abused your authority even more, but every time I tried to ignore your consistent commands, you would roar back at me with another repetitive excuse. Listening to you and naively believing your lies was the worst thing for me. You make me hate myself. You make me feel guilty. You make me stick my fingers down my throat. You have wasted a whole year of my life that I should have been allowed to enjoy. You have made me lose people I care enormously about. You have pulled apart my family and shattered us into pieces. You told me everything would be OK if I continued to stay with you, that I would be happy. You told me my worth was dependent by the number displayed on the scale, that my worth was measured by the amount of calories consumed and made me feel as if I was committing a sin by carrying out a normal human function.

While you sat there and called me fat and disgraceful, I foolishly believed that you were the only one who cared about me, that by following your stupidly strict rules I would end up being untroubled. Yes, I lost weight, but I also lost a lot more. I lost clumps of hair every day, I lost my energy, I lost my determination, my sense of reality, my education, the ability to be able to focus and concentrate. I lost friends and I lost the real Megan. You led me on a path of destruction that left me alone and confused. Your goal was for me to be dead and you encouraged me more and more every day to continue on this path. You have had me admitted to hospital three times in one month because you had made me so weak that you knew you were getting closer and closer to winning the battle between us.

Please explain to me why I should still call you my friend and why I should keep you in my life? You fed me lies instead of the food I really needed. Because of you I was almost detained under the Mental Health Act and was forced to visit a psychiatric hospital.

Due to you I have scars all over my body that may never completely fade. Most of the time you were like an unwanted shadow, but I am finding it hugely strenuous to let you go because you have made me addicted to the pain that you give me. You persist to lie to me, telling me that by listening to you I will be able to control my emotions that I just can’t handle. But all you have done by lying to me was lead me into a whirlpool of unmanageable guilt, frustration and self-hatred.

At the moment I must admit that I am still greatly consumed by you. Because I’m too scared to shout back at you in person, this is why I am writing this letter. One day, I will leave you and then you will have no one and therefore you can’t exist. Then you will finally experience what it feels like to have to live with yourself.

Dear Mental Illness,

Enjoy your last moments of making my life a living hell, because you’re not going to have Megan for much longer.

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 lolostock

Originally published: March 1, 2017
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