I always thought that an Eating Disorder was a very personal affair. It’s something that happens to you or by you and no one else is really involved. In fact, I think that’s one of the things that always drew me back to it. I could take what was hurting me and deal with it in a very quiet and internal way. Instead of crying or being angry when crappy things happened, I went further into myself, restricted a little more and told myself that it was best for everyone, that by doing this it meant that I didn’t hurt worry or hurt those that loved me. In the beginning you don’t realise how much this will hurt them even more. I know that it’s not easy watching the ones you love destroy themselves and feeling entirely powerless to change anything but that’s what I’ve been making everyone around me do for years. I thought I was suffering alone but I wasn’t. I have made others suffer too. I have left them living in that space where they are constantly waiting for the eventuality that I might not be here. I feel cruel when I think about it. I think we all want to think the Eating Disorder is only ours but it isn’t. It belongs to everyone who knows you because it continues to take parts of you away from them. It’s making them suffer the loss of parts of you daily and ultimately if you don’t recover, you make them have to grieve the actual loss of your life. Shouldn’t that be motivation enough to get better? Yes…it should, but it rarely is. Instead we have to find the motivation from somewhere else and for me that place is one of feeling utterly broken in mind and spirit. There is something oddly freeing when you are broken down like that. You begin to see that despite things being that bad, somehow you are still breathing and if that’s possible, then maybe other things are possible too.
I don’t know how this information is going to help me or if it even will. I guess more than anything I wanted to acknowledge that an Eating Disorder is not a disorder in which it only feeds on the host. It destroys everything that comes into contact with it. Mothers are hated, sisters resented, friends ignored…anybody that could give a crap becomes a threat and that is not ok if Anorexia wants to cling on to you. So if you do know someone who is struggling then please try to understand that it is not anything you have done or not done…it is this disease and its primary focus of isolating your loved one. Don’t give up on them, no matter how much they beg you to leave me them be, to not fight for them, don’t listen. When the day comes and they realise the brutality of their Eating Disorder and how much they want it gone, they will need you. They will need you to be stronger than you have ever been before because you are about to go head to head with a monster that is very capable of taking the life of your loved one if they were to let it.
In recovery it is so important to be able to reach out and to feel loved. I am reminded today that I am loved by friends who are being incredibly supportive right now. I am lucky. Despite all the bridges I have burnt there are people who have continued to rise up out of those ashes and still offer their hand in the hope that this time I will take it. I am trying to hold on that, to them.