Two years since I decided that I couldn’t live like that anymore.
Two years since I started facing one of the hardest parts of who I was.
Two bloody years.
I had gotten to a point in my eating disorder that I could no longer imagine my life without it. As if my ED had finally made itself a formal extension of me.
No, screw that.
Two years since I stopped letting my ED control my every movement, plan my schedules, and run my life.
But when I look back I’m not convinced I really wanted to change.
I mean, in all honesty, I’m just stubborn. I didn’t like the fact that I had succumb to thinking that I would always have my ED as part of who I was.
I didn’t like how restricting that was. I didn’t like how closed off that made my future or my present.
But did I really believe in changing?
No, not really.
But I was tired.
I was so freakin’ tired of the life that I had been living for more than a decade.
I was only 22. This shit had already taken 12 years of my life.
But – at the same time, I was USED to living that way.
I was USED to how I kept those demons at bay. Shit, I didn’t need to rehash old demons and try and tame those too.
I was used to the hunger, the exhaustion, the irritability, the never ending cold and the daily binges or purges and the limitless restrictions and the countless other ailments that come along with eating disorders.
But for every ounce of me that was used to my ED, every ounce of me was just tired of it.
For as much as I was used to being hungry, I was tired of never being able to eat.
For as much as I was used to being cold, I was tired of never being able to warm myself up.
For as much as I was used to fainting, I was tired of always being dizzy.
I was just tired.
And so, when I found myself thinking that this was how it was going to be – the day that I stopped believing my eating disorder would go away, or that my life would ever exist without my it- on the day that I truly succumb to my eating disorder;
I couldn’t contain my exhaustion anymore.
I couldn’t live like that anymore.
And there was a part of me that didn’t want to go out like that – you know, unhealthy, falling apart, body shutting down.
But the bigger part of me was just tired.
And then the hard part: trying to change.
I had no idea where I wanted to be or what my goal really was. I mean, all I really knew was that I had to do something. I had no idea what.
Nevertheless, I set out trying to understand why – why had this taken 12 years of my life. Where did this start? Why did I do this?
And I hated the answers I got. I hated those answers so much that I took 10 steps back and threw my middle finger up in the air and said, ‘screw the f*** out of this – I’ll stay the God damn same.’
And this entire journey has been littered with mistakes, I’ll say that now. And maybe that was bound to be the case when I didn’t even know what my goal was, but the point is, it wasn’t seamless; it wasn’t nice; it wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy (sorry for the cliche).
And eating disorders are nasty creatures. These things take your entire mind before they even begin to pursue your physical body.
But after a whileI came back to try again – and so there I found myself delving into my psyche at a time where I just wanted to go back to the coping mechanisms that I already knew.
And, inevitably, I didn’t like that. I became disgruntled. I was twice as irritable as before; I was constantly on edge. I felt disgusting in my own body. I absolutely hated it.
Why? Because I had to freakin look myself in the mirror and see what I’d become and just how far I’d let myself fall. It was absolutely wretched.
I also had to literally look myself in the mirror after spending a lifetime running away from the damn things.
But I’d lost the game of trying to run – there was really nowhere left for me to run. And there I sat, before a mirror absolutely appalled at what stared back at me.
And that made me angry – angry that I had to deal with it – ‘let’s just go back to what we were doing’, ‘this is a waste of time’ blah blah blah – you all know the story – run run run far away from your problems. That will surely make them go away.
But I did run. I ran even though I had no where to run to, and I kept trying to just get away. But that didn’t stop it from eating away at my conscious. See the tides of change had already begun. I just had to reluctantly begin to really commit myself to giving in.
Would I? Did I believe I would? Did I?
Kind of. Yes. I mean, I had so many competing interests happening in my heart;
I had that stubborn part of me that didn’t want to be cornered by this stupid eating problem anymore.
And the part of me that was tired; The part of me that was sick of feeling so gosh darn sad about myself all the time.
Yeah I eventually gave in. I gave in because of exhaustion. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
So, there I sat in front of a mirror for days at a time.
I mean seriously, days at a time I would sit there and just force myself to look in the mirror; to start seeing what was really there, and not just what was inside my head.
My first step was seeing myself for what I actually was.
And that was, undoubtedly, one of my hardest steps.
I had to delve back into 12 years of the same images and perceptions of myself and try and untangle them.
I hated it!
I wanted to quit!
Some days I did quit!
But that stupid stubborn part of me was fucking relentless. (I learned to love that part of me)
And one day I did see myself. Really see myself.
And I felt… relief.
It was like a giant net had been removed from my lungs.
I felt like I could breathe again.
I finally saw that it wasn’t the mirror that was lying, but my mind. And it was only when I started to look into my mind that I could really start to change that picture in the mirror in front of me.
But that was just the beginning.
Then I had to actually start changing the bloody behaviours!
And to be honest that is something I am still working on now.
And I’ve learned a lot – still am learning a lot.
See I deal with my ED every day. Every day I look it in the eye and I dare it to challenge my decisions.
I look myself in the mirror every morning and every evening.
I take pictures of myself, and I actually look at them.
I wear clothes that don’t hide my entire body.
I gain weight.
I come face to face with my ED every day and there is not a single day that passes that my ED DOESN’T try to challenge me.
And I think maybe this is how it will be for a while to come.
I cannot expect to change 12 years of behaviours in 2 years; not even three or four.
Because every time I eat something I still have that voice telling me to stop.
Every time I wear a fitted shirt I still have that voice telling me that I’m disgusting.
And I have the permanent damage too.
The damage I have done to my teeth, esophagus and stomach. The little secrets that I keep to myself when the doctors refer to extensive issues that have arisen due to ‘something.’
But I have more energy.
And I don’t feel so cold all the time.
And I can push a door now without almost floating away.
And I’m not always so angry.
And I’ve rediscovered so many flavours of food that it makes me dizzy just thinking about how long I went without those flavours!
And you know – I am still tired. But not because of my ED.
I’m tired because now I can fill my life doing the things I want to do.
I make my own schedules now and they never revolve around food; only you know, insofar as I ensure I do eat.
And slowly, day by day, I’m not as angry about the change I decided to make.
And I know this is just a snipet of what it has taken so far, but what I really wanted to show you;
You who might have gone through the same thing;
Or you, that needs help starting;
Is that I didn’t believe it was possible.
Heck, I didn’t even believe it when I starting trying to change.
But sometimes all it takes is something remote to get you going.
For me is was the exhaustion.
Sometimes that is the smallest of push you need to start heading in the right direction.
I know sometimes when we start changing we start EXPECTING things. Expecting ourselves to be different right away; expect ourselves to engage with the process everyday; expect expect expect. No. You just need a small ounce of SOMETHING pushing you forward.
I also want to stress that I had, and still have, days where I bloody well hate myself. Where I get angry at myself for the journey I decided to go down; ‘if I had just kept things the way they were this would all be so much easier.’
That voice. I still get that – this isn’t some miracle game.
And that’s the point; I was angry at myself almost every step of the way. I resented myself and the changes I was making, and some days I still do.
But that anger, and the voices in your head telling you this is stupid, those voices telling you its better off the way you were before; that’s not your voice. Those are the voices of your ED trying to keep you in the sinking pit of body dysmorphia.
They don’t want what’s best for you. They are liars, and they have stolen far too much from you already.
There is absolutely nothing nice about eating disorders. They are thieves. And I will not lie to you; there is nothing nice about confronting your eating disorder either.
But it is worth it. (sorry! cliches! ah!)
As much as you don’t deserve the pain your eating disorder has caused you; the pain you will confront trying to tackle your eating disorder; you are worth feeling alive again.
And I promise, you will feel alive again.