To my fellow fighters: as you know, eating disorders are often glamorised and seen as a fashionable thing had by models and celebrities. As you know, the harsh reality is not so glamorous. It’s 3am and you’re crying on the bathroom floor after a midnight binge, your eyes full of haemorrhages from being sick so much. It’s not seeing your friends for months because you’re too ashamed of how fat you are, it’s not bathing because you can’t bear what you look down and see. It’s being an empty, freezing, blue ghost hovering in silence with too little energy to say anything. It’s being overwhelmed with guilt, feeling like you’ve just killed a puppy with your bare hands when in fact all you’ve done is have lunch. It’s self-destructive and agony for you and everyone around you. Glamorous, it is not.
But why? Why do so many of us give in to this demon and allow our souls to be torn from us, one dreadful day at a time? And I really do mean so many of us – there are far too many strong, amazing women in my life fighting this horrible fight. Because it’s like heroin. ‘You look so skinny’, ‘omg you’ve lost so much weight’; it’s euphoric and in that moment all the agony is worth it. You know it’s wrong, you know it’s hurting your loved ones, you know it’s jeopardising your future and ruining the present, but still somehow every cell in your body is screaming at you: “You are too fat and you must be skinnier”. No matter how strong you think you are, fighting against every cell in your body is bloody hard. The prospect of recovery is giving up on all (you thought) you ever wanted – failing, surrendering, saying goodbye to any ounce of self-worth you could have achieved if you had just reached that lower weight.
In reality, recovery is winning, recovery is getting your soul (and boobs) back, getting your loved ones back, getting your future back. Every mouthful you force down with tears in your eyes is one step closer to winning. It’s tolerating the most agonising emotional torment not just once, but with every single bite every single day for months and months and months.
It’s a marathon and every time you are told ‘you’re looking so well’ and all you hear is ‘YOU’VE GOT A LOT FATTER’, each time a friend boasts about a diet or how long they spent in the gym – you are kicked back 20 miles and have to do it all over again.
I can only comment on the lows and the journey as I have not yet reached my destination and got myself back, but I’ve heard it’s pretty damn good.
Do it for your poor mum. Do it for sipping sangria in Barcelona with your best friends. Do it for a pizza in bed with your boyfriend hungover. Do it for going to sleep at night at one with yourself – recovery is the only way, the only option.
So dig so deep and we can do this together. Use this illness to become a stronger person, a more compassionate person who is able to recognise that no matter what someone looks like they can be fighting the biggest fight of their lives – against their own mind. You can’t see what’s going on behind a smile, always remember that.