One of the wonderfully, horrifically, catastrophic, magnificent blessings I’ve had in this life was the gift of an eating disorder. It wrapped me up and was my best friend when I felt alone. It was also a joy-stealer, nothing like a true friend would be. So it challenged me to grow…and to learn to live in a body and a mind that could be stronger than I had allowed it to be to that point. I reminisce down memory lane about that process fairly frequently and can spot an ED’d individual with my eyes closed now. In the light and in the dark, my process was what it was. It shaped me into who I am now. I’m not perfect, far from it, but I do know that I’m valuable and worthy…we all are.
So cheers to the dark side…and the light side:
I remember one of my show’s cast mates addressing it with me one night as we walked to our cars…I denied it and laughed it off then went home to my apartment and cried.
I remember telling my parents that I needed help for this strange disorder…they didn’t know what to say or how to handle this foreign concept of not wanting to eat or wanting to purge what you had just taken in.
I remember not eating one day and then being famished the next, gouging my body with baked goods and then disciplining it by taking a sleeve of over-the-counter laxatives and a handful of Ultra Diet Pep pills…thankfully I woke up after passing out in my bedroom, completely unaware (still to this day) of the amount of time I was out for.
I remember knowing it was time to see someone who could help, “all I really needed was a nutritionist” I believed…by the grace of a Higher Power, I was led to an angel-woman who would step in to be my advocate and align all of the proper medical and psychiatric care I would need to begin to straighten out my life.
I remember the group therapy, the individual therapy, the internist visits, the nutritionist check-ins, loathing them on certain days and rejoicing for them on others…painful as those days would be, those tools were helping me, challenging me to make the choice to change my situation.
I remember walking with my bathroom scale to my apartment’s dumpster to release myself from that slave of a number-rotator…I sobbed and cried for hours.
I remember meeting my now-husband at the YMCA and feeling euphoric about how well things had progressed for me over my treatment, leading me to a fun-loving guy who had a heart of gold…I decided I must truly be healed now that I was not practicing those disordered behaviors and I was beginning to feel what love could be so I dropped out of my therapies (and began filling the holes I hadn’t addressed with other addictions instead.)
I remember the first time my marriage was tested in the beginning of the second year…I realized I had more work to do.
I remember working a LOT on myself over the next 15 years…one step forward and two steps back.
I remember finally grieving the loss of an innocent time in my life and understanding that I had very few dependable support systems in place that I could rely on…damn, it was hard to open up and realize that trust is a real struggle-bus for me.
I remember realizing one day through the gift of a program at Onsite that it was really possible for me to be an adult…and it’s ok to ask for help…and it’s ok to have a crappy-ass day…and it’s truly ok to be content.
Eating disorders are tricky bastards. They pray on your will. They lie to you. They create a different persona for you. They mess with your physical body. They love you. And they deceive you.
I would never wish that type of emotional (or physical) toll on anyone and am speaking from my own experience. But I can safely say that for me, without my ED, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. It taught me to be strong. It taught me to be resilient.