I remember when I was first suggested to go to a treatment center for eating disorders. I laughed at my therapist. I’m fine, I continued to reason with myself. It’ll get better on it’s own.
Fun fact: It didn’t. It got worse. Two months into treatment, I can finally see that.
I thought my eating disorder started less than a year ago. Well, that’s a big fat lie. It started so long ago, so slightly, that I barely noticed. And it has just continued to creep into my life until it reached hurricane status, category 5. Now I feel trapped in a house that’s flooding faster than I can get the water out.
When my disorder became more acute last year I went to doctors who listened to my eating disorder symptoms and chose to focus on other things, or tell me that I “really should eat more” and let me walk out of their office and back into my disorder world. Even the first time I saw a dietician, she told me she would rather focus on my GI distress rather than the fact that I admitted to only eating goldfish and vitamin water for the last few months. It was like I was being reinforced by my doctors because of their ignorance about eating disorders. It wasn’t until I mentioned it to my new therapist here in San Diego that I even realized how severe this was. I figured I was just going through something and I would snap out of it eventually. Meanwhile, my body was lacking essential nutrients, my anxiety and depression worsened, and my bone density decreased.
So now, I sit in program every day and have to confront my fears. I have to nourish my body. My wise mind would never tell me to starve myself. It would never trick me into thinking food was not safe. But Sasha, my personified emotion mind, likes to tell me differently.
I am in a constant battle with myself to stay afloat, to keep making progress. But just as quickly as I progress, I sink again. I never thought I would be here. I certainly didn’t think I would be two months into treatment and still struggle every day to eat three meals. Seeing what proper nutrition is- what people who don’t have eating disorders eat- I’m in shock. I have had this disorder for so long without knowing it. Which is why this recovery process has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And let me tell you, I’ve been through some shit in my life. Nothing tops this. I thought it would be smooth sailing. I thought I’d be in and out of treatment in a month. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be wrong.
Even on my worst days, when I have behavior after behavior outside of program, when I can’t complete any of my meals for the day, I somehow see the tiniest sliver of what life could be like outside of this never-ending hurricane. The rain will die down, the destruction will stop, and the rainbow will appear. I don’t know when that will be. On my worst days I can barely tell myself that it will ever stop. It’s just the smallest sliver of light peaking through the wind and clouds. But I know that it has to stop. I just have to keep fighting. As hard as it is, as scared as I am to keep facing my fears and exposing myself to the things that brought me into an eating disorder center in the first place, I have to keep fighting.
I’m scared every day. I’m anxious every day. I fight every day. And I certainly never thought I would be writing this post.
But here I am, sharing my story. Because I want anyone who is reading this that struggles with an eating disorder to know that you are not alone. Treatment has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I know it will be one of the best. You can fight alongside me. Because I can’t stop. I have to fight for my future. For my family to have a healthy daughter, sister, cousin, niece. For my friends to have someone they can invite over for pizza or takeout and a movie. For myself, so I don’t have to limit my dreams.