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I think it is easy for people to look at a picture of me when I was very thin and to understand that I was somehow not okay. They can see my outward appearance, and maybe some people understand that the way that I used to look meant bad things.
At the time when I was wrapped up in my anorexia, it didn’t feel like very many people thought I looked “sick” or even “unhealthy,” though.
Everywhere I looked, I saw people who seemed smaller than me. I turned on the TV, and women were wearing my size. Doctors even told me that I should be a model.
Occasionally a friend would mention to me that my dramatic weight loss seemed excessive, but this statement was always followed with a “but…” that made my restricting and self-hatred seem logical and okay.
Of course, that’s unfair. No one knew what went on inside of my head. My outward appearance didn’t tell anyone that I compulsively exercised, took laxatives several times a day, or that I started counting calories and restricting my diet severely…
My outward appearance didn’t tell people that I was wholly unconnected to my body. My anxiety was so high that I numbed it out by not eating, by losing myself in thoughts of food, weight, and calories only.
My anorexia was my whole identity, my friend, and my comfort.
In my worst phase of anorexia at 23, I isolated myself completely from my friends, family, and everyone I knew. My family started to become angry because I avoided them for weeks on end, making excuse after excuse about why I couldn’t see or talk to them. I stopped answering texts from friends wanting to hang out because I knew “hanging out” involved food.
I obsessed about everything and developed intense compulsions. I felt hopeless; I was who I was, and nothing would ever change unless I could be someone else. I thought that killing myself was the only way to get rid of the intense amount of suffering and anxiety I felt every day.
It took all different kinds of treatment to help me realize my own destruction was going to kill me. I still wasn’t sure that recovery was what I wanted.
In a pivotal moment after discharging myself against medical advice from an inpatient unit, I chose to continue recovery and continue LIFE.
Tomorrow I will be 26. I have been struggling with anorexia off and on since the age of 14. At 26, I know I have a lot to learn and a lot of life yet to live.
I know myself, my goals, my thoughts, my opinions, and I have an identity now that isn’t tied to anorexia. I have a real future.
Three years ago today, I didn’t want a future. For all of you out there fighting to survive, it is worth it.
I hope I live to enjoy many, many more anorexia-free birthdays.
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