Author's Note: This is a poem I wrote while I was in treatment the first go-around for my eating disorder. I re-read this on bad days, when my urges to use eating disorder behaviors feel overwhelming. I want to preface this by saying there are all kinds of eating disorders, and people who have them come in all different shapes and sizes. I refer to my eating disorder as Ed, many people who have EDs do. Personifying Ed as an abusive partner, a bully, and at times, a friend has helped me and many others in my recovery. This is my anthem, my fight song, the letter etched into my heart and in my bones. I am sharing this because I want to help people understand what living with an eating disorder feels like. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder or other mental illness issues, please visit the NEDA website or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
I used to binge and restrict everything
TV, school, sleep, socialization, and food.
Now I know that living life in terms of extremes is not sustainable or fulfilling.
I used to tell myself that friendship was overrated because rejection terrified me.
Now I have people who love me and accept me, people who run over scales with big red trucks or cut off hydrangea blossoms for me to keep just because they make me happy.
I used to second guess everything I said, long after I'd said it.
Now I know that speaking my truth is more important than the opinions of others.
I used to feel unworthy of reaching for stars or even taking up space.
Now I... I'm working on it.
I used to think that myself and Ed are one and the same.
Now I know we are different.
I used to feel condemned, forsaken, ashamed, unworthy, and forgotten. I used to think I was hopeless, that prosperity was out of my grasp.
Now I have hope.
I hope for a time when mindfulness is easier and experiences don't need to be consumed in excess to be worthwhile.
I hope to be able to try new restaurants without anxiety threatening to rip out my stomach.
I hope to feel safe, loved, and nourished.
I hope to have a dog.
I hope to find my halcyon days.
I wish my journey was easier than it is.
I wish for the strength to move forward.
I wish I could lose weight, but I can't.
So instead I'll recover.
I wish I could always be perfect, but I can't.
So instead I'll be brave.
Ending Note: I am taking the plunge and adopting a dog tomorrow. I still struggle with my eating disorder, but I am further in recovery than I ever thought I would be. I try new restaurants all the time and don't have panic attacks, I work on challenging my perfectionism every single day. My only request is if you comment or review this, that you don't use numbers (sizes, weights, calories, exercise distances, etc.) that you don't describe your own eating habits, that you don't comment food judgments (i.e. good/bad food) and that you don't talk about health in terms of body size. People do this a lot when I tell them I have an ED. And also, anyone can have an eating disorder. I live in a fat body, and I don't use the word fat negatively. Weight loss is not an option for my recovery. I am telling you this so you can avoid triggering/invalidating people who struggle with the same things. Otherwise, have at it.