Letter #163

Content Warnings: Disordered eating; Depression; Social Isolation; Stress


Dear Reader, 


I used to be spontaneous. I used to be adventurous. I used to be outgoing. I used to have fun. I used to be the “Yes!” girl. Then I became the “gym girl.” The “No” girl. The “stays-in-on-the-weekends” girl. The “I’ll eat at home” girl. How did this happen? Burrito bowls turned into salad bowls. Whole milk became unsweetened almond milk. Menus, once expansive with sandwiches, pizzas, burgers, tacos, suddenly became filtered to just salads, with dressing on the side and no croutons, of course. Things that were once happy accidents, like an extra Dunkin Donut hole being thrown in the bag, or being given a grande latte when I ordered a tall, quickly became something worth spiraling over.


Before long, everything in the pantry had the same labels slapped across the front: “sugar free, nonfat, low carb, high protein, keto friendly”. If I didn’t go to the gym one day, I had to go twice the next day. My notes app was full of lists of numbers pulled from the nutrition labels of everything I ate each day. Dust collected on the box of tampons that were pushed further and further into the closet as my period disappeared. The shower drain became perpetually clogged as a nest of hair built in the pipes, a result of being so malnourished. My expansive social life dwindled down to only a number I could count on one hand as my usual Yes’s to plans turned into No’s. Weekends became something to dread as I did not trust myself to be alone for days at a time without classes or work giving me something to do. I could no longer make new memories, read new books, or watch new shows as my brain could only handle thinking about one thing: food. That was until I began seeking treatment. 


Beginning my treatment journey was the hardest thing I have ever done in my 23 years of life. I felt perpetually vulnerable, exposed, and damaged every day. But slowly, through group support, individual therapy, food exposures, and lots and lots of tears, I began to heal physically and emotionally. When I began my recovery journey, it felt like I had a pile of bricks sitting on my chest, suppressing everything inherently me and who I wanted to be. But bit by bit, day by day, a brick was lifted off, and I could breathe a little bit better. Foods that once made my heart skip a beat became bearable and then enjoyable until I no longer thought about the numbers associated with them. Recovery gave me my life back. It gave me tools to learn how to handle stress without reverting to food restriction as a coping mechanism. It gave me a community of other people who shared the same thoughts and urges and truly saw me for me. It taught me how to shut down the ED voice screaming in my head until it learned it was unwanted and no longer belonged.

Reader, if you can relate to this in any way, I hope you know that there is life on the other side of an eating disorder. As impossible as it feels when you are in the midst of it, recovery is possible for you and anyone struggling. Please don’t be afraid to reach out. Reaching out is what saved my life and will save yours. You are not alone. I am here. We are here.

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