After heading home from college for winter break I was unpacking in my room and found the journal I had kept in the hospital. With most of my day being down time while there, I wrote a lot about my thoughts and overall feelings. Some of the stuff I wrote makes me sad to reflect on, yet at the same time serves as a reminder for how far I have come.
Last week I had the first positive doctors’ appointment I have had in a while, and it gave me a sense of renewed motivation in my recovery process. It also gave me the confidence to share the thoughts that I wrote down six months ago.
This is what I reflect upon on July 20th, about four days into my stay.
“It all happened so fast. One day I was nourishing my body, hiking with my family and feeling strong. Seven months later – just 210 days – I had lost my strength. I was 25 pounds underweight with a heart rate of under 40. My eating disorder hit me with full force and completely out of the blue. It left me gasping for air, left my family and friends questioning what had happened and it left me sitting here in Seattle Children’s hospital writing this. As I stare at the clock waiting for my ‘meal time’ I attack myself with questions filled with resentment. How could I have let this happen? How could you do this to yourself? So the question is, where did it start? But the most important question is how can I prevent it from happening to other kids just like me?”
“Wow, you ate all of that? You can really put it away!” Or “How does Georgia eat like an elephant yet stay skinny?” Or worse, “You’re really going to order that and fries?”
“So I made the decision. Simple and easy. Just start eating healthier and then there is no risk for comments like that. And so the downward spiral commenced. The train left the station and I hadn’t even realized I was on it.”
I like to think I have mentally come a long way since this was written. I no longer blame myself for what happened and I can now recognize that an eating disorder is a disease, it is not self imposed and it is not a way of simply looking for attention.
I can now hear those comments and they don’t influence me as much. I have tried to look past the other things that people say and just focus on myself. So what if my friend is ordering a salad? In order to be healthy right now I simply cannot do that.
Yet there are also a lot of things that I resonate with in looking back at these journal entries. I do still wonder how I let myself get like this and I cannot yet pin point where it really started. I think the difference now is that I have accepted that it has happened and am now looking for solutions rather than living in the past.
I like to think that the only way to go is forward and up from here. No longer do I mull over the past and try to change it because there is simply no doing that. This is my situation now and I have to face it rather than run from it. In the short term, it will be the hardest thing I have ever done. In the long term, it will make me a stronger and better person.