June 1st 2008: a story of what it’s like to be living with an eating disorder

Hi all!

Happy Sunday 🙂 Post number five for Eating Disorder Awareness week. This was 4567% unplanned. I wrote this post very late last night while sitting on my floor (sit on your floor often kids, it’s very very grounding), drinking bedtime tea, and instead of reading like I have been doing before bed I decided to open a can of worms… metaphorically speaking of course.

This post induced some crying. When organizing yesterday I saw my binder from treatment and some old journals. Flipping through one of the journals, one page was folded. After reading, I don’t remember why it’s folded. Perhaps that will come. But I think the universe meant for me to read this, and that may or may not be a future post. As I say often when talking about recovery, it’s a process. Let’s say for example there are 20 phases of recovery (arbitrary number for example purposes only): where 0 is the initial starting point, 20 is it never happened, and 19.5 is pretty much as far as one gets (aka “recovered” or “in full remission”)… I’m at like 18. I’m still IN this process. For my process, phase 18+ is the deep inner child work.

I’m sharing this to shed light on what it is like to be living with an eating disorder. I say “with” because it literally is like living with another person, a very abusive person, but one that somehow still gets the final say.

I’ve shared a journal entry before, from 2013 during my time in treatment. It’s linked so read that if you wish, but I think this one, at least for me, is even more powerful because my 26 year old self can feel that sense of fear and pain that comes with the beginning.

Only parts of this entry will be shared below, some parts that get into specific behaviors are omitted for the sake of it not being extremely triggering for anyone reading that is struggling. It is from June 1st 2008. Close to 12 years ago. This is between my freshman and sophomore years of high school and about 4 years into my eating disorder.
Side note, low key pats on back/high five to 2008 Sarah and her writing abilities. Love, 12 year older self.

*Disclaimer: if you are actively struggling with, in recovery from, or feel at risk for developing an eating disorder PLEASE read this only with your own needs in mind. If you feel like this will be triggering please don’t read this post.*

“I don’t understand how this happened. When I hear the word “anorexic” it makes me cringe. But there is part of me that feels a sense of accomplishment. I did enough of what I was told and reached something.
I highly doubt I’ll ever 100% beat this. I want to but I can’t. I feel like even when I’m 50 years old things will still be like this because I’m too far gone. But I don’t want it to be like that then. I want to remember it, how bad this sucks, how much pain I’m in that nobody sees. I need to remember it so I don’t go back.

When I really look at myself all I see is a ghost. There isn’t a person here anymore. It’s all restricting, finding creative ways to get rid of food, losing my friends, losing jumprope, feeling guilty about every single thing.

I can’t focus. My brain is consumed by thinking about how I will act, eat, burn it off. On repeat. It never stops. At home, at school, at practice *I was in cross-country at the time*. I’m obsessed… with myself… with taking myself out… to feel like everything will be ok. Why? What went wrong that this happened.

I want to let this go. I don’t know who I am or what I even like. I’m all over the place. I feel like if I stay scattered people won’t be able to see me. It feels fucked up because I am alive in this world and am grateful for that yet I hate myself. It is like living inside a game, a game in my head. I look into the mirror and don’t like what I see but what I’m most scared of is me.

I hate that I let myself get as bad as I did last year. I’m my own worst enemy. I’m afraid to let this go and this causes me to be in a constant battle with my mind. I don’t know who I am anymore or what I am going to become.

I have good memories of before this all started. But I also feel like I was never enough. Nothing has ever been enough. Especially with my dad. We always fight and it makes me extremely uncomfortable but I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like I’m mad at him because he doesn’t care care of himself. He has Crohn’s and has gone through over a dozen surgeries and I know it’s becoming more of a problem even though he tries to hide it. I’ve told him how I feel and asked him to try to take care of himself. He says he will try but doesn’t and I feel like he is just giving up. I feel like whenever I do try to connect with him about my life he gets angry and is disappointed. And then I get angry. I feel lonely, like I don’t belong.

There’s so much that nobody knows, that I think will be a secret until much later in my life because I don’t want to add more negatives or be seen as weak. The past four years are built on secrets, lying, hiding, and destroying my life for a voice that isn’t even mine. I want to beat this, to feel like I have a family again, to feel comfortable. But I think I still need what I’ve been doing.”

After my own reading this:
26 year old self to my younger self –
Thank you for doing what you needed to feel safe, even if at this point it was terrifying for you, this was a protective mechanism. You weren’t able to make sense of it then. You were young when this all started. You did your best with the resources you had.

“Be the love you never received.
Be the acknowledgement you never got.
Be the listener you always needed.
Look at the younger versions of yourself within you and give your self what it is you always needed.
That is the first step of healing.”
– Vienna Pharon

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