This past Sunday was the NEDA Walk in Baltimore. I had wanted to do this walk for a while now with my friends and family who’ve helped me to make it through my time while at college. I was pleasantly surprised with how many of my true friends were able to make it out for me, especially having to leave at 7 a.m. after staying up late on a Saturday night…studying… I was also so extremely happy and touched that my Aunt Debbie, cousins Jackie and Ben and their son Brennan (the cutest little boy ever!) came all the way down from New Jersey just for the walk. It all really showed me how many people are there for me through anything.
I was hesitant to go, however. About a month before I went, one of the women I was with at Remuda found out about my team and confronted me about why I didn’t want to join hers, along with another member of our Remuda patient family. I tried to explain nicely, but truthfully getting across things that were on my mind, about how neither of us had kept in contact well and that I didn’t want to always do “ED” things with them, and only when it was convenient for them. Apparently my heartfelt text was offensive and I got a reply strongly hinting that the friendship was over. Despite that text, when I spotted them at the walk I approached and asked how they were doing, sharing hugs with them. It was one of the most awkward interactions I’ve ever had before. You know that feeling when you see someone approaching that you talk to but don’t really like and you look around and avoid eye contact? That’s what I was getting from them. I just thought of their interaction so immature. I don’t hold it against them, though. Maybe for them staying friends with someone you met in tragedy is helpful, but for me it just slows me down from progressing in the ways I need to. But, seeing the way they treated me gave me closure that I don’t need to regret knowing that I no longer want to be associated with them.
Anyway, back to the walk. There were four speakers there. The first, Andrew Walen, is recovered from an eating disorder. I was so happy that he spoke because people seem to deny the existence of eating disorders in men.
Two other speakers were the father of a girl recovered and the girl herself. I am not much older than her; she is a sophomore and I am a junior. However, her battle began much before mine did. She went into treatment in high school and I did during my freshman year at college.
The final speaker was a woman who struggled with an eating disorder as a young adult, but is now solidly in recovery with a 3-year-old boy. She was especially inspirational for hope of a bright future. Because physical repercussions and bodily harm are common in eating disorders and I never had any, many days I fear that I have ones I will not notice until later in life. Namely, I am terrified that I rendered my body infertile. For all my life, having my own child has been a huge dream of mine and I know that if I damaged my body so badly that I cannot have a child, I will be crushed.
All of the speakers were very inspirational. I hope that one day in the future I will be able to get up in front of a crowd and show people how far I’ve made it in recovery; how much my quality of life has improved and how much positive change has come.
Saying that I wasn’t affected by the walk would be a lie. I was overwhelmed with love from my family and friends, but it also impacted me negatively. I did compare myself to others. In my mind, I looked nothing like someone who’s had an eating disorder. My mind has been racing with negative thoughts so much that I now have to go see my therapist and dietitian. I am scared I will relapse.
I think that the reason I’ve overwhelmed with negative thoughts and cognitive distortions right now is that I have so many little things that built up and have just tipped me over the edge. I still am not, and have not been, satisfied with my body. I just can’t come to accept it: my calves don’t fit in boots, my legs are like logs, my stomach will never be flat. I can’t win when it’s my mind vs. my body. The attacks are too strong.
However, I must continue to remind myself that the most important thing is that I recognized I can’t make it through this rough patch alone. I have too much self-hatred to not see my therapist.
I feel an immense amount of guilt. Guilt at thinking the ways I have been. Guilt at not eating well or nearly enough. Guilt at not telling someone earlier about my thoughts that I didn’t think of as unusual. Guilt at putting up such a strong outward appearance and having my family and friends there for me to celebrate my recovery when I broke down almost the minute I got back. Guilt that a part of me wants relapse soooooo bad.
Writing about those things is the last thing I planned on doing. I don’t want my parents to find out about these thoughts and to worry. I wish I could just pass through life invisibly, but it’s not possible. So Mom and Dad, if you read this, please don’t talk to me about it. I’m handling things on my own and I can’t bring myself to talk to you all about these struggles. It’s hard enough talking to anyone about them.
To everyone else, I’m sorry if I’ve let you down in any way with all my positive and upbeat posts, but right now, I need to be honest and show you that recovery is a bitch. It’s hard and it’s breaking me down right now. All that I’ve wanted to do was to sit in bed, sleep and cry. But I can’t and I won’t. I have too much to lose if I relapsed. I need to focus on the future and take one day at a time, hoping that when I wake up things will be better.