Every time I would lay my head down to finally fall asleep, my mind would begin zooming with anxious thoughts and negative babbling’s to the point where I would get exhausted and felt like I had already lived through another day.
“How am I going to skip eating at the student council activity?? I’ll just throw away the pizza in a napkin?”
“I’ll tell my friends I can’t go out to eat tomorrow night because I have plans.”
“Just don’t eat throughout the day, drink a lot of diet coke and then you can eat part of the meal with your family.”
I would make plans and ways of how to avoid food and the subject of it. I would hyper focus on my appearance of not only how I looked but I what I would tell myself I was allowed to say to people and how to act.
This lasted for years and years and years. Every. Single. Hour of the day.
I would beg my parents at night to let me run. I would have a full on anxiety attack right in front of them, at 11 p.m. at night, begging, pleading to run on the treadmill.
“I have to. I HAVE TO!!!! Please. I can’t do this. Please.”
I would plead because thoughts would be running rampant like this:
“Emily, if you don’t run above five miles tonight, you’re disgusting. You’re fat.”
“You are nothing if you don’t work off those calories you ate.”
“You’re a fat pig.”
These thoughts weren’t only designated for these moments at night.
They would follow me 24/7 during the day.
The would follow me when I would sleep.
I would have dreams that would validate how gross I was becoming and what I needed to do to change.
I had these rigid rules that I could not break and if I did, I would punish myself for it.
“No eating after 12 p.m.”
“You can only go out if you’ve lost those 5 pounds.”
“Don’t wear ANY tight fitting clothes. You’re disgusting. You can only wear baggy material so no one can see your stomach.”
“You’ve eaten too much. Go purge.”
On and on and on this list went and it never seemed to end. It seemed that my ED kept adding a new one every single day.
I tried to escape in my mind to another world where I was not trapped and I was enough.
That fake world was never enough.
I quit club soccer, club swim, drawing, writing songs, practicing the piano, hanging out with friends, singing, etc. because I was never enough at it. I was not perfect. I didn’t have worth if I wasn’t perfect so I just stopped.
I wouldn’t allow anyone to touch me, to hold me because I was scared.
I was scared because of how my trust was betrayed in this area from the past.
I was scared because I did not want someone to hold me because of how disgusting my body would feel to them.
I was scared because I did not want to let someone close to me then to only turn around and leave me.
My mind became a prison of constantly comparing.
My mind became a prison of a constant barrage of negative narratives that seemed to be so true and valid.
My eating disorder robbed me of experiences of growth and opportunities to love myself and to be loved.
Now, 6 years into recovery, that prison seems more like a hospital. A place where I am still barraged with those negative narratives but am taking the time to nourish myself, to be kind and to allow healing.
To understand that my anxiety is my “normal” and that experiencing the hard emotions won’t kill me but will help me appreciate the good more.
Now, I choose to run because it feels like freedom.
Now, I can go out with my friends because I want to and can actually enjoy a meal because I am with people that I love.
Now, I draw and paint not because I am perfect at it, but because I feel inspired and believe my art can be important because it’s important to me.
Now, I have the capacity and know that it’s a choice to battle my eating disorder by wearing the clothes I like and believing I am still beautiful.
Now, I can understand myself and understand where the negative narratives come from and why the good narratives can be truths.
After getting into my top grad school (NYU!!!), I told my parents yesterday, “wow, maybe negative thoughts about myself can be wrong.”
My Dad told me that that was the greatest thing he’s ever heard me say.
I think he’s right.