Categories


Recent Posts


Recent Comments


Archives


Meta



Seven years ago, I sat at the top of the stairs, my knees pulled into my chest, wanting nothing more than to cry but being unable to. I was too tired to cry. I was too tired to lie to my mom when she asked if I had made myself throw up after dinner. I was too tired to stop the connections I saw forming in her brain as she added up all the “stomach aches,” missed dinners, obsessive running, “I already ate”-s, and declining grades.

Seven years ago, I was too tired for anything. With the last ounce of strength I thought I had, I told my mom I didn’t want to do it anymore. I did the closest thing I could manage to ask for help, and at that time, asking meant not denying.

For months I went through hell to heal. Prozac; talk therapy; the humiliation as I sat in front of my guidance counselor as my mom explained my eating disorder; the frustration of being monitored all the time; the peer positive image group in school — day by day, piece by piece, I was made to face my Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. It was a label that I hated because it made me feel as if, even in mental illness, I had fallen short. Day by day, and piece by piece, my parents, my therapist, my doctors, my friends, and my family worked to let the girl they used to know — the girl I used to know — resurface. But for months, I remained without change.

Finally, my therapist, Tonya, asked me, “Do you want to live?”

Did I want to live? What the hell did that mean? Of course I wanted to live. I just wanted to live skinny. Beautiful. In control. What was so wrong about that?

“She’s jealous,” I decided. “She’s jealous because she’s not as skinny. She wants me to stop so she can win. I’m not going to die. I’m seventeen. Seventeen-year-olds don’t just die.”

But that question stuck with me. It stuck with me as I packed lunch in the morning, knowing I would just throw it away. It stuck with me as I forced myself to still go running, despite a bad upper respiratory infection. It stuck with me as I spent hours searching for weight loss tips and diet plans instead of resting or getting homework done. And it stuck with me as I watched my parents watch me with worry, wanting to say something but forcing themselves to be quiet.

Did I really want to live?

Months after Tonya had asked, I walked into my therapy session and said, “I do. I do want to live. Help me.”

I thought that getting to the point where I accepted help would be the hardest part of recovery. It wasn’t. Recovery itself was a thousand times harder. It was like trying to start a fire on a windy day with wet matches: every time there was a spark, I had to fight like hell to keep it from being blown out. And even then, sometimes it would get blown out anyway. I would backslide, sometimes one or two steps, sometimes 50. Every day I reminded myself that I wanted to live, no matter how hard it was. I wanted to be able to go on a date and eat. I wanted to enjoy my mom’s cooking again. I wanted to eat my grandma’s tamales at Christmastime and not be worried about the fact that every tamale recipe is different and there was no surefire way of knowing how many calories were in each one.

I clawed my way back to recovery over months. And finally, Tonya looked at me and said, “I think that this might be our last appointment. What do you think?”

Every siren in my head went off. “I thought you wanted me to live! Why are you giving up on me?”

“I’m not giving up on you. You’re ready for this. You’re ready to not give up on you. And most importantly, you want to live. So go live. And if you need me, I am here.”

I thought that realizing I wanted to live and learning how to manage my eating disorder was the whole of the battle. Now I’m learning how to manage that disorder and grow in my independence at the same time. When I was in therapy, I never failed alone. Now, though I can reach for help, in the end I am solely responsible for my recovery, for my life, and for my story.

When I was in therapy, my parents helped me monitor what and when I ate. Now I have to monitor myself. When I miss a meal I have to ask myself, “Why did you skip lunch? Were you just too busy? Not hungry? Or are you backsliding?” When I was in therapy, Tonya helped me regulate my responses to daily stress in a positive outlet. Now I have to find my voice at work, in relationships, in life, and be able to say, “I am feeling overwhelmed, tired, stressed, sad, frustrated and I need a minute to process.” Now I remind myself that I am human, prone to error, and I have to forgive myself.

Now I remind myself that part of my role as a survivor is education of others.

What I have learned in the past seven years is:

  • I am responsible for my peer situations and I have to advocate for myself.
  • It’s okay to choose recovery over friends, work, relationships and other instances. If I have been upfront and honest, and those situations are still jeopardizing my recovery, there is nothing wrong with walking away. In fact, there’s everything right with it.
  • I am only as sick as my secrets. I give my eating disorder power when I hide it. I have to be willing to tell the necessary people that I have an eating disorder and ask for their support when I need it.
  • Ask for help. If I’m starting to struggle, or I know a particularly stressful situation is approaching, I’ll reach out to my friends and ask them to help me help myself. Whether it’s a text reminder at mealtimes, an invitation at mealtimes or just a check-in, it helps me stay on track.
  • Relapses happen. When they do, I try not to get so caught up on feeling bad about it. Instead, I ivest that energy on working through it and continuing to commit to my healthiest, happiest self.
  • Keep fighting for recovery. It is an everyday commitment, even after treatment ends.

Comments

24
  • Kira

    Kira Kira

    Reply Author

    Thank you for this. The second bullet about recovery being the most important thing really opened my eyes. I am 18, and graduating high school this week. I have done nothing but stress about school and starting college and I’ve let my mental health fly back out the window. I can even look at myself anymore and I need a break but Im too afraid to ask for one. What will happen with school? Will they rescind my offer and my scholarships? I have needed to prioritize my health for a long time now and I keep putting it to the back burner. Im confused and I don’t know what to do.

    Posted on

    • MiCHELLE

      Kira, I noticed that no-one has responded to your comment yet so I thought I would. I hope that’s ok. Please reach out to someone you trust and voice your feelings. You must take care of yourself. Please stop going through your life with a mask that doesn’t allow other people to see your struggles. You are not alone. There are people who can help. It is important for you to make sure you are healthy physically and mentally. Take care of yourself because the stress will only get worse if your don’t learn to balance things and take care of yourself too. I wish I could give you a big hug. (Not trying to be creepy.) I speak from experience. My daughter almost died when she was your age. She is now doing great but she needed to find out how to be healthy. You can do the same. You are worth it!

      Posted on

      • You Matter

        Michelle: Thanks so much for caring and encouraging Kira as well as sharing your story. We are glad you are able to connect and support each other also we encourage you to call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for support!

        Posted on

    • You Matter

      Kira: We are so sorry that you are going thru this. You don’t have to feel alone. The Lifeline is here for you any time day or night at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Don’t hesitate to call us. Your life matters

      Posted on

    • Jon

      Jon Jon

      Reply Author

      My parents think I’m lieing but I’m not one more day in my life and I’ll be gone

      Posted on

      • You Matter

        Jon: No matter what you are going through suicide is not the answer. Please give us a call at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), your life matters!!!!.
        We are here 24/7/ for support

        Posted on

  • Brian

    Brian Brian

    Reply Author

    This means a lot… Really had a lot to think about, but still…

    Posted on

    • RaChel

      RaChel RaChel

      Reply Author

      Brian, how are you doing?

      Posted on

  • Isis

    Isis Isis

    Reply Author

    Thank you for sharing your story. Stories like the ones you shared really make me think that I can make it and that I can actually get help. Thank you again!

    Posted on

  • sydney

    sydney sydney

    Reply Author

    Thanks for being strong and getting through it and for sharing your powerful story!<3

    Posted on

  • austin

    austin austin

    Reply Author

    i want to kill myself but i dont want to

    Posted on

    • Noelle

      Noelle Noelle

      Reply Author

      Austin: I am so sorry that you are struggling. I encourage you to contact the Lifeline at T 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You are not alone.

      Posted on

  • Karen

    Karen Karen

    Reply Author

    Austin, I hope you are ok. Please reach out to someone to talk.

    Noelle, thank you for sharing your story. It’s been over a year now. How are you doing? Are you happy? I’m asking because I’m trying to understand what my daughter is going through. She is 14. No eating disorder but stressed about school. She has ADD so that doesn’t help.
    Anyhow, I’m glad you are better.

    Posted on

    • Noelle

      Noelle Noelle

      Reply Author

      Karen,

      I am doing well. Happiness ebbs and flows. I am proud of everything that I have accomplished but with those accomplishments comes stress and with stress becomes the desire to relapse. I wish i could help you understand what your daughter is going through, but all of us feel stress differently. The way I cope with my stress is by channeling it into something productive. I run when i feel stressed and focus on the sound of my feet on the pavement, the blood rushing in my ears. I write and put down the worries i have into a list, and then work through what I can do to solve it or let it go. I swear by a weighted blanket…it’s helped me sleep and a good night of sleep helps me start the morning clear headed and without stress.
      The most important thing I can tell you is love your daughter. Make sure she knows that. Understand her stress, even if you don’t understand why she’s stressed. Ask her what would help.
      I hope that helps a bit. And thank you. Living a life in recovery when the world can be a stressful place, but is so worth it. We all deserve to experience life fully and truly, without being limited by stress.
      I
      Hope your daughter learns how to manage her stress.

      Posted on

      • You Matter

        Noelle, thank you for participating in our community, sharing your story, and supporting others here.

        Posted on

    • You Matter

      Karen, thank you for participating in our community and supporting others. If you ever need extra emotional support yourself don’t hesitate to call The Lifeline. Our crisis counselors are here for you any time day or night, every day of the year at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

      Posted on

  • Karen

    Karen Karen

    Reply Author

    Thank you, Noelle, for the insight. My daughters stress relief is being on her phone but that’s the problem too. I’ll try and use some of your other ideas. Writing down in a journal may help.

    Thx again. Glad you are doing ok.

    Posted on

  • damien

    damien damien

    Reply Author

    My parents think that I alwase lie to them when I’m not one more hour and ill be In a better place

    Posted on

    • You Matter

      Damien: You life matters!, please call us at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), we are here 24/7 for you no matter what is it that you are going through.

      Posted on

  • why am I alive

    i dont deserve to live

    Posted on

    • You Matter

      why am I alive: No matter what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn’t the answer. Your life matters! In order to talk to a Crisis Counselor, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The call is free and confidential; we’re here for you 24/7/365. You deserve to live and be happy!!

      Posted on

  • NOTSAYING

    Im always depressed, i have anxiety, insecurities, and i just want to die but i dont.. i want to live a future but just hoping to be happy, and everytime i try to open up to my parents they laugh at me and think its a joke. one day i cut myself and told my mom and she said she was gonna whoop me… i needed help and no one is there for me except maybe 2 friends others get sad then try to change the subject… but those 2 try to help but its not enough, im not doing self harm anymore but im still struggling.

    Posted on

    • Amy

      Amy Amy

      Reply Author

      Hey NOTSAYING, I’m sorry you’re not finding the support you need from your parents. I wonder if your mom was so scared that you’d cut yourself and it came out as anger? I know as a mom I would be so afraid but sometimes as parents we don’t know what to do for our kids when they’re hurting. I hope you’ll trust the people at Lifeline and call them. You absolutely deserve to be heard, loved and understood. I feel the pain in your struggles and wish you the very best.

      Posted on

      • You Matter

        Thank you Amy for sharing and encouraging others at the Youmatter Blog.

        Posted on