My Eating Disorder Was My Coping Mechanism, But Now I’m Letting It Go

Trigger warning: Eating disorders

I want so badly to have more power than it, but I myself do not. I am powerless against this illness. I do not contain the strength within my frail body to fight and win. I fought alone for seven years, never revealing out loud what everybody in my life already knew: I was sick. I denied this truth, and I fought it by myself in my own strength and power. And I was losing.

I gained more power and control when I could admit that I was powerless and felt out of control. I gained more strength when I asked for help. More hope when I finally broke and admitted defeat.

To relapse into an illness that controlled your life for more than seven years feels unreasonable. If it were anyone else, it would be understandable. But it is not anyone else. It is me. And relapsing into an illness I spent a third of my life denying of its existence and two more years denying its power and strength makes me feel that more weak.

I know the consequences of these actions. I know them by heart. I remember my doctor reciting everything that could go wrong if I continued down that path. And I didn’t care. I now deal with health issues that were caused by this very illness, and yet I find myself trapped once again within its all-consuming grip.

I know ED’s voice. Loud. Inviting. Kind, yet the biggest bully at the same time. It came to be my friend when I came to the beginning of the loneliest season of my life. It felt like ED had waited and waited, seeking me out for the right time, the right moment. And it’s timing couldn’t have been any more profoundly perfect. Its power is undeniable. ED has made me feel better about myself, more in control within a life that felt like it was spinning out of control. ED has become my perfect coping mechanism. However, it is time to let it go.

So here is to all the years I gave to buying into the lies you told me. If I’m honest, I still don’t want to let go. But I’ve exhausted my options now, you see. All ED has ever given me was a whole array of health issues. It didn’t give me a renewed sense of purpose, it didn’t give me a higher level of confidence—not one that was healthy, anyway. My confidence came from people commenting on how thin or sickly I looked. And if I didn’t receive that comment one day, ED came back so much louder, with a vengeance.

So I am now out of options. Because life with ED has proven to not be a sustainable life. To get better and work towards a more stable mental health, I have to find a way to let go of ED. I’ve been working towards lessening if not ending anxiety, panic, and depression in my life. But I have in no way been willing to let go of ED. In the depths of my mind, I knew they all went hand in hand, but I didn’t care. I want all of it to go away—all of the things that are a problem to me. But in my head, ED was never a problem. ED was fine. I was and am in complete control of ED—more lies I have told myself to keep going another day, another month, another year. I was in control. I am in complete control.

Because that’s what it all comes down to. Control. It’s been the center of my universe since before I can remember, and the feeling you get of being out of control is not exhilarating in any sense of the word. Within my mind, it felt like I was physically, emotionally, and mentally spinning, and there was no other option of stopping other than to reach out and grasp onto whatever I landed on. And within the society I grew up in and society’s expectations screaming at me yet changing every moment, ED was not such a surprise. Or it shouldn’t have been. It gripped onto me so tight, and I loved every moment of it. There was no area of my life I had control in, but here, in this, I was okay. I was better than okay—I was great. I was in control. All of the control belonged to me. ED, you are deceitful, and now I must begin the journey of learning to let go

So thank you, because ED, you have taught me a whole list of life lessons.

That people say things with the best intentions in mind, though sometimes it can do more harm than anything.

That unless they are trained specialists or have had an ED themselves, they really do not understand. Like, at all.

That people closest to you who genuinely care will point out the difficult truths, like the simple statement “something’s wrong.” And you may not realize this for years after.

That life is short, and choosing ED and not choosing to fight means your life may be so much shorter.

That your heartbeat being erratic is not a fun experience. Blacking out constantly is incredibly inconvenient.

That life is supposed to be lived, and not vicariously through social media posts. It is meant to be truly, genuinely lived.

So thank you, ED. I am slowly but surely going to cut ties from the hell that you were. The hell that you are. Goodbye.

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