I was out to dinner with my friends not to long ago. We were having an amazing time laughing and catching up. We went to the cutest little restaurant and I had the best pasta Alfredo I’d ever eaten. All was well until we got to the car. We debated on getting ice cream for about .2 seconds until one girl declared that she’d already eaten too much. Then another added, “Ugh me too. Don’t you ever wish you could just be anorexic?”
Girl #3 laughed and commented, “you’re crazy.” Girl #1 again, “Come on, or bulimic. Then we could still get our ice cream.” Girl #2 laughs and adds, “My parents worry for my mental health because of how little I eat, so I think I’m almost there.” Another laugh.
All the while, I am sitting silently in my seat, biting my tongue, avoiding eye contact and seething with anger.
What they didn’t know was that I was more than “almost there.” I had struggled with anorexia and bulimia for over 5 years and it wasn’t something that I’d wished for. I had spent the last five years hating and destroying my body, under the guise that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I somehow couldn’t keep food down even when I tried, and I thought everything was perfect. It wasn’t until everything fell apart that I realized I had been wandering down a dark path, and I didn’t ask for it. There was never a part of me that thought, “I would love to always look at food with disgust and become nauseous at the thought of eating.”
I never wished for dark circles under my eyes from constant purging. I didn’t wish to have an ugly, ugly secret that I could never reveal.
In the moment I hated these girls. I thought they were ignorant and thoughtless. How could they so callously talk about something that plagued my life?
How could they mention that thing, the thing that I counted as my biggest weakness, as if it was nothing?
I couldn’t believe that they were so clueless about such a life altering disorder. Didn’t they know this wasn’t a choice? Didn’t they know I would give anything to be able to look in the mirror without hating the reflection that was staring back at me? But then I realized that was just it. They didn’t know. They didn’t know anything, because I didn’t tell them. They didn’t understand eating disorders as a mental illness, they saw it as a vain choice.