An Open Letter To My Eating Disorder: I’m Never Letting You Back In

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Dear E.D.,

I try not to think about you anymore, and usually, I succeed. I don’t really know how I healed from you.

Sometimes I think all it took was time.

And it took a long time, about three years of time to get rid of you. I remember when you first came into my life, at the young age of 17. It was my junior year of high school and I had overwhelmed myself with three Advanced Placement Courses and three Honors courses. I thought I could do everything. I thought I’d get into an Ivy, or at least, I assumed that was what I wanted and what others expected from me. I had started running that summer before my junior year because I found that it was a good stress reliever. And then I also realized it was making me lose weight. My thighs began to slim down, my waist became smaller and I finally felt like I loved my legs for the first time in my life.

When I arrived at school, I was flooded with compliments from friends and even some teachers, and it felt good but also deceivingly bad. I wondered why I felt like I was beginning to be seen for the first time in my life as beautiful. I always knew I was a good person, and I knew I was intelligent, but being seen as beautiful was not in my mind. E.D., you had me questioning my identity and self-worth.

I wondered if anyone had paid attention to who I was on the inside before I began losing weight.

Then, I found myself working excruciatingly hard in class, and a constant need to let go of stress in the gym. And I did, every single day. I bought a scale. I weighed myself every morning. Little did I know that in just about three months, I would lose over 40 pounds. I’d get high off of each pound I lost because of you. You started to turn me into a perfectionist. I began to drink coffee every day and night to keep myself awake to do homework. Some nights I wouldn’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. Yet, I still managed to get all A’s that first semester before I came crashing down, hard and quickly, over Christmas break.

By that point, you’d made me cut carbs out of my diet completely. I started becoming afraid of a piece of bread, or a plate of pasta. I’d judge others for finishing a plate of food. It wasn’t until New Years that I admitted to myself I had a problem. I looked in the mirror at myself and my collarbone and my legs. I liked how thin I was, and I liked how my cheekbones were more sunken than they had ever been. But, I didn’t like that I couldn’t recognize myself. I felt like I couldn’t laugh at anything. My bones felt weak. I was tired. I couldn’t run as fast anymore because I wasn’t eating. The whole point of everything I’d worked so hard for became null.

I’m glad I asked for help and I’m glad I left boarding school and came home.

Asking for help was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life because I felt so much shame.

I thought that I was strong and independent and could handle you on my own. I needed my family more than anything and I needed reassurance that everything was going to be normal again…that I would be normal again. I talked to a counselor and I got rest. I finished out my junior year via homeschooling, but I missed my friends more than anything and I blame you so much for that.

You took a part of my life away from me, but you did make me stronger even when I thought you took my life away from me forever.

I ended up a college where I could pursue my love of writing. Eventually, I wasn’t afraid to eat anymore. I realized that all the bullshit of looking pretty in high school is just that: bullshit. I realized that you’re nothing more than a sickness that no one needs or wants and I hope you stay far, far away from me and my loved ones and the girls who think they need to be a certain way to feel accepted.

There’s no guide to getting over you. I’m just glad you faded away.

I’m never letting you back in. TC mark


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