I Want My Life Back
Eating Disorders. . . how often do we hear them mentioned nowadays? “Eating Disorders Are On The Rise”, “Increases In The Number of Inpatient Treatments for Eating Disorder Patients”, “More Money To Be Spent on Eating Disorder Treatment” are just a few of the numerous news reports that have been published in the last few weeks. But despite the media focus there are still people out there that do not realise just how dangerous eating disorders are. For some there is still a belief that they are glamorous, a way of getting attention and even “a diet gone wrong”. But that isn’t the case.
An eating disorder is a serious mental illness. It attacks its sufferers from within and drains all their physical and psychological resources until there is nothing but a shell of their former selves left. It’s debilitating, isolating and it’s a killer...anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, bulimia is associated with severe medical complications, and binge eating disorder sufferers often experience the medical complications associated with obesity. In every case, eating disorders severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and make every single day a living hell.
The battle is never ending and invades every aspect of life, but there is hope – recovery is possible. When sufferers can identify they have a problem and begin to see how difficult their life has become they can start fighting back, but imagine the strength and courage the writer of the letter below needed to stand up and take her life back as she fought her internal demons...
“Dear Eating Disorder,
Why do you continue to invade my life? Trying to control, manipulate and dominate everything I do and every decision I make so that I find myself questioning my ability to do anything right. I hate that you have wormed your way back into my life and that I was too weak to fight you, but as angry as I am at myself for allowing that to happen I am angrier at you.
You have worked so hard to turn me into someone I despise. The strong, confident woman that I spent years becoming seems to be a thing of the past. I was good at my job, actually forget that I wasn’t just good at my job I was excellent at what I did and yet here you are taking away my ability to concentrate, to interact with my colleagues like I should do and constantly telling me how useless I am and that I deserve to be having such a hard time because I am just not good enough. Thanks for that – I appreciate you making me feel like that about something I once loved doing so much – NOT!
And then there’s the ability to study and revise for my exams at the minute. Do you think I enjoy the hours I spend having to beg you to be quiet just long enough to give me time to sit for an hour and absorb what I am trying to read?
Do you think it feels good for me to have to agree that I won’t eat for however long you dictate just so that you don’t feel the need to yell at me constantly while I’m actually sitting in the exam hall?
Can you even contemplate how powerless it makes me feel knowing I am agreeing to your terms when I really don’t want to, just so I don’t have to endure the punishment you constantly inflict on me?
Oh wait, why am I even bothering to ask when I know you don’t care, just like you don’t care how tiring it is when you push me to exercise more than I know I should or can just so you’ll let me sleep for a few hours.
Do you really think you need to constantly remind me that I need to limit what I eat, take extra laxatives or exercise more to stop me getting fatter? I can assure you, you don’t, I can do that all by myself - but again thanks for the extra “motivation”.
I can see what you are trying to do to me and I hate you for it. I hate myself even more for allowing you to isolate me from my friends, to become moody, bitchy and so self absorbed that I don’t care about the impact that my actions have on anyone around me. I hate that I have to constantly lie to the people I love. I hate that you think its ok to throw a temper tantrum every time I try to stand up to you making my life so difficult I eventually have to give in again and what I hate even more is that you think that it’s ok for you to do this to me.
Have you any idea what it feels like to be me right now? How functioning on a daily basis without any energy is so draining and exhausting that there are times I struggle to get out of bed? How as each laxative I swallow makes me think about how much physical pain it is going to cause me, how much time I am going to spend lying on the bathroom floor crying?
Imagine what it would feel like if your muscles burned and ached so much that you thought you were going to drop but someone was constantly telling you that you couldn’t stop exercising, you hadn’t done enough yet, that stopping would make you a quitter and you were already failing at enough. Unlike you, I don’t have to imagine what those things are like because it’s what each and every day is like for me thanks to you.
Everything you make me do drains me just that little bit more so that the energy I once had to fight you ebbs away, as your screaming continues to get louder making my rational thoughts slip further and further out of my conscious reach you think you are winning. And maybe you are – at least for now...but that will change.
I know the battle that lies ahead, you and I have been here before and for a while I BEAT YOU. I CAN do that again. I’m not a teenager any more. I’m not a scared lonely little girl that feels totally alone in the world that you can take advantage of and use for your own enjoyment. I have amazing friends, a loving family and more than that, no matter how weak I feel right now I know I am a fighter. I survive. I am strong and this time when I say goodbye to you it will be for the last time.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Healing old wounds hurts and facing up to my fears will hurt but that pain can’t hurt me as much as you are right now. I don’t need you to punish me any more. I want my life back so please, for the last time, please just leave me alone.”
So next time you hear someone mention eating disorders or start to think they aren’t real illnesses stop for a moment and think about the stamina needed to survive every day when a battle like this is raging inside.
Eating Disorders are not a sign of weakness; they are an illness that it takes strength, courage and determination to recover from. Those suffering don’t want your pity or your attention all they want is to be able to take their lives back.