60% of those diagnosed with eating disorders never fully recover.
It's literally hell.
There is nothing worse than recovery from an eating disorder.
“You never come back, not all the way. Always there is an odd distance between you and the people you love and the people you meet, a barrier thin as the glass of a mirror, you never come all the way out of the mirror; you stand, for the rest of your life, with one foot in this world and no one in another, where everything is upside down and backward and sad.” (Marya Hornbacher)
There comes a point when it's so difficult that you want to relapse. That you don't care how sick you get, how many relationships you damage, how much worse it is to relapse.
You forget those late nights, kept awake by pains as your body ate away at its self. You forget the feeling of vomiting so hard that it comes out your nose and mouth simultaneously. You forget the loneliness of studying in the library while all of your friends eat. You forget the empty hunger, the famished feelings. You forget how it felt passing out in front of your friends. You forget the arguments with your parents, your brother, your friends. You forget everything in search for one thing that will kill you.
“You begin to forget what it means to live. You forget things. You forget that you used to feel all right. You forget what it means to feel all right because you feel like shit all the time, and you can't remember what it was like before. People take the feeling of full for granted. They take for granted the feeling of steadiness, of hands that do not shake, heads that do not ache, throats not raw with bile and small rips of fingernails forced to haste to the gag spot. Stomachs that do not begin to wake up in the night, calves and thighs knotting in muscles that are beginning to eat away at themselves. they may or may not be awakened at night by their own inexplicable sobs.” (Marya Hornbacher)
It all comes with relapse.
“I don't think people realize, when they're just getting started on an eating disorder or even when they're in the grip of one, that it is not something that you just "get over." For the vast majority of eating-disordered people, it is something that will haunt you for the rest of your life. You may change your behavior, change your beliefs about yourself and your body, give up that particular way of coping in the world. You may learn, as I have, that you would rather be a human than a human's thin shell. You may get well. But you never forget.” (Marya Hornbacher)
And soon enough, you're home. You're no longer at your college, on your own, trusted. You're at home listening to parents blame one another, watching your dad drink himself away, hearing your community talk.
“It is not a sudden leap from sick to well. It is a slow, strange meander from sick to mostly well. The misconception that eating disorders are a medical disease in the traditional sense is not helpful here. There is no 'cure'. A pill will not fix it, though it may help. Ditto therapy, ditto food, ditto endless support from family and friends. You fix it yourself. It is the hardest thing that I have ever done, and I found myself stronger for doing it. Much stronger.” (Marya Hornbacher)
You put food on your plate, on your fork, in your mouth.
Because you want to stay 291 miles from the fighting, the drinking, the blaming, the smothering, the pain. Because you want to be responsible for your own life. Because you want to live.
You want to live.
“This is the very boring part of eating disorders, the aftermath. When you eat and hate that you eat. And yet of course you must eat. You don’t really entertain the notion of going back. You, with some startling new level of clarity, realize that going back would be far worse than simply being as you are. This is obvious to anyone without an eating disorder. This is not always obvious to you.” (Marya Hornbacher)
So you fight.
Even when it's hard.
Especially when you don't feel like it.
But even harder when the depression hits.
You reach out. Then you push people away. But you don't quit.
Because quitting means the end of freedom.
The end of life.
“This is the weird aftermath, when it is not exactly over, and yet you have given it up. You go back and forth in your head, often, about giving it up. It’s hard to understand, when you are sitting there in your chair, having breakfast or whatever, that giving it up is stronger than holding on, that “letting yourself go” could mean you have succeeded rather than failed. You eat your goddamn Cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head that keeps telling you you’re fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I’m busy, leave me alone. When she leaves you alone, there’s a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes...There is, in the end, the letting go.” (Marya Hornbacher)
It's hard as hell.
But it beats the alternative.
So focus on what it gives you.
For me: Gettysburg College.
And that's all that matters right now and all that I think about.
Even when it's hard.
Especially when I feel like quitting.
But mostly, when the depression hits.
Nothing is more difficult.
But it's worth it.
40% of those diagnosed with eating disorders will fully recover.
There is hope.