Friday, November 1, 2013

Friends and Triggers.

"Sorry for creeping, but I also just read your post before that from the wedding. It made me cry. I haven't seen you much lately--I didn't know how rough of a time you had been having recently :( I love you so much, you are a wonderful person! You will overcome this. There WILL be a time when you will be able to look at things without seeing them through your eating disorder, I just know it. Hearing about your experiences is painful, and it makes me angry at this disorder for affecting you and hurting you, as silly of a stance as that may be :( I'm sorry I can't truly relate to everything that you have to face in order to keep healing and recovering, but I will always care. I may be relatively helpless for the most part, but I'm here for you."

Amanda and I last year.

I received this message from one of my very best college friends, who has been a lifesaver for the past year and a half, after I shared with her my post about my dislike of Halloween and my insecurities that come with this holiday. I dissolved into tears instantly. Just seeing her "get it." Seeing her understand and just accept my anorexia for what it is--a disease. Something that I cannot control as hard as I try. It's a rare moment.

It's very rare that I find these people. It is very rare that I get this reaction. Most of the time, what I hear from the general population of my friends is an apology, some awkwardly phrased questions about it, and then a topic change. And then there's the people who tell me that I should just pray about it. Or the ones who say they don't understand because they think I'm beautiful... Because that's all that eating disorders are about.

I've actually gotten a lot of flack today for disliking Halloween. Some people get it and others don't. I actually had a conversation with one of my other friends about it today. She told me that Halloween isn't all about food. It's conversations like this that remind me just how consumed I am and just how much the general population does not understand about eating disorders.

And as I'm starting to finally convince myself to give this very unclear, terrifying and unfinished route of healing a try, I know that I'm going to need friends. More than ever. But what sucks is that my anorexia has destroyed so many of my relationships this year. I am more isolated than I have been in a long, long time. Or at least, I feel that way.

But then there's also the idea that people don't understand exactly how hard this is. They don't understand how eating disorders work. And normally, I would sit down and take the time to teach them. To teach them how to support me, how to talk about it with me, how the whole thing works, but I am just so tired of it right now. I'm at the point where I just want people to understand it all and just know. I don't want to have to teach them. I don't want to have to explain it.

I want people to react like Amanda and be angry at the disorder for all that it's taken from me and how it's hurting me. I want people to listen and not see me as crazy. I want people to understand that I need them to walk through this with me--to be patient with me on bad days, to push me forward, to celebrate the small victories like eating a snack or having a meal with someone or getting out of bed in the morning. I want these people on my side, supporting me in this. Because I can't do this alone.

I was at the grocery store a couple days ago with the second friend I mentioned, C, and another girl, M. The other girl had (and in my opinion still does) struggled with anorexia previously and knew about my current struggle with it. I figured that she would get it. But we're at the grocery store and she makes a comment about not wanting to get something because it's "not healthy." The other girl encourages her to put it back, while I encourage her to get it if she wants it. She decides to put it back. C tells me that M is trying to lose weight and she's only trying to support M. I say something about how M doesn't need to lose more weight and it isn't healthy for her, mainly from an eating disorder stand point. This event was just triggering for me. But that coupled with the fact that M continues to talk about weight and how much she wants to lose and throw around numbers and tell me about how she hasn't eaten... when she knows that I'm not in a good place. She personally had an eating disorder and knows how to talk about them. She told me that she wants to help support me through this. But she is triggering to be around.

I had another friend who I spoke with recently about Halloween and skimpy costumes and body comparison and she responded to me that she understood and that I wasn't alone because she did it too. And then she said, "They're all so skinny... It's gross." And I don't know why that statement made me so uncomfortable... maybe because I had just finished the conversation with my other friend and was frustrated with her not understanding. But in my mind, I thought, if she thinks that the girls who I am, for lack of a better word, idolizing are gross, then what does she think of me? Does she think I'm gross for wanting that?

Lately I've found it so hard to just go through normal life without being triggered by something. Whether it's in class and we're talking about the physiological and brain basis of feeding or in another class talking about weight bias. Or in my apartment and my roommate is talking about what she's eaten that day. Or I'm walking somewhere and see a girl running on the sidewalk.

I've forgotten how hard this all is. How alone I feel in this. How misunderstood I feel.

It's frustrating when people don't understand, when I finally get up the courage to talk about it and people aren't understanding and don't seem willing to learn. It just perpetuates the shame that I feel and the secrecy that I hold around my eating disorder. And how much harder this makes recovery.

Why recovery is necessary: So I can have the strength and energy to teach others the facts about eating disorders and how they can support a loved one recovering from one and so I can not be triggered by the littlest things.