Now that I’ve actually been to treatment, the professionals say I’ve actually had anorexia since I was 24 (2002). You can go to My Story page, my Life Narrative, and/or Diary of a Psychological Anorexic for the full scoop. That is sixteen years or more than 1/3 of my entire life. And that’s with an official diagnosis. Let’s just call it a full 1/2 has been spent either actually with a disorder or with significant disordered thoughts and behaviors.
When I went to residential, there were sixteen of us. As a 40 year old wife and mom, I was THE oldest, THE ONLY parent, and one of only two who were married. The vast majority of the clients were 19-24 years old and in college. That’s right. I could have been a legal adult and had some of these people as my own child. I have advised college students for fourteen years. And here I was, among them.
I wondered repeatedly how I had ended up having a rich, teenage girl’s disease as a not rich, middle-aged (yikes) woman. Why hadn’t I gotten my crap together any earlier? I was jealous of these people half my age who still had their whole lives in front of them and had smartly decided to get help instead of trying to eek out an existence for two more decades.
I have a lot of pride and am fiercely independent. When you’re an only child whose mom dies when you’re 19 and dad has mental health issues, you figure out how to do things on your own. For me, that included dealing with anorexia and depression. I thought that I could just make different choices. I could just eat. I could just be happier. I could just…
The problem is that I couldn’t just. Anorexia and depression are not choice-based illnesses. Who in their right mind would choose either of them, much less the combo deal? I am finally realizing that it’s not as simple as just choosing to do something differently. I have learned some interesting science behind how the brain is actually wired differently for people with eating disorders.
I wish I had not spent sixteen years trying to fix it by myself. My two year old daughter is smarter than me. She says, “I do it myself!” And on the occasions that she can’t, she says, “Mama, I need help!” Another lesson learned from my toddler. #mommystrong #daughterstronger #learningfromlittles
I’m glad I am finally getting the help I need. I have been trying to share this blog far and wide, because I know how prevalent eating disorders are and the shame (and therefore loneliness) that comes with them. It’s debilitating at best, and fatal at worst. If you have come across this blog, please go to the Resources page and seek out help.
You deserve it.