For a really long time, I never wanted to get better. Sure, it was no fun obsessing about calories and freaking out over restaurants and working out ritualistically. Being hungry sucks. Being tired and weak sucks. Lying to your parents sucks. Shutting out friends sucks. BUT you deal with it. Why? Because being skinny is more important. So for a really long time, I saw my eating disorder as the solution—the one thing that proved I was worthy and capable. I took sick pride in being the skinniest of my friends. I brushed off my parents' worrying and the EKG results because I had the solution.
And then my body started to fall apart. Last winter, I started getting sharp stabbing pains in my pelvis, hips, and back. I couldn't sit. I couldn't walk. I couldn't sleep, but I also couldn't stand to be awake because of how uncomfortable I was. I saw at least twenty different doctors—orthopedists, endocrinologists, gynecologists, gastroenterologists, pain specialists—and they all told me something different. No one had any idea what was causing my pain and what I could do to alleviate it. On top of it, my eyes started deteriorating as well. I'd had dry-ish eyes for the year or so prior, but they got infinitely worse about a year ago to the point where I was barely functioning. I couldn't look at a computer screen for longer than about twenty minutes at a time. I had to stop driving for a while. I saw five different ophthalmologists and nothing worked. I couldn't imagine the rest of my life that way. I cried all the time.
Meanwhile, my weight hovered in the underweight-but-not-scary-underweight realm for about two years. I restricted my intake to a low-but-not-scary-low amount. I was not having periods. Only until this past spring when I got food poisoning and inadvertently lost a few pounds did I go back to hardcore restricting because I figured, what the fuck does it matter? I'm going to be miserable anyway, so I might as well be skinny too.
It was hard to see myself as sick for most of the past two years, because my weight and intake were both well above my rock bottom point in late 2010. But I started having all these crazy symptoms—the nerve pain, the dry eyes, and some GI issues. I had a gut feeling that it was all related, but I guess I was just in denial and thought, like I always had, that being skinny was the answer. It was only until I saw Dr. A last week, and heard him say that of course the anorexia, the longterm amenorrhea, and the associated ongoing stress on my body caused the problems, that it really started to sink in. It wasn't a freak thing or a random gene mutation that caused my pain; it was months and years of accumulated damage.
I have much more hope now than I have in a long time, but I'm also sad. I did this to myself. I essentially wasted a year of my life being hurt and sick and so depressed I wanted to die. Dr. A assures me that the damage is reversible, and that the pain will eventually subside, which makes me happier than anything has in a long, long time. But I am also scared, because I don't know how to shed this part of myself, the anorexia, that has been my solution for so long. Forgive me if this seems dense, but it has taken this long for me to realize: anorexia makes me sick. It hurts me. I've never seen it as the enemy before, but now I do. I cannot have anorexia and be okay. My body can't take it.
Ultimately, I think recovery is going to stick for me this time. I simply can't go through this again. And I don't mean the hunger and the weakness and the ED obsessions—I can handle all that. But I can't go through the pain again. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about whether or not it was a blessing in disguise to have this happen to me, since I seem to have found the ultimate motivation for maintaining my weight. And you know what? It wasn't. I am not grateful for anything that happened. This experience didn't make me a better or stronger person or anything like that; it made me a worse person for a long time. It made me angry and bitter. I was a terrible daughter and a terrible friend. And I've only been hurt for a year. I don't know how people with true chronic pain—like with fibromyalgia or vulvodynia or sciatica—ever learn to cope. When I found myself facing a future of incurable pain, life wasn't worth living.
I've tried so goddamn hard to stay positive throughout all this and be my usual happy silly self, but there's only so much you can fake. Pain changes you; it makes you cranky and ugly and mean. I'm angry that millions of girls have anorexia without suffering through the horrible physical consequences that I have. That millions of girls can get through anorexia with nothing more than a low heart rate and some body image woes. And I'm angry that an otherwise healthy person might wake up one morning with head-to-toe pain and have his/her life changed forever. I know that it's incredibly unfair of me to be so resentful over something that none of us can control but...you know. It's my blog, right? And life isn't fair. And I am so angry.
I wouldn't wish the past year of my life on my worst enemy. But if nothing else, at least now I have full confidence that I will never relapse with my anorexia again, because I can finally see that it will only continue to hurt me.