Six years ago today, I remember wanting to die.
It was 2.30am and I was sitting in my bedroom, too wired on my 4th Diet Red Bull for the day to go to sleep. I’d relapsed and I felt just awful. I hadn’t eaten. I’d thrown up what little calories I’d consumed. I couldn’t stop dragging those damn blue rusty scales out from under my bed. They were taunting me; they wanted to be seen and used.
It felt so bad to feel myself crawling right back into the eating disorder that I’d been fighting so hard to pull myself away from… but at the same time, I almost relished the struggle. The torment was a level of discontent that I was used to, and I found solace in that.
Did I deserve it? Maybe I was defined by it? After all, I’d only been trying to get my mental health back on track for all of 3 months before it felt like I wasn’t strong enough not to slip back again.
I felt that familiar sense of faux-control coming back; felt the corners of my mouth turning upwards as my stomach growled relentlessly; delighted at the marvel of my disorder morphing from the expected into something new as I tried to wipe the vomit from my hair. I didn’t want to fall back into the arms of an illness, but I was just too damn tired to fight it. I’d tried so hard, and I was failing.
“I’m a failure, I’m a failure, I’m a failure,” I told myself.
I sat at the end of my bed, naked; the glow of my laptop screen shining on my tired and worn out face. I told myself that it was my fault for daring to rebuild my self-esteem when I perhaps wasn’t “worthy”; for allowing myself to be ridiculed for the body that I’d been trying so desperately to get back to a healthy place.
I wanted to opt-out of life for a while and just descend into a void of nothingness where I didn’t have to try anymore. I didn’t understand that my disorder wasn’t, in fact, a choice – but the result of a series of complex neurobiological factors in the way that the brain processes appetite hormones. I was convinced that I’d brought it upon myself. I didn’t sleep that night – that week, if I’m honest. But despite it, somehow, I kept going. I got out of bed in the morning, and life carried on.
Whether or not I tried to recover or let myself slip away, life kept going. And it would continue to keep going, with or without me.
I needed to make sure that life kept going, with me in it.
- * * * *
I sit here right now, 6 years on, in a completely different place – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Somewhere along the way, I found my hope.
And it didn’t come from the arms of a partner, from the external validation that I so desperately sought or from keeping myself locked in a torturous and dangerous relationship within my own body.
The hope came from myself. My insatiable desire to know, love, and embrace myself, even when it felt like I couldn’t ever have a positive relationship with my body.
If you’d told me back then that, in 6 years time, I’d be happy, full of self-love and body confidence, accepting, learning (and occasionally failing) and trying, helping others…. I would’ve cried in disbelief. That vision was exactly what I wanted for myself.
Actually, I’m crying right now as I write this. Because the very hope that kept me going is the place that I’m in right now. The place that I worked so damn hard to get to, and the place that I’ll continue to work hard to stay in, and grow in, forever.
The place that I dedicate my life to helping others get to, as well.
Healing happens. Recovery is possible. And no matter what’s going on or what you’ve convinced yourself of, you are always worthy of loving yourself.