My Friend Died of Her Eating Disorder. Here’s How It’s Affecting Me as Someone With Anorexia.
I live with an eating disorder. Since I was 13 years old, I’ve been battling anorexia and have been in and out of treatment centers. Currently, I see a psychiatrist, therapist, and nutritionist regularly to manage my eating disorder on the outpatient level, but I was in inpatient treatment again this past January through March.
Back in 2019, I went into inpatient care at an eating disorder treatment center where I met a young woman who I became very close with. We both were working extremely hard to battle our eating disorders while trying to get as healthy as possible. She was one of the sweetest and most hard-working people I had ever met, and she became a huge inspiration to me.
Unfortunately, I found out this past week this young woman passed away due to her eating disorder, and learning of her passing absolutely crushed me.
Eating disorders are so stigmatized, and people always assume those who are “sickest” with an eating disorder look and act a certain way; but that was not the case with this young woman. She fought to her very last breath to fight her eating disorder and become healthy, but her heart couldn’t take it anymore. She was on a waiting list to be admitted into an acute eating disorder treatment center when she died in her sleep a mere five days before she was to be admitted into a higher level of care.
Hearing of her death absolutely crushed me. I am still in shock that this woman who fought so hard could be taken by this terrible illness in the midst of her fight. I have never been more angry at eating disorders for taking away my friend, and her death has made me even more fearful for myself.
I have always known that eating disorders can be fatal, but my friend’s death hit so
close to home now I can’t stop thinking about the danger of these illnesses. I am terrified for myself and my own struggle with anorexia, and unfortunately, the stress has caused me to struggle with even more intense anorexia symptoms. I feel as though I am a mess, and it is so hard to try and fight my own illness when I am grieving the death of my friend.
Losing someone to an illness that you struggle with yourself can be incredibly daunting. For the past two weeks I feel like I have been having trouble functioning day to day, and I am plagued with nightly nightmares. I can’t stop thinking about my friend and the pain she experienced prior to her death. I am absolutely devastated by the loss of her. I feel like I don’t know how to keep going when I am struggling with such intense mourning that is affecting my ability to fight my illness, but I am thankful to have the support of my treatment team. I don’t know what I would do without them.
With all that being said, I know I can still mourn my friend while continuing to
fight this illness. Her death has brought me great sorrow and fear, but I also feel like I must keep fighting in her memory to get through this illness. Not a day goes by that I am not working hard to battle my anorexia, but I know that I also need to be kind to myself during this difficult time. I am so sad to have lost my friend, but her death has also urged me to fight this dangerous illness.
Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash
Hi, my name is littledaffodil. I’m here because while being high-functioning I still feel out of place with people who don’t deal with mental health.
How to help deal with the new requirement for calories on menus
The new requirement for restaurants and cafes to display calories on menus will no doubt challenge people with eating disorders — myself included, as I have personally suffered with anorexia. Here are some things to remember, which might help if you’re struggling with this.
Firstly, calories aren’t the enemy. Calories are simply units of energy, which everyone needs in order for your body to carry out its basic functions. You wouldn’t tell your younger self that you couldn’t have that cookie because it had ‘too many’ calories in it, would you? You wouldn’t make your younger self have that plain salad instead of pizza would you? So why would you now? You are still as deserving as your younger self to have full food freedom and have permission to live your life to the fullest, without a number on a flimsy menu telling you otherwise.
Secondly, for someone with an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, it may be hard to have foods that you’re scared you may not like, and it be a ‘waste of calories’. But calories aren’t a currency you spend, they’re something everyone needs to live! When you’re older, looking back on your life, don’t you want to say you made the most of it, and enjoyed it to the fullest? Don’t let a number control you. Calories aren’t money and you don’t need to ‘save’ them up, or decide what to get with them. You control food. Don’t let food control you. Because a life of food freedom, will always be better than a life listening to an eating disorder.
Lastly, calories aren’t an exact science. They’re simply an indicator of how much energy a food contains. Your body doesn’t care if it’s had X more calories than usual; it only cares that it’s getting enough fuel.
One thing I can promise you is that once you push through the hardest parts of recovery, you will not regret it. I can’t promise that things will be perfect, or that recovery will be easy. But I promise that you will find yourself again and things will be so much better than they are.
So, don’t let this new law knock you back. Get that pudding. Eat what younger you would really want. You wouldn’t tell your friends they couldn’t have something, so why would you tell yourself that? Don’t let a number on a menu get in the way of you enjoying yourself and creating memories. You’ve got this!
When Crisis is Your Default
I always wonder what it’s like to be “normal.” I’ve never experienced it. Ever since I can remember, I was riddled with anxiety, living in constant worry. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand it, and neither did my parents. I would get so anxious about going to school, even in kindergarten, I would be physically sick. I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling, so I would just tell my parents my stomach hurt and I felt sick. They chalked it up to having a kid who didn’t want to wake up early and wanted to go back to bed, and sent me to school with a “barf bag” and told me I could come home when I filled it up.
I remember in first grade, my best friend had appendecitis, and was in the hospital for about a week after her surgery. When she told me what happened (in true first grade fashion- that her appendix almost “exploded” inside her), I was consumed with the fear that mine would, too. The smallest side cramp sent me into a full blown panic that my insides were going to explode. Again, my parents just chalked it up to having a hypochondriac child. The early signs of my mental illnesses were written off, and honestly, who could blame them? I grew up in the nineties, the mental health movement wasn’t exactly booming.
Things that would send me into full blown panic earned me the labels of being dramatic, lazy, a hypochondriac. I would hoard paper under my bed and have a melt down when my mom would throw my papers away. They weren’t important- literally just scraps. But it was enough to send me into a meltdown. If my brother made a mess in our room, I would have a full blown mental break down and be so overwhelmed I would sit on the floor and scream and cry. I even had a pair of orange shorts that I would strictly only wear with the pockets turned out. God FORBID if my mom tried to tuck them in. These were all labeled as quirks.
It wasn’t until I hit middle school that things started seeming… off. I could sort of express how I was feeling, but wasn’t very educated on what it was.
I began making myself throw up every day after lunch in seventh grade. I’d leave lunch early to go to the bathroom and purge and then head to gym class like nothing happened.
By the end of my freshman year of high school, I was bestowed with a bi polar diagnosis and promptly started on medication. I went from having such violent mood swings, where I would literally go from screaming to laughing to crying to back to screaming within a half an hour, like a broken record of emotion, to being somewhat stable. I stopped purging, but instead just stopped eating almost altogether.
By the time I went to college, I received yet another diagnosis- OCD. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t flip the light switch seven times, or circle the block twice before leaving for class. And that’s when my psychiatrist explained that that wasn’t what OCD really was. It was “ anxiety on crack.” Once I learned the ins and outs of the illness, everything clicked. It felt like my whole life was put into perspective. The fear of leaving the house, the constant worry about my health and my parents health (even though we were all relatively healthy), even down to the orange shorts with the pockets turned out. All I’d ever known was anxiety, I just… didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know that’s not how everyone felt all the time.
By my sophomore year of college, the anorexia got out of hand and I was slapped with an official diagnosis for that, as well. I was 5"3 and down to 90lbs, give or take. My period had completely stopped, my hair started to fall out, my teeth had began to deteriorate. And I wasn’t doing it to be skinny-I was doing it to be in control. Just to be in control of something, because my life had always been a constant state of crisis and chaos. I couldn’t control my moods or my thoughts, and a lot of times, even my impulses, but I could control what I ate. Now, six years later, I look back at pictures of me and my friends and I don’t recognize myself. I distinctly remember thinking I was a little chubby, but in reality I was so tiny you could make out my bones. I would wear baggy clothes to hide my “chub” but really just looked like a sickly toddler swimming in a man’s XL t -shirt.
And then, I just started to get better. I was getting professional medical help, I was in therapy, and I was on a solid medication regiment. I had a wonderful support system between my friends, family, and professors. And honestly, college was the best time of my life. Not because of the parties, or the flings, or the fresh taste of freedom. It was so great because I was able to heal. I was able to be genuinely happy and relatively care free. It was like I was reborn. I went from a constant state of flight or fight, constantly worrying about what would go wrong, to enjoying life and truly finding who I was when the illnesses weren’t taking over. And I loved her. She was smart and funny and kind.
I’m twenty-seven now. I lost my job about a year ago, and I just got medical insurance back this month. Im starting my medications again. And in the past year, I regressed a lot. Things are still bad. But I’m looking forward to healing, once again, and finding that girl who had a passion for life.
These past months have been so hard, I feel like giving up on everything and I keep having suicidal thoughts. It scares me so much. It’s also hard to eat (I used to have anorexia nervosa).
I haven’t been able to see my therapist because I’m scared I’m just going to blow up. I have a school exam next month and I can’t afford breaking down more than this.
I feel the desperate need for someone to take care of me, but my most, huge desire is to be more independent and more like my own person, functional enough to act on my life. I’m scared of being the one that is supposed to get help. But I don’t know how to be a real person. #Therapy #Depression #SuicidalThoughts #AnorexiaNervosa
Originally published at https://themighty.com on June 28, 2022.