The letter I have never delivered
Monday, Jan 18 2010
I wrote a letter to my parents one day after being starred at for eating copious amounts of meat… I was frustrated and needed to vent. I had full intention on handing over the letter but I never did… thoughts?
Mom and Dad:
The last couple of years have been the most confusing and difficult years of my life and at the same time the most precious and cherishing. I want you to understand a few things about anorexia and me. Recovery is hard. It is hard as hell. It is hard every day. There are some good days and there are some bad days. There are some fat days and there are some normal days. I do not tend to share much of any of it with anyone, let alone you guys. I can’t open up about it. I don’t want to nor do I feel I need to. But I want to let you know this is so very hard. I do not tell you everything, but I also no longer lie to you- I hope you know this. I have also put on close to 25lbs from my lowest weight. This is remarkable, especially considering I took recovery into my own hands. There are a few things I would like to say here that I need y’all to understand.
There is an overwhelming power in anorexia. It is a horrendous, scary, life threatening disease, and I know this. It has this power over my actions my thoughts and my body. I feel like an addicted crack head sometimes because the disease sucks me in so deep at times. It is going to take time, a long time to overcome such an illness. What I do not think you and dad realize is that anorexia is a psychological and biological mental illness. I am positive one of you has probably googled basic anorexia and have seen the facts. You know to an extent what it is, but I do not think you understand. Most studies and most research based studying on anorexia is showing it’s biological component and genetic link to the disease.
The current report, noted abnormalities in areas of the brain that are associated with bodily sensations, including getting pleasure from food. One of the affected brain areas is called the anterior insula, which plays a critical role in how people are aware of their internal body signals. A short-circuit in this area may be a contributing cause of anorexia. The imaging studies suggest that people who have anorexia also have an imbalance in brain circuitry that regulates emotions and rewards. This coincides with the tendency for people with anorexia to have difficulty experiencing pleasure, to have worry excessively about the consequences of their actions, and to be perfectionists. It IS a mental illness, meaning it is a biologically-based disease. Not because of the physical ravages of malnutrition, bingeing or purging that the patient has chosen to do– but because something is wrong with brain function.
The entire field of study is confused by the disease simply because they can’t cure it, nor find effective treatments. Eighty-six percent of “recoverees” relapse. Obviously, the conventional wisdom on anorexia is wrong and ineffective. I do not want to be in that percent and I expect to be in the 14% who flourish in life. I can always see you staring at my food, my body, and eyeing me every time I eat. I know you guys care about me, love me and that is unconditional. But I know you worry and are scared at the same time- I am too. Everything unpredictable about my future scares the hell out of me. You have no idea what it is like to be self destructing to your body, to deal with 3 years of shameful, selfish, depressive non-existence or to starve yourself to enjoy the pain and suffering you inflict upon yourself. Everything about the rasp of anorexia is calming. Everything about the high energy, the repetitive thought, and the starving is all about control to calm down my head.
Do not think for a second that you know more about this than I do or that you have ‘one up on’ me. I have researched mental disease, anorexia, and nutrition for more hours than I care to remember. I also write about my experiences and journal online at a forum where I get much needed support day in and day out. Many of these people understand the torment I go through everyday. Many also have no clue, but support me regardless and inflict much needed confidence. I can relate to them and I desperately want recovery. I want to help others, which puts more influence and passion into my own recovery. I can see the annoyance in you and I need you to know that a carefree attitude of “normal eating” is not going to happen. It is not in the future or on the horizon. It is simply not possible with anorexia, and this disease does not just go away despite what you may think. I want you to let me live my life on my own, by my own rules, and allow me to go out and blossom. This is part of my recovery.
I need to be trusted and trust myself I will get better with time. I need not to be judged and commented about. What you may think is just blowing off steam, eating ridiculously and having rituals is nothing in the grand scheme of things. You set me back 3 steps when you do things like that. Keep your comments to yourself. I end up acting like a fool and starving when I get antsy and uncomfortable in front of people who feel the need to ‘joke’ or be rude to me about all this. Recovery takes years, and years, and years. Small things you don’t see or notice happen, and it is huge to me. It does not just vanish like with a z-pack for the flu. Whether you trust me or not I will get my independence and will live my life how I deem I am capable of doing. Leaving home scares the hell out of me, but I need to do it. I need to make myself trust my mind and body. Will I fall back? Probably, for a short period, but I will regain my strength and build up my confidence and get on with life.
Do not come at me with an argument, I will become angry and defensive ten ways to Sunday. I use to tell myself this family would look a hell of a lot better with me not in it, not being a burden and not around. Do you know what it is like to live when everything you do feels like a burden? When your mental disease is running your every action and thought? I am not trying at all to make you guys feel bad. That is not my intention and if you think I am trying to get under your skin and annoy you then I further believe that you again do not understand anorexia and the reality of it. I can’t make you feel what I feel, I can’t let you live what I live, but I can attempt to describe how much of a hellish nightmare anorexia and the fight for recovery is. When life is stressful and hard, I revert back to comfortable habits. I don’t do well with change and choices that encompass unpredicted outcomes. It overwhelms me. Anorexia does not overwhelm me, it is very predictable and I am constantly reminded just how close and nonjudgmental the disease is to me. Is it intolerable to me that anorexia can torment me as it does and make me sick and fearful at even the thought of the food. It teams up with guilt, pleasure and shamefulness.
On many occasions this disease has practically taken my life, and in past years it has taken any spirit I once had. I do want you to understand that the girl I “use to be” does not exist anymore, and she isn’t coming back. I can’t backtrack my past and re-do everything I fucked up. You need to accept me now while I learn and adventure to accept myself. I can’t let the annoyances of life get to me either. I hate more than anything watching people diet- it scares the living hell out of me. I hate seeing someone or hearing of someone who succumbs to this disease and are living the days of depression and obsessiveness I once lived. It is all addictive and compulsive. It is anything but about weight, size and food. Please, if you get one thing out of this, understand anorexia is not about those three things. I dieted, I became obsessive, but along the beaten path I came to the conclusion that exercise and body fat and equivalent to failure, weakness, letdown and disappointment. Along the way I learned and was confident in the fact that I could control one area of my life while the rest seemed to be going no where. I became addicted to perfecting myself in a sick and unhealthy manner. I eventually thought I would be better of simply vanishing, disappearing so no one would have to deal with me.
If there is anything you can do, stop the food starring, stop the food comments, and stop trying to make food look like this wonderful force fed part of my life. Learn to deal with me and accept that I am not your typical person. I will not ever be. I also won’t be the girl I use to be, who I know you hope and pray will come back- she’s not. I have a disease and it isn’t going away. I would love to believe that a mental illness simply vanishes with “recovery” but that is so far from the truth. Don’t tell me how good certain foods are- I know they are fucking good. That causes so much upheaval in my brain it’s not even funny. I immediately want to restrict and fall into old habits. ALL I WANT from you is support. I want nothing but support. Know that I am trying, know this is hell, know this is hard, but know that I am doing my God damned best. That is all you can do and all I want you to do. You can’t change me or anything about me so don’t try, but accept. Please accept and support me. I do not plan to be like I am forever but it is going to take time and a lot of it to dig out of the grave anorexia made for me. Six feet under is a long way to climb up. Sometimes I feel suffocated and stuck in the coffin, like I will never get better and I get frustrated and want to quit, falling back to old behaviors. But I can and will accomplish it- I am strong enough and I believe in myself. Anorexia left me with isolation, solidarity, depression, obsessive compulsive thought and behavior, and counting. SO. MUCH. COUNTING. It took and ripped the soul I had, the glow I had, the charm I once possessed and almost my life right out of me.
I want you there in support for this. It is all I need. I want you to understand not what I am going through, but to understand the capabilities and reality of the mental disease.