A Letter To My Eating Disorder

To ED my enemy,

As I write this I am filled with a concoction of contradicting emotions; I am angry ED, angry that you put me through hell and let me believe it was going to make me happy. I’m filled with regret at the years I lost counting calories, grams of fat, and steps walked when I could have been living a life filled with so much more. More than anything else I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude; ED, I’m grateful that I can sit here with my life stretched in front of me writing this letter to you because it shows that I will win. I am here, alive and fighting when your only mission was to lead me to my grave. I am grateful ED that today I write a letter of clarity when one year ago I was writing a letter to my family of goodbyes; you had put me through years of agony, turned my own mind into a war field and transformed each day into a living hell. A year ago I thought you’d win. I believed the lies you’d fed me since I was a child, I believed that I was incurable, unlovable and worthless but today I know differently. I will win; I am worth more than the pounds I’ve lost or the food I eat. I am not incurable- each day I fight against the beliefs you’ve engrained is another step closer to a life without you. I am not unlovable- I turned into a different person when I was in your grasps; I was angry, anxious, deceptive and manipulative because you made me believe that I wasn’t worth love yet each day I find out who I really am and I learn that love is based on what size of jeans I wear, the circumference of my thighs or the number on the scale- I am more than you ever let me believe.

I was nine years old when you introduced yourself. After relentless bullying from my class at school I was left feeling isolated and alone and you used that. How could I have known so young the pain you were about to inflict? ED you are a liar. You lied when you told me that I would be happy if I only lost ten pounds. At nine I was vulnerable and naive and you used me, I clasped at your commands for safety constantly seeking the perfection I thought would lie at XXkg. At nine I swapped pizza with friends, sleepovers and shopping trips for hours lent over a toilet bowl trying to rid myself of the food you convinced me I didn’t deserve. I was too young to know that the world offers positive role models and that I was entitled to be nothing more than who I already was so instead I listened eagerly to your commands. “Fat”, “disgusting”, “worthless”…Should this be how a little girl should think? ED, each day I struggle to contemplate how you could be so cruel. How you could make a child feel as though she was worth nothing.

I was never good enough for you. A momentary burst of satisfaction having lost 5 pounds was so harshly interrupted by your voice- “You’re still fat. You won’t be happy until you’ve lost ten more”. Each time I ran a mile or skipped a meal you’d congratulate me but it was never enough to satisfy you. You made illness a competition; I starved myself until I was weak and tired yet you told me that I didn’t have a problem because I was still fat. When my throat was raw and sore from hours spent binging and purging you told me I was nothing more than a failure. Life dictated by you was miserable and yet you still convinced me that I would be happy soon, just ten more pounds. What about when I couldn’t lose ten more pounds? When my organs started shutting down and my brain was too poisoned by you to continue? I will never forgive you for what you did then; you convinced me that I no longer was worthy of life. You made each day so painful that I sought the only escape I could see, death.

When you first came into my life you promised me happiness, focus and contentment yet the years that followed were filled with hospital admissions, NG tubes, IV drips and misery. When my friends ask me what I’ve been up to since I left school I force a smile and say “I wasn’t well, but I’m fine now”. How could I tell them the truth? How could I tell them that I spent two years in hospital because I couldn’t contemplate feeding myself or that I spent months with someone watching me use the toilet because I was too unsafe to be left alone? You stripped away my dignity, my honesty and my relationships.

You told me that I deserved punishment and pain yet years from now I am going to have to shield my children from the truth behind the scars that you left on my arms. Even when (not if) I beat you ED, I will still have to live with the reminders of years spent fighting an internal battle. Each time I look at my arms I am reminded of the pain you caused to me and those I love.

You’re manipulative and destructive. When I was listening to you I didn’t see the destruction we were causing to those around me. I hate the person you made me become; I spat venomous words at those I loved, convinced that they couldn’t possibly understand. You made me selfish, spiteful and deceitful and as I rebuild my health I am learning how damaging it was to have you in the drivers seat. My parents listened as I screamed at them, they watched as I starved myself to hospitalisation and they lay awake at night hoping I’d still be alive in the morning. I wasn’t in control then, but I am now. I vow to never let you cause that much pain and suffering again; each day I fight against you I also fight for a life where my parents have their daughter safe and happy, where my brother no longer feels responsible for his older sister and where my actions reflect the morals I was brought up with not the deceit you feed me.

The more time I spent with you the more I sacrificed. My life revolved around calories, self deprivation and isolation and with that I lost the things I care about the most. You lied when you told me I would be more successful thin- you told me this lie before I had even turned 10, yet now at eighteen I’ve spent years in hospital beds and therapy sessions instead of classrooms. I had so much potential Anorexia but how could I fulfil it when my body felt weak and my mind was filled with solely the sound of your voice. This is not the end though, you took away years of school and education but I’m fighting back. I am determined to make you my past and to dictate my OWN future. You told me that lighter I was the faster I’d ski or the quicker I’d run but you neglected to mention that you’d turn sport into a calorie burning regime and strip the enjoyment from something I was so passionate about. When you told me that being thinner meant I’d be better, you didn’t tell me that aching running on nothing more than 300 calories and the screams of your commands willing me forward would end up with me in a cardiac ward. When you said that I didn’t “need” food you didn’t tell me that skiing down mountains on a diet of cuppa soups and black coffee would make me feel as though I was going to collapse.

Over the years I’ve believed your lies too many times, to me each lie became fact but as I move out of your command I am starting to see that your aim was never to make me “perfect”, “successful” or “loved”, you sought only to isolate, weaken and eventually kill me.

I could write realms of words to describe the anger I feel towards years lost to a monster that could never be satisfied but instead I will promise you one thing. ED I promise you that I will win. I promise that no matter how loud you scream, how much you try to pull me back or tempt me into seeming security, I will beat you.

I conclude this letter simply be serving you with your eviction notice; please pack up all the damage you have left, leave my mind in a respectable condition and move out of my mind and out of my life.

Yours sincerely,

Lauren A Houston

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