11PM, 09/10. YOU HAVE ONE NEW MESSAGE: "Fine then. You'll have no one." The truth is that text wasn't truthful at all; at that time, I already had no one.
That was two weeks into the start of boarding school, one week before I was sectioned and force fed. That was the height of my eating disorder.
My relationship with my parents was strained, my family distant, my friends hostile and support services, well frankly, non existent.
But why I am telling you this? Well because relationships are fundamental to us as people but also because relationships are fundamental to the stalemate of an eating disorder and also the recovery from one. An eating disorder thrives on the power it presents an individual with, it also thrives on the divide of power within a family when one member is seriously ill.
Think about it, who have you lost since all this mess began? Friends, family, colleagues, lovers...
What did you gain through such loss? A broken body, a failing heart, an empty soul, an angry mind...
And was it worth it?
See, once taken apart and its core revealed, an eating disorder really makes no sense at all. That is not to say it's not logical, I believe the reason we fall prey to it is because it is so logical - take for instance the idea of invisibility that an eating disorder presents; you think to yourself, if I can just become small enough then perhaps I'll fade slightly, perhaps no one will notice me at all. Or the frightening process of growing up; you think, if I can just stay small then everything will be okay. And for a while it works, at least the latter certainly does in the case of anorexia as your body stalls or reverses and all the physical changes of growing up halt. But in the long run, we see that an eating disorder makes no sense because it makes you stand out. Not a quality most sufferers are aiming for. If you become terribly underweight or you run to the bathroom after each meal and you keep those behaviours and physical appearances up for long enough then someone is bound to notice.
That's when the whispers start, the corridor gossip, the worried glances and your replies of "I'm fine, don't worry."
No one believes. No one trusts.
Once found out, an eating disorder causes walls to grow and bridges to crumble. I can remember vividly being implored by my parents to explain why I wouldn't eat. And my response was sullen silence followed by hysterical crying that "I just wanted to be thin." That's not a relationship. That's torture.
But these walls we build and these bridges we break, they do not have to stay as they are. Our state is movable, our relationships changeable. You can get better.
And honestly, after all is said and done, I think the relationships you rebuild during recovery and once you are better are perhaps some of the strongest and the best you will ever share. Because once someone has seen you at your lowest and not completely left you, then what else is there left to test or say? That is not to say that those who stand by you might not have drifted, in fact having seen the depths some eating disorders take people, I don't blame anyone for running to the hills at the first sign of trouble. But we can't do this on our own, no matter how proud we are or how independent we want to be if we don't let people in at our worst then how can we expect them to stay with us for our best. We need family and friends. We need them because we are human and because together we have the ability to overcomes monsters, ghosts and mental illnesses.
Lots of love,
Jo x xx