Sometimes I feel like I will never recover completely. Sometimes I feel like I've recovered all I can, that I'm as "better" as I'll ever be. And then something comes along to remind me how complicated this process is.
I only know how far I've come when I consider how sick I used to be. tomorrow is August 1st, 2010. My eating disorder started to emerge in 2004 (though I would argue I had eating-disordered thoughts since I was 8 years old. I just never acted on them). Here's a look back at each August 1st of the last 6 years, starting with when it all began.
August 1st, 2004: I was at the heaviest weight of my life. My dad had been dead a little more than a year. I was depressed. I was vulnerable. I was miserable. I went on a diet because I refused to go up another pants size. I cut out bread. Then I cut out cheese, switched regular soda for diet. I started losing weight quickly. This is where things went terribly wrong. This is where I realized the voice in my head wasn't my own. I made the mistake of listening when it told me it was okay not to eat.
August 1st, 2005: Anorexia had taken over. I had lost so much weight no one recognized me. I was living on campus and going home to stay with my mother on the weekends. I would eat dinner Sunday night at my mom's house, and I wouldn't eat anything until the following Friday night when I made it back. All week at school I drank water and diet soda. If I ate anything, it was lettuce. Or an apple. Or some crackers. I was buying new clothes every week because I was losing weight so quickly. All of my hair was falling out. I stopped getting my period. I thought that I was happy. That's because I didn't want out yet, and I was still stupid enough to think that I had it all under control and could stop whenever I wanted, on my own terms.
August 1st, 2006: I was living at home with my mother and working at the hospital. This was before we lost our house. I was in college, but I was so sick I had moved off campus and back to my hometown. I took two classes online. I didn't eat at all. What I did eat, I threw up immediately. Bulimia was at its worst. I was throwing up 8 times a day everyday. Sometimes I threw up just water. I threw up until I cried. I threw up until I was hoarse. I was miserable and depressed. I wanted to die. My mother came home from work everyday expecting to find me dead. I was seeing doctors and throwing up in hospital bathrooms.
August 1st, 2007: I was still an undergrad and back in school full time, living in an apartment on campus. I was still throwing up, though probably 5 times a day instead of 8. I worked out at least twice a day. I counted calories. I lived with a roommate who didn't care or notice if or what I ate. Sometimes I still didn't eat for days. I started seeing the boyfriend I have now. He lectured me on the importance of food. We fell in love. My mom lost our house.
August 1st, 2008: I moved to Las Vegas with my boyfriend and had lived there for three months. I didn't eat much and I was throwing up at least once a day. I was going to the gym a lot. I weighed less than I weigh now. My boyfriend and I fought all the time.
August 1st, 2009: I was still living in Las Vegas. I wasn't throwing up anymore, but I wasn't eating "regularly." I was a waitress inside the Palazzo. I never ate lunch. If rarely ate breakfast. When I did, it was something simple like a banana. I ate dinner everyday, mostly because my boyfriend made me.
August 1st, 2010: I eat daily. I try to eat three meals a day, though sometimes it's only two. I don't throw up at all. It doesn't mean I don't want to. It doesn't mean I don't think about it, but my mind is strong enough to tell the truth from the lies. I know which voice to listen to, and for the most part, I choose correctly. I am not better, but I am getting there. Let's be cliche-- I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is a way out. I see it.