What is it like to have anorexia?

You wake up, and you forget.  For one blissful moment there is nothing but quiet, peace, and calm.  Your mind feels blank and your brain empty in the very best way. And then suddenly, it all comes rushing back, and that peaceful moment is abruptly shattered by the demons you must battle everyday.

You swing yourself up off your bed and climb out of the warm cocoon you had immersed yourself in the night before.  Instantly you are freezing, you look down to see your bare toes a slight blue and grab for your fuzzy sweatshirt and warm socks, pulling them on for momentary relief.  The cold is relentless though, it seems to reach down into your very soul.

Another day has begun and the hours stretch out before you menacingly.  Instead of enjoying a nice cup of hot coffee with creamer and a satisfying breakfast you slip into your running shoes and throw your hair into a ponytail.  Just a four mile run, you tell yourself, then you’ll allow time for an adequate breakfast. It is a lie, and you know it, but you want to believe it. So, despite the doctor’s orders of a strict no exercise schedule, you slip out the door in the freezing cold and your feet hit the pavement running.

Running.  It used to give you such pleasure.  Now, it is an activity performed only to relieve the guilt in your head, and quiet the shouting demons.  You struggle through the four miles, pushing yourself harder with each passing minute. You feel weak and frail yet you continue, telling yourself, “This is healthy.  This is exercise.”

You return to your house without anyone noticing you were gone and quickly splash water on your face to calm the redness and hide the signs of perspiration.  You relish in the momentary relief the workout has given you, knowing that the elation will quickly fade as the day goes on. You head to the kitchen for a cup of hot, black coffee, the only real luxury you allow yourself.  If you’re lucky, you grab an apple to go but there is no telling if you will gather the determination to eat that.

You head to your first class of the day, brain foggy and legs failing, determined to just get through another Monday.  And why do you feel the need to punish yourself in this way? What have you done to deserve this treatment? The answers elude you but you press on regardless.  It is an endless cycle of exercise and restriction, of pushing through the hours only to begin again the next day. At some point, this cycle needs to stop. At some point, your mind and body will not be able to handle it anymore.  At some point you might realize, what am I doing this for?

I always thought I was invincible, that my body could endure anything.  The first step in recovery is learning that this is so unbelievably false.  It turns out, my body needs nourishment just like anyone else.

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