For those new to my blog, I’m a recovering anorexic. My anorexia with eating has transitioned over this year into an anorexia with athleticism. If you ask me (and my therapist concurs), it’s a far less shitty condition. I can eat without panic (though I’m still meticulous) about 2200 calories a day (in February of this year, 800 was a good day) and, frankly, if you’re going to have a debilitating mental illness, one that gets you in shape has got to be the pick of the litter. But it’s still something I must manage to keep it from spiraling out of control.
One of my confidants during the ordeal with my relapse this year has been Greta Christina, who always asks me when it will be enough. At what point do I say, “You know what? I’m happy with my body looking the way it is”? The answer is always that I don’t know, I just know that I’m not there. I’m aware of the inadequacy of that answer. I’m also aware that, because I’m sick, that answer can be dangerous. ‘I don’t know’ may very well be synonymous with never, and that’s something to worry about.
But in this last week I’ve noticed a change. For as long as I’ve been working out, I’ve always wanted to hurt. The more agony I felt from a workout, the healthier I felt psychologically – which is what made it difficult to stop working out. My most chipper days have been the days when I vomited after a workout. Let me tell you how odd it is being cognizant of how fucked up that is but still being so bound by the reprieve from my psychological demons that I’ll push my body harder anyway. I am grateful for friends who monitor me to protect me from myself.
This is what it means to have a mental illness. It means knowing that your capacity for reason on the issue is corrupted. It means admitting that you have to trust your well-being to the decision-making capabilities of others, because you cannot trust yourself. It means managing your condition by trying to reason around your own mind.
But lately I am able to stop before I’m on the ground on the verge of throwing up and be perfectly content. I am slowly developing a comfort with my body and realizing that I don’t need to be a model to live happily within my own skin. It feels wonderful. It feels free. It feels like…being me.
I’m not well yet, not by any means. This is not the type of thing that ever goes away completely, so we do not celebrate victory over the monster. Instead, we celebrate progress and this, most assuredly, is progress. Perhaps, though, I’m closing in on being as well as I can get. I’ve fought with this for so long that I’m reticent to allow myself that hope, but this is different than it ever has been, and it’s hard not to let myself dream a little bit. It makes me tear up to know that I can finally start to say this to Greta and all the other people who have been patient, suffered my insanity, and have pulled for me. I want to be well for them just as much as for myself.