Christmas when I was 14-16 were spent refusing treats and chocolates, only getting a fleeting happiness when I could fit into a pair of size eight jeans. Between Christmas and New Year 2003 I tried to kill myself. Christmas at 17 was one of those trying to be normal, putting a brave face on, trying to recover times. Christmas at 18 and I was on 'release' from an eating disorder unit after the worst bout of anorexia I've suffered from, anxiety etched on my parents faces, constant panic, torn between wanting to throw myself into the festive spirit and absolute terror of being out of that safe and controlled enviroment. I knew that if I gained weight whilst I was away I would have no one but myself to blame and that was absolutley unthinkable back then. Christmas at 19 and the years of starvation had caught up with me and I couldn't stop eating everything in sight, boxes of chocolates and biscuits littered around the house didn't help and my weight soared and soared. I spent most of the day on my own, my parents went out for dinner and I stayed behind, the thought of a meal out still paralysed me with fear. Christmas at 20 and I was back 'in recovery' after a pretty bad relapse, shouting at everybody not to buy me food or clothes and Christmas last year I was sick again, planning how I could bp and get away with it, throwin up my Christmas dinner in my sisters bathroom and spending far too much time checking the scales for the slightest change.
That's eight Christmases completely taken over by thoughts of food and weight, Christmases stolen by fear. Eight years of my life lost in the blink of an eye, Fuzzy memories, distorted photos, guilt, shame, anger, denial, terror and rage. I'm twenty two years old for fucksake and nearly half of my life has been consumed by calories and fat and mirrors and scales and a square inch of fabric sewn in the back of my jeans. Well, fuck that!
You have to built your life back out of this trainwreck and it hurts, fuck does it hurt, to have no idea who the Hell you are anymore because it feels like your only identity is being the thin one, the sick one, the 'special one'. Well, let me tell you something, I know who I am again outside of those bullshit lies. This Christmas I can say that I'm at university studying something I truly love instead of saying I don't work or I've been ill or blushing furiously and running away to eat and puke all of my nieces and nephews selection boxes. I am a young, incredibly passionate women who has bigger things to think about, bigger things to talk about than losing weight.
It's not eay being a trainwreck; parts of you are exposed and vulnerable and things get in the cracks that you don't always know how to deal with and it's terribly difficult walking around with a smile on your face trying to be BETTER and HAPPY and SORTED but y'know what else do you do? Sit around and cry about it, feeding on the nostalgia herorin of how good it felt when you weighed 100lbs, how good it felt when you were so hungry you couldn't even feel it, how good it felt when you were dying!? Because that's the alternative and from where I'm standing it doesn't seem all that appealing. Nothing is as bad as you remember it and nothing is ever good enough so why play the fucking game?
Why not have the strength and the energy to go out and drink all night and walk home without your shoes on. Or to queue outside on a freezing pavement all day and then stand up all night with three thousand bodies pressing against you whilst watching the songs that changed your life come alive in front of your eyes. Whatever it is that makes you happy, truly happy, isn't going to be found on the nutritional infomation of a packet of crackers or at the bottom of a toilet.
I guess I'm writing this to say that it is possible, that you can start to build a bridge between you and the ED and you and the rest of your life and that you can start crossing it. It's hard and it hurts and it all goes terribly wrong sometimes and you forget why you're putting yourself through this Hell, why you're bothering to fight day after day when it's always there, creeping round your neck, whispering in your ear, all the temptation and nostalgia and sheer preassure of life stacking up on you.
I never thought that I would be able to sit here and say that striving to be a better person, a healthier person, is more important to me than striving to be a skinny person, a sick person. But this year, after all the years of misery and failure and unfulfilment, I think I'm ready to say it and mean it.