The Hardest Thing

I know the pain and heartache involved in fighting an eating disorder, I know how exhausting it is. I know how tiring it can be to face one of your greatest fears – food, and to attempt to push through that fear because, quite frankly, it’s life or death. What I didn’t know, however, was how hard and heartbreaking it would be to fight an eating disorder from the outside. To sit, looking into the pleading eyes of the hostage of an eating disorder and beg with her to do what it would take to potentially save her life.

“I know how hard it is, sweetheart, but please, please put the tube in your mouth. All it’s going to do is help you think better.” She looks at me, and with a voice both weak, but full of venom at the same time spit out two small words; “I’m. Fine.” She tells me. Legs bouncing against the foot plates of the wheel chair and her tiny, clammy hands clasped around the tube of glucose, she looks me in the eye. One pleading look before her eyes glaze over and it’s like she’s not even there, an empty shell. Repeating her name and pinching the space between her finger and thumb, I repeat my statement until she hears me. “You need this, honey, you need it to live. If you don’t have this you’re going to have a seizure, end up unconscious and they’ll give it to you in an IV. You’ve got the control now to eat it, if you don’t, they’re going to take that control away from you.” She blinks slowly, “Sorry?”. She hadn’t heard a word I said. It broke my heart to sit and try so hard to get her to eat the glucose, to see her so scared, so vulnerable and so overwhelmed by her illness. Confronted to be fighting the same illness I fight inwardly on a daily basis, wanting to scream at the eating disorder to shut the fuck up so I could get through to my friend, my big sister, to tell it to let her go, to give our beautiful girl a break so we could save her life. Wanting to do anything I could to take that pain away from her. N and I both at a loss, both worried. I couldn’t be any more thankful to have had N there with me to help our friend, to have had someone else who understands, to help talk to her, to try to get her to work with us. To help talk her into going to emergency, to try to get past ED and through to our friend.

It broke my heart moreso knowing that if our roles were reversed, the situation wouldn’t be much different. I absolutely hated sitting there getting angry at her for not doing what she needed to do to keep herself alive, but at the same time thinking to myself that I was the biggest hypocrite in the world. It killed me to see what this illness does, as an outsider fighting for someone who’s been like a big sister, getting angry with her, getting frustrated, telling the nurse to just “give her a fucking IV, ’cause she’s not going to eat this!” because I was at a loss as to what else to do. It terrified me to be standing against her bed, calling her name over and over, pinching and rubbing her arms to get her to come back to us so the nurse could do a proper assessment. Two hours and a bag of fluids later, you wouldn’t even know that the quick witted, laughing, smiling young lady in front of you was the same person.

It’s times like that make me realise how quickly these illnesses can take hold of a persons life. It makes me furious that this illness has taken away so much from so many. And times like this that make me thankful that I have so much support. I’m terrified of what this illness is doing to me and continues to do to me. I’m terrified that Ursula is so loud and intrusive today. I HATE that she’s got so much power. She doesn’t have the right to be running my life the way she is.

I know that there is never going to be an easy part of recovery, there’s never going to be anything that ‘just works’, it’s going to take hard work and commitment, it’s going to make me want to scream and cry and yell and run away, but it’s those times that I need to put in the most work and take the most from those experiences. It’s the times when I don’t want to do it any more, that I need to fight the hardest.

Never, ever stop fighting. You’re not alone, and you’re worthy of recovery.

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6 thoughts on “The Hardest Thing

  1. Wow, this is chilling. It reminds me of interactions between myself and my parents several years ago. Another victim of the eating disorder was my younger sister. She wasn’t the one with the ED or the one struggling to make me better, but she witnessed everything and didn’t receive any help or much emotional support at all. I will never stop feeling guilty for this.

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