Its been a long time since I’ve posted, but I’m still alive and well. I wrote this letter to submit to Thought Catalog, but it was never published, so I shall grace my personal blog with my subpar essay! My reasoning behind writing this “Open Letter” was to give those unaffected by Eating Disorders insight into what it’s like to live with one. Though in my opinion it’s an uncomfortable essay, I hope it helps readers understand the illness that I, and so many others, live with everyday.
My Dearest Friend and Cruelest Enemy,
I never believed that we would meet when I learned about you in Sophomore Health class. I never considered that an intangible monster could destroy my carefree teenage years, or that my life may actually be threatened by dark thoughts growing rampantly through my mind. It started slowly; we were nothing more than acquaintances, and our encounters were fleeting. Soon however, I began to seek your company, as my life seemed to slowly fall apart. Classes were getting more difficult, SATs were looming, and the pressure of college applications fell heavily upon my shoulders, but you were there, and you promised to lighten my load. I listened to your advice to take control of my life in any way possible; you convinced me to calculate calories, skip meals, and allow my happiness to hinge on the proximity to my goal weight. The funny part is that I actually believed you would make me happy.
You soon became possessive and jealous, only allowing me to spend time with people that wouldn’t diminish your control over me. Old friends became distant, practically nonexistent compared to you. My family commented on how withdrawn and irritable I had become, but I knew it was all worth it to be in control, just like you promised. You and I bantered back and forth nearly ever moment of the day, from morning to night you quizzed me on nutrition facts, BMI statistics, and excuses to skip meals. I was dwindling; my body was wasting away, and still your persistent screams pushed me further. The people around me begged for me to cut you loose, but I refused to allow myself to fail you. However you, my dear friend, were failing me.
My grades were slipping as I was unable to focus on anything but starving, my friends were becoming impatient with my stubborn infatuation with you, and my body was becoming tired of sustaining my life with no fuel. Unfortunately for our relationship, a breaking point was nearby. My body forced you to release your grasp on my life, and my doctors, therapists, and support system were waiting to help repair the shell of a girl you left behind.
I lost so much more than weight with you; I lost all spontaneity, you robbed me of my peace of mind, and trampled my self-esteem. Only retrospectively can I see the abusive relationship we shared. You stole my happiness, and for a long time I truly believed it was gone for good, but now I know better. So my dear frienemy, I want to thank you. Thank you for presenting me with an obstacle to overcome, for now I have gained wisdom through adversity. Thank you for isolating me from all who loved me, for now I know that their love is unconditional. But above all, I express to you my sincerest gratitude for destroying my self-esteem, for now I can stand up, imperfection and all, and rebuild a young woman that looks beyond her reflection and discovers the beauty that was always within her. So for now, ED, I bid you adieu, though you still exist in my mind, you no longer hold total control over me, and I’ll continue living a life of which I can be proud.