Living in the Grey: A Story of Recovery - Ellie B.
It is hard to talk about an eating disorder. It is hard to try and explain something that most people won’t be able to fathom. And that’s all my life has ever been: my eating disorder. It’s always had the upper hand.
It got to a point where I let it consume everything. It took away my family, my friends, my life. It was killing me, and I stood by and let it happen. Everyone did.
I was sick for seventeen years of my life, killing myself slowly and nobody noticed. Until now.
I was passing out on a daily basis, throwing up food I couldn't keep down, exercising constantly, having seizures, barely being able to walk up stairs.
It took me going to the doctor, for what I thought was a vitamin deficiency, for someone to see what was going on inside my head, to see what was killing me.
It took two months in a treatment center to restore my weight, to give me some physical strength back. But emotionally, I was weak.
I was stripped of everything I believed in and now I’m expected to start over. I’m expected to let go of the biggest part of my life, the part that kept me together, kept me calm, shielded me from the pain I was facing in my life by showing me a different kind.
Treatment gave me life, but took away my will. And now I’m stuck. I’m stuck in this awful in-between of two extremities. I’m stuck between my eating disorder and recovery.
Logically, I know I need to move forward into recovery and let the eating disorder go. But emotionally, I can’t fathom that. I can’t start over; there is no reset button on life.
And so I’m here: in a perpetual back-and-forth of logic and emotions, of two extremities. I just wish it would all be okay. All I want is to be okay, not black or white — just grey.
The past four years were the darkest for me; I was depressed, anorexic and suicidal. All of my memories are painful, like the part of my brain that holds them is bleeding out.
My eating disorder kept my mind preoccupied every second of every day. My thoughts revolved around self-hatred, calorie counting, exercise and weight. I was exhausted, in pain and suffering. And I was going through all of it alone.
I was dying and nobody noticed. I look back on my years in high school and all I see is that part of me, the part that was so close to death and so far away from everyone else. I was alone in every sense of the word.
My life has always been an extreme: striving for perfection in every aspect of my life. If I couldn't succeed, I couldn't do anything. For years, that was my motto. This was the motto that my eating disorder loved, that kept me from doing things I knew I was capable of because I was afraid I wouldn't meet my own unattainable expectations.
I had nothing but hatred and resentment toward myself for not being what I knew I could never be: perfect. But now I have something I didn't before:
I have hope.
I have hope that one day things will be different. One day, I won’t live in this black and white world that has deprived me of things every human should rightfully experience. I have hope for a future, which is something I never thought I would have, and something I didn't think I deserved.
The Grey exists. And it’s something I will spend the rest of my life trying to reach. Starting now, this year, today, I vow to choose life and everything that comes with it. I will take life one step at a time because now I have hope for a future and a promise of hope for myself.
So this is where I leave off, with uncertainty. I know now, that it’s okay to be afraid and sad and angry. I know now that it’s okay to cry when you're sad and tell people you love them. It’s okay to be close with someone and it’s okay to let someone go. It’s okay to not be okay. And it’s okay to just hope. Sometimes, that’s all you can muster up the energy to do.
So I will go on from here, with hope for a future, and longing for the grey.
- Ellie B.