We’ve all done it. Moved through our day with a smile plastered across our face, while inside you are crying with your knees pulled in and your arms wrapped around your body. It’s a protective measure, something we do when we don’t know exactly how to cope with our emotions and process our feelings. Life has a way of putting stumbling blocks in your path just when you think things are fantastic, but this is true for everyone.

What makes it all the more infuriating for those of us who shoulder ED, is we can never let the balls were juggling drop or the entire house of cards comes crashing down. The last few days have been this way for me, so today, as my mind attempts to wonder into very dark territory I thought I would share with all my readers what it feels like from this seat in the house. Dear reader, walking a mile with ED is like carrying a thousand pound bag of concrete on your back. It leaves you digging your fingernails in some days to simply drag yourself forward, and the damage to your body is excruciating. Ironically, for most of us handcuffed to ED, the story is oddly similar, the struggles sardonic.
To be clear, I am not focusing on the negative, but rather opening your eyes to the real. Sometimes the best way to come out the other side is simply to power straight through.
6:10 a.m. – It’s the first morning after Daylight savings time has shifted. Spring forward makes it sound so enticing and energetic, but I’m wiped out. In fact, most days I’m utterly exhausted. I see the Instagram posts of friends beginning their day at some ungodly hour to work-out, and all I can think is that I’m jealous of their energy. I would love nothing more than to work out and have the verve it provides, but hauling ED’s ass around has provided another tag-along on my back; anemia. So rather than participating in something I so deeply miss on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, I scroll through my friends pictures and remember when I was healthy and fit and felt like I could face the day. Today isn’t that day. I roll (literally) out of bed, shuffle into my bathroom and turn on the shower. That’s another ‘friend’ ED invites along for the day, muscle aches. It’s ironic that even though the binging has stopped entirely, and the purging is rare that my body still hurts like I have been put through an MMA match. I feel every part of my body; as I’m waiting on the shower water to heat-up I’m standing naked considering whether this is just age creeping its way into my bones, or if like every other part of my life, ED has finally caught up to show the damage he’s done.
6:30 a.m. – I never wanted to leave the warmth the water provided, but I know I am required to rejoin the land of the living today and at least act like a normal person does. Really, for the last few days I’ve been struggling, hard, to make sense of how I feel about my body. I’m months into recovery, recently moving to a new phase of therapy, and yet I feel like I’m back at day one when I look in the mirror. All the emotions from the night before flood back in. Realizing that your self-loathing has impacted your desire to physically connect really does a number on your well-being. ED steals where he can, and intimacy is the first place he tends to show his ugly face. Convincing you of hundreds if not thousands of lies in a matter of seconds. Those emotional scars he left the night before are raw and tugging today. I analyze my body in the mirror; unsure if this is really the smart thing to do. Knowing it’s not. But ED slides his long-craggy self up my body making sure I notice each and every thing I dislike. Reminding me of what needs ‘fixed’. This new phase of therapy we’re supposed to focus on (“changing my mentality from thinking I need to lose weight to accepting myself as I am”) should be the logical next step, but looking in the mirror this morning, it feels impossible.  I feel like a recovery fraud as I sit there anguishing over my own self-hate, and listening to ED rationalize why I should be allowed to want to be thinner and diet, blah blah blah. It never ends.
7:20 a.m. – I’ve packed my lunch; a sensible thrown together taco salad and a container of cantaloupe. I’ve told my husband goodbye, put my things in my car, and am heading into the office. I’m already ready to be back in bed, and though I LOVE my job, I don’t want to face it today. ED’s favorite emotion to draw me back to him like a yo-yo is depression, and its pushing heavily against my fight this morning. I somehow made an unconscious effort to forget breakfast, damn, that’s going to be a bad thing today. I’m arguing so loudly with ED about this that I barely am paying attention to the world around me. Normally, I enjoy the morning radio show here in Indy, but today I am barely even noting the drive. ED wins this round, I stop at Taco Bell and order 3 things, all with dairy and meat and cheese, all guaranteed to make me sick. I’ve entered binge territory, all the while my real voice is whispering to stop! Turn back!…but I don’t. Fuck.
7:50 a.m. – I’ve now eaten every bite. My stomach is already hurting and I feel nauseous, but is it ED or is my food sensitivities?  I already know I have chosen to purge before I even get inside the building. I rush to put my things in my office, and head straight to the ladies room. It’s not as bad I expected, but the nausea also seems more real than normal, so again I’m left wondering what combination of guilt from ED or genuine sickness has caused this. There really aren’t enough cuss-words to properly describe our relationship, and I’m quickly sick of his little visit this week.
It is now barely the start of my day, and yet already you’ve seen a near-constant battle. The remainder of the day I will battle feelings of depression, self-hate, exhaustion, and just the base level desire to cry like a baby and let all the emotion out in some way that isn’t so harmful to my body. I’ll battle whether I’m bored, fighting ED, or truly hungry at least 4 times before I leave work. It will take every bit of energy I have to not fall asleep, or to stay at a normal body temp. Yep, ED has a hand in that too. I’m wrapped up in a big thick hoodie, leggings, boots, a blanket, a heated food mat, and my office temp is turned WAY-up and I’m still constantly chilled. ED does a good job of spreading himself around, and when he doesn’t have the proper expertise, he brings in his friends; perfectionism, self-hate, guilt, depression, sadness, and my own brand of ED…anger. Fun time people, fun times.
So today, the narrative isn’t cheery. I’m not smiling and posting pictures of the fantastic food I’m creating, or of my glowing skin (though I am thankful ED hasn’t latched onto that one). Today is a valley in my journey, and that’s okay. Like I said sometimes the fastest way to get to the destination is straight through the storm. Today, and the last few days, the storm is a category 5, raging and ripping apart all the perfectly constructed walls. The list of ‘things’ my friend ED has brought me is looong. It would take pages to list the impact he has, but today the sharpest shrapnel is simply my own emotions. ED is a master as manipulating those to convince me it’s really me and not his piercing voice.
If you’re dealing with all the ‘gifts’ ED likes to lavish on his dearest victims, then I feel you. Remember that while its okay to have these days where you take a step or two backwards just for a moment, that they need to be that…a moment. No person on this planet can live perfectly all the time, and that especially goes for those of us carrying around ED! Give yourself a little leeway, and realize that we are a special kind of superhuman, those of us with ED. We are dealing with all the regular things life throws our way, AND also dealing with the enormous burden of ED. It’s okay to crack a little. It’s okay to need a good cry (lawdy lawdy this is so true of me today). It’s especially okay to know that you are imperfect and that those imperfections are ultimately what will help you recover completely! We have to be able to row through this storm to get to the sunshine.
If you’re someone supporting a loved-one with ED. Give them extra slack when you see them flounder. We are so terribly hard on ourselves, that you can’t possibly imagine the amount of strength it takes to simply navigate and survive a day with ED, much less work full time, parent, be a spouse, and just live a normal life. Like I said, we surely have some super power because no one ‘normal’ could do what we do; survive. Walk a mile in our shoes, realize that we hurt internally and never share it, we weep in private so we don’t bother those we love, and if you’re like me, you skip makeup some days because you feel so deeply bad about yourself that day you simply can’t use the energy to put on even a little mascara. It’s a lot, all in all, so be present, be willing to give us space, or be willing to wrap us in hugs and let us cry and not ask what’s wrong. Sometimes we just need connection when we can’t properly connect with ourselves.
My take-away for everyone today is this. Ever person puts on that smile and hides behind it some days. We shouldn’t have to since being human is part of the life experience, and yet we do. As you’re rowing in the middle of the storm, looking up into the eye and wondering how you’ll ever make it…just know, you will. I looked in the mirror this morning and said to myself “I hate my body today, and that’s okay. ED has a voice today, and that’s okay. This is one moment in a lifetime, not a lifetime in one moment, and I’ll look back at this and wonder why I let it weight me down”. You can do that too. It’s allowable to acknowledge the pain and suffering and torture that ED brings, just don’t wallow. It’s okay to admit that some days it is all just TOO much, but don’t get stuck. Don’t say you want to recovery but ignore the door when someone opens it. Walk through, walk through and stand in the sunshine.
Amber