I originally had another post typed up for this week’s Mental Health Monday, but I’m going to save it and focus on a more pressing situation I, and many others within the recovery community are facing: the fatality of eating disorders.
For more information on Mental Health Monday and how to participate, head over here.
Apologies in advance for the melancholic tone of this week’s post. I never intended for Mental Health Monday to be an all or nothing, plastered-smile type of link-up. This is a time and space for honest reflections on the world around us and how it affects us. It’s a safe place to explore your raw emotions and reactions. Even if they are negative and even if they are hard to share. That’s what I’m choosing to do today.
Dealing With Loss
I always “knew” eating disorders were a fatal disease, but the weight of that statement never carried over into the day-to-day tasks of my recovery. Sure, I considered that at a lower weight, depriving my body of nutrients, excessively exercising- I was setting myself up for long-term health conditions. There was some element of truth and acceptance in that fact in my head, but it never made me want to change. My desire for recovery was predominantly an emotional yearning for something more. The physical effects were a mere afterthought.
That’s no longer the case now.
The recovery community lost someone this past week who was the epitome of an encouraging soul. Many times we held private conversations, sharing our struggles and building each other up. I felt renewed from speaking with her each time we did so, and I can honestly say I’m a better person today, a stronger woman, because of the love radiated from Katie.
It infuriates me that she lost her life to her mental illness. Katie, you are, and forever will be, an angel to the lives you’ve touch. May you rest in peace.
This has been a wakeup call for me. I’m entirely fine in my recovery now, but I still cannot believe the damage I previously did to my body. My stomach turns in knots when I think of how many other men, women, and children (!) do those very same things, and currently still do so.
During the spring, I took an entire college course dedicated to death, dying, and the afterlife. Even 17 weeks of academic study cannot prepare you for the real tragedy of an unexpected, too-soon, preventable passing of someone who shone through every action of her life with the purest of life. This is not the first time I’ve lost someone in my life, but this is the first time I’ve lost someone due to health complications related to an eating disorder. That makes this all much more poignant. Much more raw. Much more impactful.
Eating Disorder Mortality
According to NEDA, researchers “found that crude mortality rates were 4.0% for anorexia nervosa, 3.9% for bulimia nervosa, and 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified.”
Those numbers sound low but if you’re in a room with 99 other people, those numbers become a lot more real. These percentages do not even dive into related complications that decrease immune systems, damage livers, etc. Eating disorders harm us. They leave lasting impressions, and they never want you to escape their grip.
Eating disorders are real. They are complex. They are lonely illnesses that encompass every aspect of our lives. There will never be such a concept suitable for our eating disorder when we are suddenly deemed “sick enough.” That day will never come. And when that day does come, we won’t be alive to witness it.
I don’t know if any of this is even okay to write out, and the last thing I want to do is disrespect the feelings of anyone else affected by the situation. However, this is my plea to those of you out there who feel that twinge in your heart. That little bug that tells you that the way you’re living right now is irreproachable. It’s not a healthy lifestyle. No matter how fervently we try to justify our disordered behaviors, we know deep down we aren’t living free with the shadow of our eating disorders tagging along behind us. Sometimes even leading the way.
With Loss Brings Gratitude… And Reminders
For me, this week has been a time of immense gratitude. I’m grateful for the friendship Katie and I cultivated. I’m grateful for the wonderful, supportive impact she had on the recovery community as a whole. I’m grateful for the cherished memories I’ll always have of our conversations. I’m also grateful for where I am, in a healthy state of mind, appreciative of the family I have around me. I’m grateful that I somehow managed to find my way out of the hell hole. And that’s not to say I, or anyone else is better than those who pass away from related complications. It’s just a reminder to me to be grateful for each day I do have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. The rest of today is not guaranteed for any of us.
Do not remain stagnant in your recovery. Do not think the world is wide enough for both you and your eating disorder to walk hand in hand together. It’s not. And if that means you punch pillows and cry into bowls of pasta- do it. Get mad at your eating disorder. Find the source of your anger and use to push through those meals when your mind is screaming at you, shrieking illogical and morbid comments at you, remarking how unworthy you are. Mute those voices. They are not there. Make mistakes, but for every minute of your life from here on out, try. That’s where progress begins.
When I first heard the news I hastily wrote out a post detailing various recovery resources that can be found on the internet, and before I end this post, I just wanted to leave them here. Additionally, on the top of my blog is page linking to my Recovery Resources, which is a compilation of old posts I crafted in regards to the recovery process, specifically my experiences with Minnie Maud, challenging fear foods, weight distribution, and emotionally coping with it all. It is my hope and wish something there can help you find solace.
Further resources for recovery:
Any thoughts are welcome.