My Best Friend, Eating Disorder and I
I struggled with eating ever since I was ten years old. I remember looking in the mirror, staring at my childish, tiny, little body and feeling unhappy about my reflection.
I didn't stop eating. Instead, I started eating more, frustrated at myself for not being good enough. Not pretty enough. Not thin enough.
It started getting dangerous when I was fourteen. A friend of mine introduced me to dieting. She told me eating 500 kcal a day is a lot and definitely enough. She told me I should start writing down what I was eating in a day. She taught me how to become obsessed with food.
I have been obsessed ever since.
After years of starving myself, then excessively working out, then eating strictly vegan for two years I have become extremely tired of this endless war.
I still struggle every single day. I still eat around 200 kcal a day sometimes. I still feel terrible about my body. I'm only 18 and I've wasted so much time obsessing over food.
And the sad thing is: it could be so much worse.
A year ago I met this girl at my school. Let's call her Lou. Lou used to be the funniest, cutest, sassiest girl I know. I loved spending time with her, even though we weren't close friends yet.
We would take the same train after school, talk endlessly and laugh like the young school girls we are.
Having an eating disorder myself I can sense when other people are struggling with the same thing.
It takes one to see one.
I noticed Lou becoming a lot quieter, a lot thinner, a lot sadder. And I felt helpless.
She became pale, she didn't talk as much, her eyes lost their spark. Eventually, she stopped smiling for once and for all.
Of course, we talked. The worse she felt, the closer we became. She became my best friend. When I felt terrible in school and I needed someone to talk to, all I had to do was look for Lou and give her a nod and she'd be there - and the other way around.
We talked so much about food, about our mental problems, about the constant pain, about losing control.
I believed in her. She lost so much weight and I believed in her. After all, I believed she could be strong enough to fight this disease. Or at least keep it to a minimum in order to stay healthy enough to live, the way I had been.
But life simply isn't a fairytale and it sure as hell isn't black and white.
Lou lost a crazy amount of weight. She had to see her doctors multiple times a week. She wasn't allowed to take part in Physical Education. Her organs started to shut down.
Eventually, her parents and her doctors forced her to go to a special treatment center for eating disorders.
Lou didn't want to go. She hated the idea, she hated eating, she was scared of gaining weight. She didn't see how dangerous this had become and she didn't understand that she could actually die from this.
Nobody saw the seriousness of the situation. Everyone had said, "She's going to this special treatment center and everything will be fine."
I had cried. I said it's not going to work, she's going to come back home and everything will be worse. Nobody had listened but that's exactly what happened.
Lou and I kept in touch over the two months she went to that treatment center. She hated it, she cried every single night. She wasn't allowed to move at all, she was forced to sit in a wheelchair.
I saw her very shortly in school after two months and nothing had changed. Her face was still pale, her legs thin like sticks, her skin was terrible and her hands were ice-cold. She seemed pretty much dead.
I had been excited to see her at first, hugging her and shouting in excitement, but who was I kidding? Her coming back meant her being able to starve herself like she did before she went into treatment.
Nothing was going to change.
We met up a few days ago, talking about everything. And Christ, she talked. She didn't shut up for three hours. She talked and talked and told me everything. How difficult her family situation was, how lost she felt, how she didn't want to get better because her illness made her feel addicted to not eating. She was an addict and nobody helped her.
And I couldn't help her either. I don't know what to do, what to say other than to be there for her whenever she needs me.
As sad and terrible and disgusting as this sounds: I have given up on her. I truly believe that this illness is going to kill her one day. She's so blinded by her addiction, she doesn't see how serious this is.
Her organs are already giving up, she is not allowed to go to school, she's very likely not going to graduate with her friends and she might spend the night of her graduation party in hospital.
If she loses any more weight, she'll have to be force-fed.
It made me realize how uncertain life is. Her eating disorder is a serious illness that took away some of her most important years. She'll never experience those days again, her illness ruined her teenage years.
And in fact, it probably ruined her life.
I complain and worry and hate myself a lot. I hate going to school, I hate waking up in the morning and most of the time all I want to do is sleep. I don't want to pretend that my struggles aren't serious, I know I have to take them seriously.
But it could be so much worse.
I could have an illness that slowly takes away my happiness, my will to live and ends up killing me in the end.
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