Many of us begin our eating disorders (not intentionally, of course) out of self-preservation. We do it because we feel like we have to do it to survive and to function. Because it keeps us calm and in control. It gives us a high, it makes us feel alive.
But before too long, it starts to kill us. Our personalities and our smiles and our skin and our hair and our very bodies begin to fade. Soon the addiction switch is stuck to ON HIGH and we are out of control. We are barely functioning, barely surviving, yet we refuse to let go of the one thing we think will save us, keep us sane, when in reality we are dying; for our eating disorders are killing us.
I have been dead-alive for so long. You know, that state where you are breathing and blinking and going to work and being a robot and getting through the day, but you are not smiling and feeling and experiencing. Anorexia did this to me.
As Caden is sick right now with his kidney problems, I have been really struggling. His pain and his medical problems have brought up a lot of really scary and traumatic memories for me, particularly in relation to when I was in the hospital at the age of five, preparing to die. I see him screaming in pain and the doctors holding him down doing things to him that he doesn't realize are to help him get better, and him looking at me with his big blue eyes screaming MOMMY HELP ME and he doesn't understand he's where he is because I'm trying to help him. And I go home and I cry because I don't want him to think the only thing there is to him is being sick, like I grew up thinking. I don't want him to realize so early that the world is scary and that you could be taken from it at any time. I want to protect him, dammit, and I can't.
I was telling this to W yesterday in therapy, and I was telling her that to cope with these helpless feelings of motherhood and being unable to protect my son, and how I feel scared and am hurting so desperately for my baby, I wanted to screw my mealplan and eat (or not eat) whatever I wanted. I want to stop taking my meds (particularly my life-saving lung meds) and I want to run away and stop going to all my appointments, too. I know I was being entirely irrational but I just thought that I would feel better, more in control, if I could do things my way, because hell, a lot of things aren't going my way, my dear son's health being one of them; and I wanna be holding the reins on something in my life.
And that's when she looked at me and said something like this:
"Do you realize how counter-intuitive your anorexia is? Do you realize you want to run back to something that will make you sick and numb and weak, and you will grow ill and unable to take care of your son, which you've spent all session telling me you want to do, and you somehow think that by starving yourself you'll be better equipped to do this; to handle his medical problems? How the hell does that work? If you get sick, you can't be there for him, physically or emotionally. If you don't take your lung meds, you will be in the hospital within a few days, not taking care of him. are you getting this??"
And, yeah. I think I'm getting this.
Beat it, anorexia. You've stolen too much of my life and my time and my health and my sanity.
I'm going to go take my lung meds now. And eat.
And then I'm going to leave work and take care of my perfect little boy.