“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey”- Kenji Miyazawa
In the past 4 years I’ve gone through more pain then I could ever fathom. My journey with mental illness started long before I even knew what a mental illness was. I was 13, still had baby fat and was not happy with myself. I’m still working on figuring out what triggered it, but at 13 I started to purge, once a day after lunch. This lasted until I was 14, at which point I began to purge three times a day. Purging gave me a feeling of controlling my body as it was going through puberty. While I thought I was giving myself control, I was doing the total opposite. I was letting ED slowly take over my body, my mind, my soul, and my life. From the ages of 14 to 17, I was purging up to 4 times a day. ED became my life, he controlled every aspect of my being and I couldn’t see it. I believed it was all voluntary and if I ever wanted to stop, I could.
At the beginning of grade 11 I began developing severe stomach pains. This was the first time I became scared of ED. I thought he was doing this to me. These episodes of pains started to occur at increasing frequency and so I saw doctor after doctor, none of whom could figure out what it was. One day the pain was so bad I couldn’t walk and had to be taken to the emergency room. It was there that I learned my appendix ruptured 9 months ago and was slowly leaking into my body. That was when my life drastically changed.
I had my first of many surgeries and removed my appendix. I was in the hospital for one week and for the first few days; I couldn’t eat so ED was calm. After day 3, I began to eat. ED didn’t like how I stopped purging. I felt worthless and weak. I was upset that after years of hard work one surgery would make me fat and ruined everything I had worked for. Once released, I tried to eat as little as possible until I felt okay to purge again. All went back to normal and I was back to purging for a couple of months until the stomach pains came back.
I went back to the hospital where I was told that I had a rare cancer that consisted of carcinoid tumors. You know in a rom-com when the girl gets her heart broken and sad music plays, it’s raining, and we just see her world fall apart? That is the best way to describe how I was feeling. To get rid of the tumors, I had another 5 surgeries and lots of hospitals visits. It was here that ED began to turn on me.
I couldn’t not purge or restrict myself from food. I felt like an addict in withdrawal whenever I followed a normal eating pattern. After my final surgery, I was in post-op refusing to eat. I couldn’t stand gaining weight or eating another bite. After five days of refusing to eat, the surgeons released me on the condition that I go to the eating disorder outpatient clinic. I agreed but promised myself I wouldn’t let these people change me, and all the hard work I had put into myself. After two visits to the outpatient clinic, I was admitted for one month to the inpatient ward. It was there that I was diagnosed with depression and bulimia.
Once being released, we focused on treating the depression, as at the time, that was the most significant problem. My life became one big doctor’s appointment and I was overwhelmed. This is when ED completely took over my life. Purging was the one thing I could still control and it gave me a feeling of normalcy and the feeling of comfort. I completely cut out everyone who tried to help me and believed ED was my only true friend.
The hardest part of recovery is admitting that there is a problem. I refused to accept that I wasn’t okay for a very long time. I refused to believe ED was bad for me because after six years he was my best friend. I was in an abusive relationship with my mind and it was the scariest fight.
After about 6 months, I entered treatment at the Douglas Mental Hospital for my eating disorder. It has been a constant battle of differentiating between my thoughts and the thoughts of ED. However, that’s the best part of recovery, finding out who I truly am. I’ve been stuck with ED since I was 13 and now at 19 I’m having an amazing time learning about who I am without ED. I still have a long way to go but with the best family and friends in my corner, the only direction from here is up.