It’s been a long time since I posted. In the last 14 months or so, I returned to one of the top colleges in the country, raised my GPA .42 points and got back on track toward medical school. My girlfriend has stood by me the whole time, and we just celebrated our three year anniversary. I will graduate in May, 2 years late but I’m a better person for it.
I spent the summer volunteering in Africa. I took a break from my rotations at the Hansen’s disease community (=leper colony), hospital, clinics and orphanages to go to the beach. As I walked across the deep sand (there were no paved roads), I kept sinking and walking was very frustrating difficult. I’m telling you this because being undernourished feels like you’re walking through sand all the time. I put so much energy into each step, only to move a few inches, and getting out involved stumbling through more deep sand.
I am 15-20 lbs heavier and a few sizes bigger, but it is well worth the trade. I have a future now. Here’s a list of other cool perks:
- My body generates its own heat now. Blankets now work for me now that my skin has heat to be insulated. Temperatures less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit are no longer a problem for me.
- I have energy. I used to watch my girlfriend and roommates get up, go to school and then go to work with total amazement. The effort of taking a shower would leave me too exhausted to do anything else, so I thought they were superhuman. Now I too can do multiple things in the same day! Driving to the grocery store is an errand, not an odyssey.
- I can have sex. Sure, I had sex when I was sick, but now I can actually enjoy it.
- I can think about things besides food. It’s true: the less you eat, the more you think about food.
- My brain works. It turns out I was actually quite smart all along, I just wasn’t feeding my brain. There’s a lot of free space in my brain without counting calories.
- My chest doesn’t hurt. My muscles and joints don’t hurt either.
- I grew half an inch. That’s right, I grew half an inch at 22 years old even though I hadn’t grown since I was 12.
- I have an ass and I now wear a 32E bra.
- I can help others now that I don’t need to be helped all the time.
No, recovery wasn’t easy. It won’t be easy for you, either. Even if you can afford treatment, the waiting lists are long. Recovery is uncomfortable. I know you can’t just wish your eating disorder away. I was very lucky, but I was also very sick (apparently, since my inbox is full of old messages from people who thought I had died). My muscles had atrophied and the weight came back as fat, which drove me crazy. I swore I could feel the fat folding and jiggling, only to touch it with my hand and realize it wasn’t. The weight stayed in my abdomen for a while before distributing itself nicely. I made it through.
I don’t expect you to read this post and magically get better. (In fact, I’d be surprised if anyone reads all of this). Recovery isn’t just about changing your mind, and it’s a lifelong process, not an on/off switch. I just wanted you all to know that there is hope and that I didn’t die. I wanted to tell you from the “other side” that there is more to life than calories and weight loss. Won’t you join me one day?