I Am A Writer
**TRIGGER WARNING: Talk of low weight with exact numbers, methods of losing weight, the scale and thoughts of suicide/dying.**
(Photo taken August 2016, a little over halfway through my eating disorder)
Fall/winter of 2016-17 was it for me - my last straw. My weight had been in the double digits for quite some time, and I was menacingly proud of it.
The first time my weight got into the double digits was a significant moment in my eating disorder. It was some time in early 2016, and I was weighing myself in the morning as I always did. My parents were beginning to voice their opinions that I should try to gain some weight, and I was playing along.
I was in the middle of a conversation with my dad when I slipped into the laundry room (where we kept our scale). We were laughing about something, and he was convinced I was weighing myself in hopes that I had gained a few pounds. As far as he and my mother knew, my weight was still in the low 100s.
I stepped on the scale, still sort of laughing about whatever we were joking about. I waited a few seconds, looked down. 99.2 glared back at me. I had to catch my breath a little.
For a brief moment, the weight of what I was doing to myself came crashing down. Somehow it hadn't felt real until that moment - until I realized I was in my twenties with the weight of a nine-year-old. I stopped laughing and just stared at the number, sort of transfixed. For the first time in my entire life, I was scared of myself.
And then I decided I fucking loved it.
I told everyone else what they wanted to hear on any given day, and I kept going. I kept doing whatever it took to watch that number go down and down and down. I picked up tricks to speed up my metabolism and applied them all at once. I limited the amount of times per month I could go out to eat, and limited the number of restaurants I deemed "safe." I minimized my portions every chance I could, every time I felt "strong" enough to hold back. The self-destruction was truly on overdrive.
Towards the end of all of this, I was like a walking omen. My life was barely worth noting.
It was getting to be California's version of cold during the fall and winter months, but to me it felt frigid. I was covered in thin blonde hair to protect me from the chill, but it didn't do me any good. The chill was coming from within.
To put it simply, my life was very sad. I would get up really early every day and work out for several hours. The rest of the day would be me, trying to hold myself together with paperclips long enough to make it through a four-hour work shift or a two-hour class at school.
I was usually anxious, manic or depressed. I read all day, to distract myself from the misery and my stomach from the hunger. On a day off, I would walk around my neighborhood for hours and hours. I was too nervous to stop moving for a single second, so I would bundle up in my warmest clothing and wander around with a book until I couldn't take it anymore, go home and lay down and think about dying.
This was my entire life. There really wasn't anything else to it. I would reach out to people online to try and have someone to talk to. It was the only way I felt safe communicating sometimes.
Part of me, the tiny little part that knew what I was doing was wrong, was so terrified for my future. I couldn't even imagine working a regular 9-5 job. How could I be away from home for such a long period of time? My dream was to be a fashion editor, but I couldn't fathom having to go to events or parties or fashion shows. How would I make it through without killing myself?
Why didn't I just kill myself? I thought about it several times and I never really wanted to take action, but I wouldn't have minded if I just died of natural causes. What I didn't realize is that I was already in the process of killing myself - a very slow process.
I was so sad.
I didn't even realize how sad I was.
I soon began to recognize how monumental my problem was, but I had no idea how to stop. If I changed now, what would happen to me? All I wanted was to be skinny, move to New York and become a fashion editor. Anything else felt like failure.
Wrong. So incredibly wrong.
I recovered and realized nothing else had to change. If anything, being strong, healthy and happy again only made it MORE possible for me to accomplish all of my dreams. So I moved to New York anyway, and started working at a fashion magazine, regardless of my weight. Can you believe it?
However, my time at the magazine showed me how different I am now, different in an incredible way.
It was a six-month contract, and it was hell. I worked about sixty hours a week, doing nothing of substance. My entire job revolved around cutting out a bunch of fucking pieces of paper to put on mood boards. Like, that was probably a good 70% of my job. And the rest of it was me doing a bunch of manual labor and running around the City with garments bags that weighed half of my bodyweight.
It was sort of funny though, and it taught me a lot. First and foremost, that I could NOT have done that job while anorexic. There's just absolutely no way. I couldn't have had the strength or energy. I would have either been fired or had to quit, probably in the first week. Second, that maybe fashion wasn't what I wanted to do.
This was a hard pill to swallow, as fashion was something I fantasized about my entire life. I still love fashion as an art form and do still want to be involved somehow, but the editorial side was much more toxic than I had ever considered. Aside from the unreasonable workload and daily degradation from everyone else who was "above" us (us being the assistants) at the magazine, there was so much self-hatred in the air, and THAT is the real reason why everyone in fashion is so mean. Everyone is overworked, sleep-deprived, addicted to cigarettes or caffeine, angry - just unhealthy in almost every way imaginable. I would walk past my editors' desks and, about nine times out of 10, hear them complaining to each other about how fat they are and how they don't understand why they're so bloated because they haven't eaten anything all day. I don't know that anyone had a full-blown eating disorder, but there was ENDLESS disordered eating, twisted self-image and warped views of what it is to be healthy surrounding me at all times. I'm thankful I was far along enough in my recovery to not be too affected by all of this, but nevertheless I saw it as a very ugly environment and I didn't really want to be apart of something that could inspire others to adopt the very same thing that almost killed me.
At first, I was pretty upset. The industry I had been dreaming about my entire life didn't feel the same. With my new outlook on the world that recovery had given me, the fashion industry didn't really excite me anymore. What was I going to do?
But then, it hit me. What was I going to do? Well, I was going to do the ONE thing I've always put before fashion, my FIRST dream job: I was going to be a writer.
I guess I never really realized it, but looking back I think I squashed the idea of being a famous writer and novelist at a very young age. It seemed so outlandish, to become successful as a writer. Becoming an editor at a magazine seemed a lot more feasible, so I quickly switched my dream and made myself forget.
This is where recovery comes back into play. When I was in the middle of it and so unsure how I was going to find myself again, I urged myself to go back to my roots. To my childhood - to me before my ED, when I loved my life and didn't care about my body. When I just did what made me happy. And writing has always been my savior.
My mom used to bring home fresh notebooks for me, and I would run off with them and fill them up with my thoughts. I would hide in the hallway closet, in the bathtub, in the attic - just me and my art. During school I rarely paid attention - I was too busy doodling in my notebooks and dreaming up stories I could tell about love, about family, about life. I was fascinated by people and I've always wanted to give the world my words. To describe everyone around me and show them who they are - show them we all have more in common than we thought. I wanted to write the best novels.
Nonetheless, I was relieved when my six months at the magazine were up.
I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm writing. I'm writing every single day about the people around me, and I'm getting pretty good.
This is who I always dreamed I would be someday. I wanted to move to New York and become a writer, from day one. Once I recovered, I was able to find that again. That belief in myself - that I can do whatever I set my mind to.
I'm not famous yet, but I'm going to be. My words are going to speak to everyone - that's what I want. And I won't stop until I'm there.
My eating disorder did not give me that strength. My recovery did. I did.
When you sacrifice your eating disorder, you're welcoming back the real you with open arms. It is one hell of a process, and it is not easy. But you aren't happy with your eating disorder, and I think deep down you can all see that.
Go back to what makes you happy. You might not even know what that is anymore - your mind might have made you forget, just like mine did. But it is still inside of you. It doesn't really leave. Take care of your health first - you have to, just in order to make sense of it all. And then, with time, everything else begins to click into place.
I want you to have this story forever.