I remember sitting there on the curb in the middle of that September night. Feeling like I was coming apart at the seams. Scared that I was about to blurt out The Truth About Me.
I remember the voice of my eating disorder (which I hadn’t yet learned to distinguish from my own) so fucking loud I couldn’t even hear my own heartbeat.
I remember my finger pausing before I hit the ‘call’ button. Maybe death would be simpler than asking for a lifeline.
Some automated message asking me if this was an emergency to hang up and dial 9-1-1.
I stayed on the line.
Then, a stranger’s voice. Calm. Asking me questions I can’t remember anymore.
I couldn’t speak at first. I just cried.
And then, suddenly, before I could stop the truth from falling out of my mouth, the words I never thought I would be saying.
“I think I have an eating disorder.”
I waited for the stranger to hang up.
I waited for the word to end.
But she stayed on the phone and the earth kept spinning.
In the weeks and months following that midnight admission, I would discover that the voice that had convinced me that I was alone, was wrong.
The family I was certain would disown me, the friends I assumed would abandon me, the job that would fire me and the boyfriend that I knew would run if they ever found out The Truth About Me, did just the opposite.
Instead of running, they stood with me in the broken.
At the time, I didn’t think I deserved it. And not just because being hungry all the time had made me a bitch to be around.
That is the terrifying power of mental illness – it strips away your self worth. Reduces you to a shadow of all the wonder and beauty you are capable of. And you don’t even know it – because it shows you only the darkest parts of yourself.
It tricks you into believing that you are on your own.
But all that darkness thrives on secrets. The light floods in when you break the silence.
Three years ago, that light was an anonymous voice at the end of suicide hotline, a family who loved me anyway, a doctor with a wake-up call, an army of friends who accepted me for all my crazy, and the list I owe my life to goes on and on.
Because in standing with me and loving me through the broken, I discovered that I was not alone.
These past few weeks, as I have encountered some speed bumps along the road to recovery, you have stood with me once again. And in holding the space for me to speak the truth and share my story, you’ve reminded me that I will never have to fight this battle on my own.
And yes, there is a part of me that wants to believe I don’t deserve it. But that would be letting my eating disorder win. And there’s no way I’m about to let that happen.
This week happens to be Eating Disorder Awareness Week. To honour the people in my life who create the space for recovery, I am wearing a purple wristband in support of the Provincial Eating Disorder Awareness (PEDAW) campaign’s Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves initiative.
I am wearing a purple wristband in gratitude of the loved ones, physicians, counselors, nutritionists, activists, lobbyists, agencies, media outlets, helplines and fellow survivors dedicated to ensuring that recovery is never a journey anyone has to travel alone.