Sometimes I will be walking across campus to class or through the local mall, I will see someone who reminds me of myself as I was about a year ago. She is emaciated and often seems hyperactive, as if she can't stop moving and she's running towards somewhere she can never find. She will have a fleeting look of despair in her eyes, and I always wish there was something I could do or say to help her. If I could, I would take her hand and lead her toward a private place where we could talk and I would say, "You can get better. You don't have to live your life of fear and anxiety anymore."
But of course in this world, we don't take strangers by the hand and start talking to them about healing and recovery. That is too bad, because I wish somebody would have taken me by the hand last year and said, "You can recover." Of course, both Dr. S and my husband did say those type of things to me many times. So what makes me think I would have listened to a stranger? But perhaps I would have listened to a stranger who had been through the same things I was feeling. I will never know, just as I can't make that final step to reach out to a total stranger.
However, I did reach out in a way. Last year, I wrote several posts about the dangers of anorexia on a pro-anorexia site. I was completely trashed by the site's author and many of her readers, and I felt that my posts were probably just empty echos into cyperspace. But sometimes a word or two can fall upon the right person and just maybe you can make a difference. I recently found out that my warnings did make a difference to a young woman who had recently had a baby. She had gained weight and was desperate to take it off, and started looking to pro-anorexia sites for tips to lose weight more rapidly. She began to get sucked into the whole mindset of becoming a size 0, and it seemed as if she would soon become trapped into the whole anorexic mindset.
Then she came across my posts, which basically stated that being a size 0 wasn't all it seemed, and that indulging in anorexic behaviors was like playing with fire. I wrote about how anorexia was destroying me mind and soul, and this was even before things really started to fall apart. My posts led her to this blog, and this is what she recently wrote in part: "I think I was borderline of developing a problem, but it was your posts (and) then reading your blog that showed me I was playing a nasty game." She talked with her doctor and started losing weight the healthy way, and a potential crisis was averted.
I've been thinking about this because I have been thinking about all of you who read my blog and have left me encouraging and kind comments when I was at my worst and now that I am getting better. It is like you are the stranger who reached across and took my hand, saying "Yes, you can do it. You can get better."
I want to thank all of you for your support. I have cherished it, and it has made these difficult days just a little easier knowing so many people are praying and hoping for my complete recovery.
I won't let all of you down. I have no desire to return to anorexia. In the past, when I would look at these women, I felt a twinge of envy. Now all I feel is pity. Recovery is almost like I died and was resurrected. I feel like I am becoming a better person, one ready to face the future and is excited about it. It doesn't mean I don't still get anxious or depressed. It means that I face life, deal with it in the best ways I can, and continue to eat no matter what.
And it also means a life of love and joy and happiness, and I pray this includes my husband, David. I believe in the end our love will see us through, and I believe we both have so much hope. I just have to be patient, and patient with recovery as I discover new and exciting things about myself. None of this can be rushed, and I will enjoy all of it; returning to life, reconnecting with my husband and friends, learning and growing in graduate school, everything that I missed for so long.
Freedom...It tastes so sweet, and it has been so long in coming. Perhaps it is sweeter because it has taken me so long to want full recovery, to really work at it like I mean it.
I am going to make it. I just know it.
I am going to be free. And someday, I hope to reach out my hand to someone else and whisper, "You can be free, too."