22 November 2011


For Annemarie...May your heart be at peace and your body free of pain, and I will see you someday.
I am dreaming of a new life, a good life completely free from anorexia and in which I am happy and love myself. I asked my eating disorders psychiatrist the other day if he believed that I could *fully* recover, and he said yes. I ask him this question often, not really out of doubt, but perhaps to hear one other person reassure me that yes, I can be free...

One of my friends, Annemarie, died of anorexia on Nov. 11. She was only 34. She was always positive, telling me that I would be one of those with anorexia who did recover. She completely believed in me, but I am not so sure she believed in herself. She seemed to be getting better, but then relapsed and eventually her body just couldn't take any more. My heart is broken that such a young, lively spirit is gone — she sent me a text about a month before she died, saying to always look on the positive side. I don't understand why that wasn't enough to save her, though. I mean, part of me does understand. She battled this illness for more than sixteen years. I have been struggling with it, getting better and then relapsing, for about four years.

Still, it is frightening. I think that when someone dies of an illness you are still struggling with, it makes you think that it could have been you. And there is something that shakes you to your core, and makes you want to deny that you have the illness; no, not me, I am not that sick, I was never that sick. Then you look at pictures or talk to family or friends and the reality comes through, that they also thought that at one time, you were going to die of anorexia, and you realize that they are right.

I say you, but I really mean me; perhaps by use of the third person is a way of protecting myself from the complete terror. Okay, so I remember the slow heart rate and the skips between beats, the fear that my heart might stop in the middle of the night, and the trips to ER in which I was always lectured by the ER physician on duty to do something, to eat, that I needed to get better or one day, my heart could stop and that would have been it. I remember thinking I was too fat, and then my hand would brush against a protruding hip bone or feel my clavicle, and then my heart would race, I would be afraid and yet, at the same time, wonder with the wonder of a child if I would at some point see Christ, and there was hope mixed in with fear because I was so very tired of it.

And I remember last Thanksgiving, when I got up to get ready to go to my family's and instead, I blacked out and fell down the stairs, crashing into the wall, giving myself a migraine and sick feeling in my stomach and spending the holiday curled on the couch, safe from the world in spite of wondering why did I blackout? Of course, in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew why I had blacked out. I was starving myself again, and eventually it will catch you one way or another. I continued to blackout several times through December, and actually did not find the determination to eat and try to be healthier until my husband left me on Dec. 27. On December 28, I fixed myself a full breakfast, knowing the only way to any life was food; no, it is not only about food, but food had to come first and nutrition and weight restoration was the start of recovery. Of course, as most of you know, it did not make a difference  in my marriage and we are now permanently separated, but will not divorce until I am at least finished with graduate school.

So what does this have to do with dreaming? This year has been much better; I eat and have maintained at least a reasonable weight. You would not know, or at least I like to think so, that I have had anorexia to look at me now. I still have a ways to go, but I am proud of the progress I've made.

I finally realized I had two choices: I could continue to go in and out of recovery, abusing my body and getting sicker each time simply because I am 46 and things are harder on me now; or I could eat and tell the voices in my head to shut up and go to hell, that I am going to live, and more than that, I am going to thrive.

I have allowed myself to dream again, after years of believing there were no dreams left for me. But part of that feels like self-pity, and I hate that.

So I am dreaming...I am dreaming of love and a full relationship, someone by my side, sharing life and laughter and love. I am dreaming of actually earning my master's degree, of having it in hand in May 2012, and finding a job I both love and in which I help people. I am dreaming of connections with friends and family, and sharing love and friendship.

I am dreaming...And in those dreams, my friend is now at peace and perhaps she sees these words she helped inspire, and perhaps some day we will live in a world that sees the soul, the spirit within, and not the frame that holds us, because that is just superficial. Each one of us has a spirit that is more beautiful and wondrous than we can even imagine; right now, I live in a world that doesn't help us see the spirit within, the innate goodness and kindness that is part of most people, and the quirky traits and things that make each person unique and interesting and special.

I am dreaming...And I thank God that anorexia did not kill my dreams; there was a time I thought that might happen.

I am dreaming of being free. And when I fully recover, I will be free.


Sia Jane said...

I am so sorry to hear of such a loss.
So many lives are lost to this disease.
You can recover, you will recover and you will move through this.
You should be really proud of yourself for this piece of inspiring writing <3

Sensory Overload said...

Very sad that your dear friend succumbed to something very much misunderstood by the majority.

As I read your thoughts and experience; I simply want to reach out and comfort those that are challenged day in and day out by something so (nearly) mislabeled (and misunderstood); but as well to YOU.

I know Angela it is not anything definable what is for each of us to "lose" someone in the way that we know them. So, I thank you for sharing.

I hope that you will find the strength to carry on for YOU (if it is in the spirit of dear Anne Marie; may you do so. However; I do truly HOPE and pray that you do for YOU what you are able to.

You've touched me simply in sharing through your blog. Even if this wasn't your intent; it has occurred. So with that; I truly hope you can see that in what you share allows another a space to grow and be.

Please keep dreaming. Please KNOW that you can BE now in this time continuum whatever it is you wish and want to be.

My thoughts and prayers to you; to your friend and all those who find themselves in the struggles that present (no matter what way they come.)

Ashley Noelle said...

This post you wrote really touched me.

Our family friend had a mom who died at age of 34 from a complication of her eating disorder (her heart gave out due to lack of nutrition). She died this month two years ago.

To read that someone else has died--your friend--brought tears to my eyes. I am very sad for her family, and everybody who knew her including you.

You have been one of the sources of inspiration for me because your writing is very honest and open and something I can relate to very much in terms of dealing then recovering from Anorexia.

Now it is up to us to carry the torches for those who have lost their lives to their eating disorders. It is up to us to better ourselves, educate the society, and overcome the ugly business of eating disorder.

I have faith that you will overcome Anorexia and be completely recovered.


The Dandelion Girl said...

Last year on the 21st a friend of mine who battled an eating disorder for years and years took her own life - she had given up hope... a few months later another friend of mine died from complications of her eating disorder

So I can tell you that I truly truly am sorry... It's such a hard thing to go through...

I am so happy to read all that you've accomplished in this year. I truly hope you realize the full extent of your progressions. It's inspiring.

love and compassion to you.

sarahlynn said...

I think you know how acutely I understand the ways in which losing someone you care for to an eating disorder can be felt. It is so very complicated, because it turns the 'I'm safe' notions that eating disorders give us and turn it on its head.

I was so sorry to hear about your friend. Please take care of yourself even more now - I'm sure you know how easily that grief can be used by the eating disorder.

And you know what? I think it is a great, incredible thing, that you're dreaming now. Can you remember the days when you couldn't imagine tomorrow? Yes, they will likely come again... but hopefully not in the same way, nor for awhile.

As I keep telling you - your world is opening up for you. More than ever before, you have so many things to be excited about - why let your eating disorder hold you back from that?

I KNOW you'll recover. I KNOW it. Even when you doubt it.

So many hugs!

flaweddesign said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I too have lost friends to this disease through suicide and complications.

i haven't been on here in a loooong time but i wanted to touch onone thing that you said about 'not being that sick and never having been that sick' and that your friend had battled for 16 years and you for 4. i have felt similarly in the past and there was nothing that could have changed how i thought. i still often feel that i was never 'that sick'. what i have come to understand that regardless of severity of physical illness and regardless of length of time symptoms are exhibited, there is no measurement to be put on the emotional pain that we experience as eating disorder sufferers.

so you may have had symptoms for the past 4 years but how long before then did the negative mindset exist inside you and hurt you and hold you down? i know what drove me to anorexia existed from very early in childhood but my symptoms of anorexia didn't start until i was a teenager.

there is no need to compare because anyone who experiences an eating disorder for 6 months or 40 years is in pain and deserves unconditional love and safety to get better and regarless of length of suffering from symptoms, there is always the possibility of recovery and wellness.

keep believing. you are amazing!!

neonorangeds said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend! I think that she would be proud of you for taking something positive away from the advice that she gave you -- and happy that she inspired you.

You, in turn, inspire so many other people out there.

Just from reading the words you write, I too believe that you will one day be fully recovered.