This letter is written by DayByDay, ‘A twenty-something Mental Health campaigner fighting for recovery from an Eating Disorder.’ on her blog, Day By Day Freedom. She wrote it in advance for herself to read in times of struggle with her recovery from her eating disorder. Having posted it so that other people could read, and perhaps gain something from it I thought the piece was touching.
On a personal level, I really could see myself within her letter at times of struggle in my own recovery. Her knowledge of the recovery journey doesn’t seem to necessarily make it any easier, however, her perspective on her recovery journey is beautiful and poignant. So here it is, her letter from herself, to herself.
I would ask you how are you, but I think that if you’re at a point where you need to read this then you must be struggling. That’s ok, that’s the point to the existence of this letter. I’m sorry that you’re finding things hard and are more than likely questioning whether to just give upon yourself. Lets just take a moment to really think about that. I know what you’re trying to do isn’t easy and that constantly challenging all those negative thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself is draining. It’s perfectly ok to be exhausted by it. it’s kind of expected. If it didn’t hurt than you would have done it a lot sooner and at home on your own. The thing is though that even before you started this you were more tired than you ever thought possible, at least this tiredness will eventually come to an end. You won’t be just sat there on your own anymore waiting to die. Surely that is something that you can hold on to – even if it’s just for a second.
I’m writing this and as of yet you haven’t gone into treatment. You are on a waiting list that might not end for another few weeks. Right now, you are barely hanging on. It’s hurting you, but it is worth remembering that, that is nothing compared to the day-to-day battle that’s been going on for months. Lately you have had to cancel a lot of plans because you were not strong enough to get off the couch. Your stomach hurts all the time, you’re struggling to breathe and on a night you lie in bed, your whole body riddled in cramps and try to figure out which one is a sign that your body is about to fail. Despite you not thinking your weight is that low, there is an awareness that this could kill you or at the very least destroy every hope that you had for the future, You’re not having fun love. There are days that you crave death again because you think it will be the only way to stop the torture going on in your head. This isn’t how you pictured your life, is it? Whilst you still insist on holding on to the Anorexia, you won’t ever be happy. You can’t be.
As the thoughts have gotten louder these last few months, you’ve wanted to turn inwards. You don’t have the energy for family or friends. Everything irritates the hell out of you and it’s been making you mean and short-tempered. It’s painful to talk and let’s be honest, you could be doing so much better work wise if your thinking wasn’t so clouded. All you want right now is to be healthy. You want a body that works, one that runs so well that you don’t even notice it. Most of the time you want this more than you want to be thin. Although thin for you doesn’t really exist. You’ve never felt it or seen it whether you were XXlbs or XXXlbs. So if that’s one of the reasons you want to walk away now, because your body image is unbearable and you feel uncomfortable in your skin, then don’t be so damn ridiculous. That comfort feeling for you has never existed and no matter how much weight you lose or how many times you have to break your body down to nothing, you will never find it. Haven’t you learnt yet that being ok with yourself has nothing to do with what’s going on externally? It’s not your body that you need to change, it’s your thought patterns. It always has been. Look kid, the purpose of this letter was never about making you feel worse about yourself. It’s an honest attempt to make you see that if you give up now then you will keep reliving the same shit in one continuous loop. It won’t ever be better. And you can tell yourself that this time it’ll be different, or your better off on your own or that if you go back to ignoring it then it’ll go away. None of those things are true. Instead all you will or may have is a degree but an inability to work. You will have a body that will hurt and has the potential to give up at any point. You’ll have love still but you won’t be able to really feel it. I know that’s not what you really want and if for one second you can forget about how much you hate yourself right now then I think you’ll see that’s not what you want either.
Anorexia has had such a big influence on your life, don’t you want to see what you’re capable of without it? I know you’re scared and angry and knackered. I hear all that but they can’t be a reason to walk away. At some point I hope you can start to believe that you deserve better. Two years ago you went into treatment the first time and you cheated yourself. The entire time you were there you had one foot on the exit ready to flee. You started screwing with your meal plan thinking that you knew better but you didn’t. You just couldn’t let go. Since you’ve left there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that you haven’t regretted your actions. Don’t make the same mistakes again. Use what you’ve learnt before.
I want you to be happy and that may mean that you have to be miserable for now but that’s fine. If it has to be that way in order for you to finally recover then that’s how it will be. There are no quick fixes hun. You can’t bypass how brutal this process is but if you trust it and stick with it then you will never have to do it again. It’s time to stop punishing yourself. I have faith in you and it is it within you to get through this. You already did one of the hardest things which was to admit that you needed more help. You would never have done that before. You know what you need to do…so stay. If this letter doesn’t have the effect that it is intended to then please go talk to someone. The worth thing that you can do is isolate yourself because all you will do is listen to the Anorexic voice telling you to come back. That can’t be an option. If you listen, you will end up killing yourself. I’m already getting closer to that with each day that passes and the only thing that stops me is the possibility that it will end, that I won’t have to spend another 10 or 20 years living this way. You give in now, you take away that possibility.
Stay. Fight through this. Don’t give up. Do it for you and because somewhere inside of you is the knowledge that you deserve better.
I am your past self and I am scared. Don’t carry that through to your future. Are you convinced yet to not give up? Or at least give it one more day? I hope so.
Keep going. It’s the one thing you won’t regret.