As strange as it sounds, in many ways, Anorexia, or as I know her, Anna, is my best friend. When I’m sad she is there; there to hold my hand and there to comfort me. I don’t know how to describe it, but when everything else is too loud to process, the whispers of Anna are reassuringly familiar.
However, at the same time Anna is a constant, torturous and obsessive drill sergeant. Always checking, always counting, and always whispering every imperfection. My eating disorder is a physical manifestation of my inward anxieties, insecurities and past trauma. It is a medium where I can safely acknowledge my imperfections and faults without having to feel or deal with them.
Unlike some who say, “Anorexia isn’t a part of me, but rather an entirely different person”. I recognise, that in fact, Anorexia is very much a part of me. Anna, quite frankly, lives through the many facets of my psyche. The perfectionist me, the frightened little girl in me, the anxiety riddled me, and most of all, the ugly ominous part of me. I truly believe that everyone has an ugly part of themselves, which manifest in a multitude of unique ways. Mine just happens to manifest through Anna. The very unforgiving and manic Anna.
There have been numerous times when I felt like her rules and drills were too much; too strict, too monotonous, and too exhausting . There have been so many times I have tried to end it all. However, if she’s a part of me, then wouldn’t eliminating her eradicate a part of myself too? I know this reasoning is flawed, but in many ways, I think it’s why I’m still here, and why she is too. It’s taken me a long time to understand myself and why I can’t let go of this tumultuous friendship. Honestly, it’s because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of change. Afraid of losing my best friend and afraid of losing that sense of familiarity. I’m afraid to face what I know and so painfully want to achieve, but most of all, I’m afraid to acknowledge what I’ve missed and lost all these years.
The rational me knows that I haven’t been living, merely existing. But, for the many lows that I’ve been through, there have been many high points too. I think I’ve come to realise that life isn’t always about the highs or the lows, it’s about the in between.
I’m a dreamer, I’m ambitious, I’ve got such an inquisitive mind, and I want to make some difference in my lifetime, whether big or small. I want to leave a legacy. I’ve come to realise that my greatest fear is being mediocre, failing, and departing this world without leaving my mark. In a way, keeping Anna around gives me something and someone to blame if I fail.
It’s not about trying to erase my best friend entirely, but rather, turning her volume down and letting myself sit in my feelings instead of blocking them out. To grow, I need to step out of the known and dive deep into the unknown. My growth is dependent on my ability to push beyond that sense of comfortability.
I no longer strive for happiness alone. I want to feel everything I am capable of feeling. Love, joy, pain, sorrow and compassion are just of some of the many things that make me who I am, that make me human. All I strive for now is to be present, even if that means feeling uncomfortable, the chaotic messy kind of uncomfortable.
If you would like information, referrals and brief counselling for eating disorders, disordered eating or body image concerns, you can contact The Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 334 673.
This article appeared in the autonomous Disabilities edition, Disabled Honi 2018.