I'd argue that life past hospitalization is harder than the stay itself. Sitting in my bed, I felt an odd sense of relief— I had starved myself so intensely, that I scared my friends, family, and medical team. In a weird way, I felt like I could finally stop. It wasn't the goal, but it was the end.
After I left, my first day on the outside was the toughest day I've ever had.
I found myself trying to hop back into my same routine when I had days off to myself — go shopping, buy something new to cheer myself up, grab dinner, and meet up with friends. I bawled in front of the mirror, and I couldn't get myself to walk into the grocery store. But the days got easier, the food began to flow, and from then on, I followed a very interesting path.
In the past year, I've found myself going down two roads simultaneously. On one side, I am becoming who I need to be, the healthy, curvy gal who would inevitably have to put on weight, or as my crappy boyfriend at the time put it, "just 10 more pounds to be attractive again." But after 14 months of recovery, I've discovered another side — a side that I hate. For months I have been petrified of exercising again. I've always loved being active, whether that includes learning to surf, swimming, hiking, hot yoga, volleyball, you name it! If I could somehow find a way to be decent at it, I loved it!
But now, I use my weakened heart as a scapegoat because I've exhausted my body. To this day, I do not have the endurance of a 21 year old girl. I pant after lifting glass racks at work, I make up lame excuses as to why I don't want to toss a volleyball around at the beach with friends, and I cling to the thought of being a grouch in the morning to avoid hike invitations. I'm scared. I'm scared to seem out of shape. I'm scared to give anything to my disordered brain to convince myself that I need to stop eating again.
I'm not happy; I'm stagnant and out of breath.
It's an interesting position to be put in. Attempting to lose weight is what got me into the position of not being able to maintain a healthy one. My muscular shoulders are nothing more than a skin and bone reminder that I almost killed myself. I'm stuck in this cyclical nature of hating how I look but being too afraid to try to do something about it. In the end, despite the lack of a clear outcome alongside a hopeful tomorrow, I can almost smile at this situation. I have my own attention. I'm listening. I will never put myself through the agonizing journey of starvation. I've seen the lengths that I can push myself to, I've scraped the point of no return, and now I know how to dive into it. If my body is still not the same the first time around, I can only imagine what a relapse would be like. In this state of discomfort, at least I can relish in the known fact that my heart will keep beating.