An Open Letter to an Eating Disorder Survivor

An Open Letter to an Eating Disorder Survivor

From an Eating Disorder Survivor
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To all eating disorder survivors,

The physical pain is over. The days, months, or years of torment and mutilation you put your body through are over. Your strength was more powerful than your fears and you fought a fight so scary, it almost seems impossible to win. You did it, but that doesn't mean there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Though your physical state might be intact, your mental and emotional state may never be the same. There are certain aspects of your life that your eating disorder has changed forever and you might not know what those are, how they'll make you feel, or how you'll react to them. This letter is to recognize what some of those changes are, but more importantly, how they do not have to undermine the progress you have made.

*Disclosure: Not all of these are guaranteed. Some people might face all of them, some might face none, and some might face some not listed. None of this is scientific research, but based on my personal experience*

You might never forget how many calories, carbs, or fat are in certain foods, because you've memorized menus, recipes, and ingredient's nutritional information.

Your teeth might be stained slightly from the torture you put yourself through. Whenever you see your smile, it acts as a reminder of what you did to yourself, and there aren't enough whitening kits or filters in the world to change that.

You might not be able to step on a scale or use anything that associates weight with numbers. You might have to turn away and ask your doctor to not read the numbers out loud during annual visits.

You notice things in pictures that other people don't realize. When your Instagram feed floods with endearing comments from family and friends, you can't help but question if the picture was worth posting, or see the tiniest imperfection too small for anyone else to notice.

You might be embarrassed to admit you're still in therapy. Though you might not be physically harming yourself anymore, the emotional and mental toll the disease took on you in still relevant and you need that extra support… but you don’t want anyone to know.

You could have a difficult time accepting the weight you might have recently gained. The weight seemed like it took forever to come off, but is coming back quicker than expected… and that terrifies you.

Depending how long you've been a survivor, you might be scared to diet again. A lot of eating disorders start by attempting to better yourself, before it took a drastic turn. Gaining weight was scary, but losing weight could be even scarier.

There might be some foods you can't eat anymore because the taste of it reminds you of being sick.

You might associate memories with the damage your disease brought on or have flashbacks on certain holidays to the times you were sick and couldn’t enjoy those occasions.

All of these things are very possible, I know this because I face them, but this letter is to tell you that you are not alone.

I will always know that there are 150 calories in a bowl of Vanilla Almond Special K. My teeth are a tinted slightly yellow no matter how much I've tried to whiten them, and I hate having to defend why my teeth are my biggest insecurity. I have no idea what my weight is because I haven't been able to step on a scale since 2014, and I do ask my doctors to keep that information to themselves. I always criticize my photos before and after posting them. It's not that I don't like what I see entirely, it's that I see how round my face can look at my jaw line, or how my jeans hug my hips differently than they do to other girls. It's still difficult for me to talk about my days in therapy, but I know if I didn't have that support or gain the self-confidence therapy brought on I wouldn't be able to be so vocal about my story. When I first got better I was terrified at how quickly I was able to gain weight, but now 4 years into being a survivor I get scared to when I try to lose it. I cannot eat or even smell apple cider vinegar without being uncomfortable because it reminds me of when I used to take multiple shots of it daily because I read it could burn fat off faster. Every Easter is a reminder of the year I missed half of dinner because I locked myself in my aunt's bathroom, and every time I see a picture from my junior prom I remember my mom having to tape my dress to my body because I was too frail to support it.

Every survivor out there has a different story, but your story is important. It does not define you, but it did help shape you into who you are today. It does not make you weak, or fragile, and it does not have to fit into a mold of what society recognizes as an eating disorder. Whatever your struggles were and whatever they still could be you are not alone in this journey. If you share your story that's fine, if you prefer to keep it yourself that's fine. However you need to heal, you have to power to choose and control how that happens. So many eating disorders occur because we feel as though we've lost control of our lives in some dramatic way, but we can control the pain we inflict on ourselves and what we eat (or don't eat). But once you've beaten it, you'll realize that you are in control of your own destiny, and your life is one worth living.

I just hope that my story acts as a reminder that even though we might still have ghosts that haunt us, all eating disorder survivors are strong, are powerful, and are beautiful.

With all my love and support,

A bulimia survivor since 2014

Cover Image Credit: Google

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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The Truth About Narcan, Insulin, And Who Pays For What

"Stupid junkies, I have to pay for my Insulin but they get Narcan FOR FREE. Can you believe that?"

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Naloxone.

Let's talk about it. Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan or Evzio is a "medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose." According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Naloxone basically reverses the effects of an overdose.

As you see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every other social media platform in the world, "junkies" get indirectly bashed, undermined, and in a nutshell, told that they don't deserve a place on earth.

The most common argument used by "non-addicts" is "I have to pay for my Insulin for my diabetes, but they get Narcan for free? Wow, our government sucks and the system is a joke."

For those of you that don't know, diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to produce or respond to the hormone, insulin, is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

There are two types of this disease: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes that result from a variety of different factors. Diabetes can be acquired through genetics but can also be personally obtained through lifestyle, depending on the type. Aside from genetics and being born into a diabetic family, you may also be diagnosed with diabetes as a result of physical inactivity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and being overweight. In other words, if you let your body go, don't work out or do some type of physical activity, let your high blood pressure go untreated, and eat unhealthy foods; you have a chance of developing diabetes.

Next, let's talk about prices.

On average, Insulin costs $200 monthly. This depends on the brand, personal insurance, coupons, and other factors such as organizations that help people get cheaper insulin.

Narcan nasal spray costs $130 for a two-time use. You can buy it at CVS Pharmacy (and other pharmacies) in states such as Ohio, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin. Some of these states may require a prescription.

Now that you know that Narcan/Evzio isn't free, it's time to talk about other charges that are brought upon addicts when they overdose. If an ambulance is called, they have to pay for it. If they are sent to the emergency room, they also have to pay for that.

The idea that "junkies" get Narcan for free is something society has made up to make drug users feel even more guilt than they already do from having an addiction alone.

Believe it or not, most of us are addicted to something that can be fatal or cause illness/injury. If you eat processed foods or sugar ridden foods every day, chances are you have an addiction to sugar. The withdrawal that someone has from quitting sugar is similar to the withdrawal that one goes through from quitting heroin. You get a splitting headache, you have cold sweats, you are moody, and it makes you sick. If you drink coffee all day on most days and you try to quit, it results in an awful headache for a few days. The addiction to cigarettes and the withdrawal that people go through for that speaks for itself; we all know a smoker or an ex-smoker.

Instead of following social norms, degrading drug users and putting ourselves on a pedestal because we don't use heroin or another "hard drug," we should advocate for the health and stand up for each other. If you see someone on the street that you know is a drug user, pull them aside and pray with them. Help them find a better life. Recommend church, rehab, or any other ideas that may be at your fingertips to mention.

The moral of the story is this: we all have an addiction, hypocrisy is at it's finest thanks to social media, and we are all human. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you judge them. It doesn't cost a dime to shed light on someone's life, especially when they are in need.

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