By Cami Julaine
Dear Eating Disorder,
I used to call you “Anna”, short for Anorexia. You were tall, tan, and lean-everything I am not. But that gave you too much power, the power you craved. The power you thrived on. So I changed your name to “Mia”, thinking that the shame of having bulimia might overpower the demanding urge to purge everything in my body, because I needed to be empty.
You manipulated me into naming yourself Orthorexia, which I thought was my friend because everyone expresses the importance of health: “Eat clean! Drink LOTS of water! Exercise daily! Don’t eat carbs. Cut out gluten! Go vegan! Animal products are bad for you!” No matter what name I gave you, how many different “personalities” you had, you always led me to the same thing: an incomprehensible demoralization.
The reality is, you are not the tall, tan, and lean “goddess” I thought you were. You are my ruminating thoughts at 2AM, obsessing if what I said to my friend the day before was okay, or maybe it offended them and now they’re mad at me, and suddenly I am convinced that maybe I’m better off dead since each time I open my mouth I make an idiot out of myself. You are my nauseated stomach churning hollow pangs of hunger every few minutes, and suddenly I am convinced that if I just sit through the nausea for a little while longer, it will burn some more calories.
You are drinking 7 liters of water to feel clean, and suddenly my electrolytes are drowned. You are eating clean because its good to “treat my body as my temple”, and suddenly I am eating just an apple a day. You are black and white thinking- On Monday I am starving myself, and by Tuesday I deserve to have a pint of ice cream, and suddenly I am washed over with guilt, hugging the toilet as acid sits in my throat and my eyes well with tears.
You are hundreds if not thousands of dollars spent on doctor appointments, medications, therapy, and suddenly I am convinced that I don’t have an eating disorder because I’m not even that bad, maybe I just have some anxiety. You are my numb fingertips and brittle nails, but suddenly I can feel my hipbones so I must be doing something right. You are days wasted in disassociation and depression leaving me with no energy but to lay in bed, and suddenly I am a lazy, unproductive human who is a failure at life.
You are panic attacks on the side of the road as the 911 dispatcher calms me down, and suddenly, I must be crazy, I must be really insane. You are a stroke at 18 years old, and suddenly I am stuck in a hospital getting an MRI. You are 3 funerals for 3 of my friends, and suddenly, I am baffled at that you actually killed them. You are a relapse after years of recovery, and suddenly, you are holding my hand again. You are sitting with me in my therapists office, fighting every direction she gives me, because YOU know better than her.
You are getting pulled into Treatment Team at your rehab center for rebelling time and time again. You are editing and photoshopping Instagram pictures, and suddenly I have 1,000 likes. You are keeping so busy that I don’t have time for anyone or anything, and suddenly, its been two months since I’ve taken my puppy for a walk. You are skipping holidays with friends and family because I might gain weight, and suddenly I’m home alone on Christmas. You are the incoherent sobs of panic while being alone, because “what if they leave you again and you end up all alone”, and suddenly, I self sabotage and isolate so no one can hurt me again. You are so much more than just food and weight. You are fear.
The truth is, Eating Disorder, I feel bad for you. I know you are trying to protect me from my past traumas and struggles. I know that you think it’s your job to help me cope. I know that you expect perfectionism out of me because I am a hard worker and I don’t give up. Your sense of reality is twisted. It is not real. It is a facade. And no one can see it but you.
Here’s what I also know: The reality is, you want me dead. I know you want to win. I know you don’t think that if I purge one more time I will die from you, but I will. I know you don’t think that chewing gum instead of eating my afternoon snack wont spiral into skipping dinner, but it will.
I know you don’t think that shopping at only health stores is dangerous, but for someone with an eating disorder, it is. Like you’ve taught me over and over, I am a stubborn woman. I refuse to slip into your darkness any longer. What you don’t realize is, I’m a lot stronger than you. I am smarter than you. I have tools now. And yes, you may always attempt to give me your two cents, but today I choose not to listen to you. I choose to live.
I release you into love and light.
Cami Julaine is a singer/rapper/songwriter and an aspiring actress. More importantly, she is an advocate for Eating Disorders, Trauma and Anxiety. Cami has spoken at multiple events on body image and has shared her personal story of anorexia/bulimia. You can follow her on social media:
Twitter – @CamiJulaine
Instagram – @CamiJulaine