Eating Disorders: Serious Mental Illnesses, Not Lifestyle Choices

Currently, National Eating Disorders Awareness week is underway and does not officially end until Sunday, March 4th. This week is the perfect opportunity for people to share their stories and thoughts about eating disorders in hopes of combating the stigma and stereotypes associated with eating disorders, such as the idea that those who suffer from anorexia are “attention-seekers.” While it is great that there is a specific week particularly dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders, the reality is that the conversations must continue year-around. Eating disorders have debilitating consequences, both physical and mental and span the entire world.

In fact, did you know that every 62 minutes at least one person dies due an eating disorder? Or that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness? These are just a few of the horrifying statistics shared from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

My point being is that the person that you see strolling by or sitting next to you may have a hidden eating disorder. Those with eating disorders are highly secretive and perhaps ashamed. It is our duty, regardless of if you had/have an eating disorder or not, to remain adamant, determined and vocal about eating disorders so that the silence is eradicated and people can openly get help once and for all. Hence, here is a creative writing piece dedicated to National Eating Disorders Awareness week to encourage discussion and awareness.

She was I

I glanced around,  

hoping to find familiar faces.  

Among the sea of circular blobs,  

I caught a glimpse of a figure.  

 

A figure that resembled someone --

a person that belonged in my past.  

 

Walking forward,  

I unknowingly took steps backward into my past.  

 

My thoughts wavered,  

but my feet carried on with a purpose.

 

Minimizing inches between us,  

the figure became strikingly visible.  

 

Only seeing the back of the figure,  

I could only make sense of the basics.  

 

Her hair was golden brown,   

yet fragile and frayed like a broken rope failing to do its job.

Her arms were foreign to her own body,  

as they rarely touched her sides.  

Awkwardly,  

they danced around with the air separation between them.  

Her feet trudged forward,  

as they were hesitant of the distance she had yet accomplished.  

 

Something seemed off-putting about the figure.  

She didn't belong here.  

 

Quickening my pace,  

I neared towards her.  

My eyes traveled over to the figure while my face remained stagnant.

 

Glancing,  

I mentally took notes --  

her face was covered by white paint.  

Her hands quivered,  

competing with the weak elderly nearby.  

Her cheeks sunk in,  

more so like the Titanic.  

 

The figure's legs froze.

Standing there, I watched her stand still.  

Why could I not simply walk over and greet her?

 

As if to challenge the distance between us,  

she became unfrozen and turned towards me.

 

As she inched closer,

my heart began to alarmingly waste away.   

Emptiness started to gnaw at me.  

My clothes no longer made contact with my body.  

 

She stood before me,  

and everything began to fall to apart.  

Crumbling,  

I collapsed to the ground.  

 

Hovering over me,  

she smirked.  

Screaming,  

I realized why she looked familiar.

 

She was Ana --  

who burrowed deep inside of me

and overtook my appearances.  

She was I --

She was who I was.  

 

She was my mirror.  

She was who I used to look like.  

 

Her thin hair was my hair.

Her delicate arms were my arms.

Her heavy feet were my feet.

Her pale face was my face.

Her trembling hands were my hands.

Her shallow cheeks were my cheeks.  

 

She looked sick --

but I didn't.

 

She was dying --

but I wasn't.  

 

She no longer burrows deep inside of me,  

but she still haunts me.

She persistently stalks me,

and waits to catch me off guard.  

 

I was fooled once --  

but I got off from the ground and brushed myself off.  

 

She cannot win --

she must stay trapped in the past.  

 

I must not get fooled again.