Content Warning: eating disorders.
A few months ago, I was aimlessly scrolling my Facebook timeline and I saw a blog post a friend had shared. It was titled 11.12.18 // Four Years Ago Today. The article was about her first inpatient admission to treat her anorexia. As I was about to click on the article, a wave of emotion hit me as I noted the date: November 12th. It was then that I realized an important anniversary of my own had come and gone – without my noticing.
Five years ago, on October 31st, 2013, I was admitted to Sick Kids’ inpatient eating disorders unit with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa hanging over my head. Every year since then, I have acknowledged this date in some way – whether on the phone with my mom, to my best friends, or simply to myself. This is partially due to the fact that I was admitted on Halloween – it’s a hard date to forget. But also, because it was the most significant date of my teenage years marking the beginning of an uphill battle.
As I sat reading over my friend’s beautifully written reflection of what she’s learned in the 4 years since her first admission date – I reflected on my own recovery. I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was five years ago; a shell of my current self, terrified, sitting in a hospital gown, taunted by the beeping of the heart rate monitor I was hooked up to. I often think of myself during that time as being a different person entirely; I was illogical, depressive and could not envision a future where I was simultaneously happy and healthy. Five years later, I can confidently say I’ve made it out the other side and am in a place where I feel both mentally and physically strong. That being said, it has been anything but easy and I’ve have had my fair share of slips along the way. I would not be where I am today without a number of medical professionals and more importantly the constant support of my family and friends.
To anyone struggling with an eating disorder – or any mental health challenge for that matter: I am so sorry. To say what you’re going through is difficult is a huge understatement. But you are strong. You can fight this – just don’t ever give up. I promise it gets better. Fuel yourself by spending time with your family, dancing with your friends, watching movies that make you cry with laughter – whatever it is that keeps you wanting to fight. One day, you too will look back and reflect on a significant date of your own. Noticing that arbitrary gap in time is all it takes in order to take a breath and acknowledge how far you’ve come in the past week, month, year – or five years.
If you know someone struggling with an eating disorder – let them know that you are there for them. Be patient. Be kind. Listen.
If a friend or family member is struggling with an eating disorder:
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder:
Lucie Quinlan is the Editor-in-Chief of MUSE Magazine.