Sunday was the Baltimore NEDA Walk, where I walked with a group of women from treatment as well as a couple of my family members; we called ourselves StrongHer. I couldn’t be more proud of my team – we raised over $3,600 for NEDA, making us the top team in fundraising. The girls (and my dad) rock – we really came together and kicked some ass, and I think doing the walk was a really big step in our recoveries. It was a public acknowledgment of our drive to support one another and it strengthened our personal commitments to our own health – all wonderful things. Needed things.
The walk gave me a high of good feelings, but they didn’t last very long. When I saw the pictures from the walk later that day, I got upset: I thought I looked awful. And it wasn’t just that I looked awful, but rather that I had been happy and having fun in total ignorance of my appearance. The eating disorder’s voice was kicking up like a howling wind in my head, drowning out the rational thinking and coping skills I learned in treatment: How dare I be happy, especially while looking so terrible? I should be embarrassed. I don’t deserve to be happy, not while my stomach bulges and my skin is breaking out and my face looks full. Other people can be happy, yeah, but not me. Not when I look like such a goddamn fool.
These past couple days I’ve struggled hard: aside from my eating disorder symptoms, I’ve had urges to self harm again and to act out in other ways, anything to “punish” myself for being what I feel is a disappointment, anything to dull or escape these feelings. I am really overwhelmed by my weight gain and don’t know how to cope with it in a healthy way; I can’t look at myself in the mirror without loathing what I see. It’s tortuous, and the worst part is that it’s all in my head.
But that means I can change it, right?