The feature photo of this post is me, sitting in the same tree in Portland, Oregon, first in 2006, and then in 2011.
I had a therapist who gave me assignments all the time and one of them was to write my own eulogy… for my funeral. She showed me how I was killing myself and people were distancing themselves from me to make it easier when I did die.
It was true, I felt alone in my fight, that no one cared if I stayed Earthside or not. Now, I realize that it was exhausting and people really didn’t know how else to help if I couldn’t help myself.
In the eulogy, I thought about all the things I would want someone to say about me, and I was hopeful that people would understand…
I thought about how I was kinder than people deserved, and that was my downfall. I wanted to be remembered as an athlete and sister. I thought about how my parents would be sad, but I’d be less of a burden without me being here. I hoped someone would say it wasn’t my fault, that I had a disease and I wasn’t selfish like many people said I was. I thought about my own struggles being over – I would be free.
The control I held onto with food and exercise, and what it robbed from me, almost did take my life. There were days that I wish it had. There were fearful days that I would have an excuse to exit my troubles. I was at the point that I was okay with it because I was tired of fighting… But, by the grace of something mightier than me, it didn’t.
That’s why I tell my story.
I heard a terrible, terrible story today of a girl who took her own life in Kentucky. I don’t know the details – do we ever get to hear the excruciating pain when someone wants to just go away? Do we ever get to know the depths of sorrow in time and respond with, “I see you. I’m here for you”? Not always.
My condolences go out to this girl, her family and friends, and the community who wished to surround her with love sooner than the funeral happening today. I hate to write this… but, it could have been me.
This is why I am unafraid of explaining the horrors of an eating disorder. It’s not only my story to tell about how it changes people – for better or for worse – and alters how families function. Because, every time I tell my story, I get a response saying things like this:
- I have a friend that I think has a problem. What do I do?
- I used to struggle with this EXACT same thing and thought I was the only one.
- It’s possible to recover? I had no idea.
- Oh, that’s a problem? I thought that was normal.
- I thought it was a weight/vanity thing you get over…
My story began with bullying and escalated because I didn’t have healthy coping mechanisms. I don’t know exactly why I chose to use an eating disorder, but I’m here now to speak on it.
Who knew the slightly-soft elite athlete and happy-go-lucky kid would almost die from this disease?
Who knew that I’d be laying on my literal deathbed with family members coming to say goodbye at 78 pounds?
And, who knew that only a couple of years later, I would be playing in a D-II National Championship volleyball match?
I believe that when we remain quiet about the issues near to us, we allow others to believe it’s no big deal. Let’s stay quiet. It’s kind of shameful and not something that should happen…
But, none of those people would have admitted they have a problem or reach out to their loved one if I stayed silent. We all suffer, and I know that the pain is worse when we experience it alone. So, I share to give hope that can’t otherwise be seen, and I speak about my journey to help the one or two people that should stay and fight.
It’s worth it. You’re worth it.