“I fought a war to walk a gang plank
Into a life I left behind
Windows leading to the past
Think it’s time I broke some glass
Get this history off my mind”

Caves, Jack’s Mannequin

A few days ago a friend of mine that I met during my last hospital stay uploaded a picture of himself onto Facebook. This would have been no big deal had there not been a tube in his nose. I actually didn’t even notice it at first, but from the picture’s caption I gathered that he was in treatment again. I was immediately glad that he seemed to be getting help, but also distraught over the picture.  He’d never needed a tube before — was he refusing to eat? How sick had he become?

I hadn’t seen this friend in months but I could tell from FB pictures that he was looking worse and worse. I’d reached out to him on several occasions but we never really got it together. I couldn’t be bothered to go further out of my way for someone who simply could not appreciate my friendship. I wanted to help him — hell, I bought him an entire goodie basket of protein drinks and bars over Christmas — but he wasn’t in the state of mind to really accept my support. Whenever we did get together, our conversations would revolve entirely around eating disorders. Instead of feeling happy about seeing him, I would leave distressed over the fact that all we had talked about was our respective disorders. That wasn’t healthy for him or for me.

I went through a shock of emotions after seeing my friend’s picture. At first, I was hopeful. I worked furiously on gathering up gifts to send to the center where he’s receiving treatment. I remembered when my friend from high school, Molly, sent me a care package chock full of amazing gifts during my last hospital stay. I’d actually been discharged by the time her box arrived at the hospital, but when I opened it at home I was ecstatic and so grateful to have her as a friend. Her gift made me feel loved, and I wanted my friend to feel the same way.

Next, I was angry. Angry at my friend, angry at myself. I was angry at him for posting such a triggering photo onto Facebook. Perhaps he didn’t think it would triggering, but I found it to be very much so. I immediately compared myself to him. I decided that I’d never been that “sick” and privately insulted the severity of my own eating disorder. It’s a strange thing that to someone with an eating disorder, being very sick can be a good thing. Being super sick is almost something to aspire to — when I was in a bad way, I wanted to see my bones, all of them. Any that I did see were never good enough. My sickness what slight and unworthy in comparison to his.

Upon seeing his picture, I was envious of my friend. Envious that he got to remain in the clutches. Jealous that he’s still so skinny. Ridiculously enough, I was envious of his treatment center! I looked it up and the photos show exquisite bedrooms and living rooms, all nicer than my own house. Although treatment centers often seem like hell on earth to a person with an eating disorder, I was so relieved the last time I stepped foot into the hospital. I knew I would finally be given a break from the hell that was my eating disorder; I would be able to start functioning again. Some of my best friends are those I made while we were mutually in treatment together. There’s something about sharing something so personal with each other and living in close proximity that makes it easy to develop extremely close friendships. I was jealous of my friend for having such a great opportunity.

Finally, I was sad. Sad and still angry with myself that I could feel all of these evil, awful things. That I could possibly, in the depths of my mind, want to go back to treatment. That I could want to be sick again. I don’t want to go back to treatment. I don’t want to be sick again. I have fought so hard to be where I am today. It wouldn’t be fair to myself or my recovery to turn back now. And I won’t. I know that where I am is infinitely better that the place where my friend is. Sure, he has support 24/7. But I have a life. I am living. I wouldn’t say I’m thriving yet, but the possibility’s there. Never before have I had such potential. I wouldn’t give that up for the world, much less an illness.

I love my friend and I want to be there for him when he returns home. I want him to feel comfortable reaching out to me. I want him to actually reach out to me, because he never has before. I don’t want my own emotions to get in the way of my ability to be a positive influence on him. I know that I am bigger than the thoughts that sometimes plague me.

Also, I want him to try. To put up a decent effort. He owes that to his parents, to the treatment centers he’s stayed at, and to me. But also, most importantly, he owes it to himself.



Filed under ed, recovery

9 responses to “Caves.

  1. Your ability to be so open and honest is a credit to yourself. Thank you for sharing that post. We all have our own internal battles and the fact that you are brave enough to share yours sets you apart from other people. Most people out there do not ever consider what goes on in other peoples minds, and have such difficulty understanding certain illnesses. I hope that this reaches even just one of the many tunnel visioned parents or partners of someone with an eating disorder and gives them enough insight to be more of a support to their loved one. Very touching xx

  2. oh wow this is such a heart felt post. I can relate to you on this, I sometimes see pictures or hear about people I spent time in treatment with either back there or back in a bad state not getting help. Just be grateful he is getting help. don’t let that ed voice tell you that you were never that sick or that he is lucky for where he is. You and I both know where he is a dark place, one I personally never ever want to return to. Hang in there, it is a tough time but I think you know the head games your ed is playing.

  3. I can totally comprehend your feeling and thoughts,Katlyn,but you know… In the end,it’s always like we want what we don’t have.
    When I was in treatment,I wanted nothing but be at home again so I could make my own decisions again; when I was at home,I wanted to be in treatment again. It’s ridiculous,actually,because you could practically say I am NEVER satisfied with my situation,but I am well aware of that I would definitely better off without an unhealthily low weight,wothout my ED thoughts and struggles and without my anxiety.
    I’ve been forced to get a tube myself once,and you know what? I still didn’t feel “sick enough”. The tube didn’t change anything about my feelings; to my mind,I was still “not dangerously thin” or anything,I was just thin. No more and no less. Of course,I knew I was sick and had a problem,but “there sure were worse cases than myself”…
    What I want to say is it’s useless to strive for any foolish “ideals” your ED makes you believ in. In the end,no one of us needs the ED to identify ourselves – we need self-confidence and faith. And that is something RECOVERY gives us,not the disease.

    • Thanks for the comment. I totally agree with your comment — there is always someone sicker, worse off, etc. And I know some of the extremely sick cases were extremely sad ones. I know that rationally, I would never want to be that sick. It becomes that much harder to get well. Recovery is worth much more than any ideals, you’re right.

  4. Oh that boy.
    You know it’s been weird. Ellie went back. Mark went back. Now him. It’s like, is there some sort of relapse date I missed?
    But no, it’s so sad to see. These people who we saw towards the end of their stays, we know how capable they are of being happy, loving human beings.
    I know the feelings of being “nostalgic” for the eating disorder. I was at my worst both times in the fall, and it just feels like there’s something in the air and I just miss the way things used to be, when everything was relegated to what I could and couldn’t eat, whether or not my pants fit and how loose they were. Now it’s like eating is at the back {but still unfortunately present} but now it’s like “I actually have to be a contributing member to society and do school work and after school activities how do I how”
    I know that you don’t really miss it though, sort of a grass is greener on the other side. I saw pictures of you on Facebook {alright creeper alert} where you looked like you were having a really great time with your friends. Do you think you could have done that when you were so sick?

    Also, remember, it’s the treatment center website’s job to make you want to bed there. I don’t know if you were there when B-wine was doing the photo shoots for their website, but they had completely healthy, normal LITTLE KIDS {talking 8-10 here} hanging out and playing wii in the common room, making sculptures with model clay in art therapy {which we never even knew was there}, and hanging out in the rooms on their cell phones and laptops. {Which I think was the most glaring bullshit there was}

    • Oh, and I also meant to say making your profile picture you + a feeding tube is a pretty dick move. But whatever makes him seem “hard core” I guess

      • Haha such a dick move! I do think image matters to him a lot, which is kind of sad.
        Katie, you and I have like minds — I was thinking when I was with my friends that I wouldn’t be able to hang out and have fun if I were still struggling. You’re so right about that. It is weird to let go of everything that once seemed second nature…like you said about fall, summer was the worst season for me. I can really relate to that. I wish you lived closer. We would bash the hell out of all things ED.

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