Don't Let Go
An essential part of not only recovery, but life, is having time at the end of the day to unwind. To find those rare moments throughout the day when you can tune everything out and just be at peace is priceless regarding your health and well-being. This time can mean many different things to different people….it could mean listening to your favorite songs on the way to work, therapeutic doodling (which I do way too often when I should be paying attention), or simply letting the sound of summer rain played by your Alexa drift you slowly to sleep. It can mean an infinite number of things, but simply put: just do what it is that makes you happy. Do what makes you happy, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Do what makes you happy, what makes the burdens on your aching shoulders lighten. Do what makes you happy, what frees your mind from the angst and stress of tests and work and reaching that weird age where you’re not a kid, but you’re not quite an adult either. Dare to discover that you too deserve happiness just as much as anyone in this world.
For me, this time is often spent scrolling through YouTube, watching videos on a multitude of subjects such as cute DIYs, comedical imitations, and naturally, being a senior and all, “day in my life: college edition” vlogs. So, a couple of days ago, during that rare and fleeting golden hour between finishing my homework and falling asleep, I went on YouTube, clicking on the first video that looked semi-interesting in my “Recommended for You” section. However, instead of finding the video amusing or smile-rendering, I was disappointed, and quite frankly, a little disgusted. This so-called “vlogger” thought it was appropriate to discuss intimate details with a world of strangers about one of her closest friends who had recently been having a hard time with body image issues. Instead of sharing supportive words or advice, she literally threw shade at her friend the entire time: i.e. snarky comments such as “Don’t be friends with someone who isn’t willing to put in the work” or “If you’re giving 98% to a relationship and the other person is only giving 2%, it is time to part ways.” Now, if her friend was completely fine and purposely ghosting her, this advice would probably be justified. However, what made me so upset was that not only her friend, but her best friend, was facing one of the darkest periods of her life right now and in desperate need of a shoulder to lean on, but instead, she received a jab in the heart.
Here’s what I wish to convey to that YouTuber, and to the whole world: You can’t expect people with eating disorders to give their all in relationships when 99% of them is being consumed by the toxic pattern of disordered thinking. As much as they might want to, people struggling with eating disorders often cannot reciprocate the same dedication and devotion poured into relationships because they themselves are trapped in the most abusive relationship of their lives. I know it is frustrating and seems selfish, but take into account that the suffering, in their exhausted mental states, have very little energy to simply throw around. So, if you find yourself putting 98% into a relationship with someone facing such internal battles and only receiving 2% in return, just remember that your friend is not herself right now. She is being manipulated by a harrowing voice, and if you ever want to reach that great, mutual, equilibrial relationship again, be patient and show support even though you may not receive gratitude in return. If a relationship is truly genuine and worth fighting for, then fight. Don’t let your best friend pull away, because she absolutely will try to. Don’t mistake her consumption in a war against a force trying to starve the life out of her as apathy. Don’t give up that easily on the ones you love, even though you can’t remember why you ever loved them at this moment.
During my darkest days, I was not the greatest friend. I often made excuses so I wouldn’t have to hang out with my friends. I pretended that I didn’t read the “Feel better! You got this!” text messages sent to me, because I was too drained to think of a thoughtful and appreciative response. I was so engrossed in my own problems that I would go for days without asking my friends how they were feeling. Trying to find the will to be a positive and supportive influence was impossible when the only “food” I was consuming were the lies that Ana force-fed me. I did everything I could to alienate myself….it seemed like I was almost asking for my friends to just give up. But, they didn’t. They texted and called continually, even when they often expected no response in return. They visited me at the hospital, even when I was so down and so homesick that I couldn’t smile in appreciation. They showed me unconditional selflessness and friendship and compassion. They were there through it all, refusing to just let me slip away into an abyss of self-hatred and depression and hopelessness. They wiped my tears, held my hand, and supported my resting head when I was a mere puppet controlled by some horrible force. They helped me become me again, and words cannot express the overwhelming gratitude I feel. I used to spend hours wondering how I became so lucky as to have such amazing friends, but now, I just try to enjoy the fact that I do. I am lucky, and my friends are amazing, and I, too, am trying to convey that same sympathy they showed me for all those years. Thanks to their persistence and efforts, I am now able to put 100% into maintaining and expanding upon our friendships. So, before deeming a relationship irrevocably broken, provide consolation—glue the pieces back together because with your help, your friend can recover. And only once your friend recovers can he/she be your shoulder to lean on, your hand to hold, and your person to explore the vast world with.