I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder my junior year of high school, after almost 4 years of fighting it. Like everything else I’ve done in my life, I thought I could take it head on. I thought it would be me eating meals and gaining the weight back and then everything would be fine and I’d be better. I didn’t realize how much went into it. I didn’t realize that it was really about numbing out and about dealing with painful things and anxiety. I didn’t realize that, almost 4 years later, I’d still be fighting every single day. I also didn’t know how many people I’d have on my side, how many incredible people I’d meet along the way, and how much support I’d gather.
After being diagnosed that initial time, I saw a therapist and dietitian, and did a support group at my dietitian’s office. I’m writing this because I just found out that a girl I did that initial support group with in high school passed away. I’ve been sitting here trying to process it with no avail. I didn’t know her well, but the fact that another life is lost to this disease is breaking my heart. My facebook feed is full of posts about her, from various friends who I went to treatment with who were at other treatment centers with her.
When i think about that group I did in high school, I smile. The girls I met there are kind and successful and intelligent and passionate and, for the most part, are all off living their lives, eating disorder free. But not everyone is, and every time I think about that, the tears start rolling again. I got really lucky. I got the treatment I needed and my insurance covered the exorbitant costs and I have so much support. But not everyone can tell this tale, and I feel crushed just thinking about that.
Things got better for me. They got better and are so much better than I ever thought they could be. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go out and, on a whim, eat a cheeseburger and fries. 15-year old Jordan didn’t even see that as a possibility, and now it’s just a thing I do. Things got better and I waited and I am so thankful that I let this play out. But that’s not everyone’s experience. This is is the third death of someone with an eating disorder that I or my friends have known SINCE JULY, and it’s not okay. I’m sitting here and I am so angry and so sad and so shocked and I haven’t been able to even produce coherent thoughts. I need everyone to understand the severity of this. I need you to understand that throwing around “anorexic” or “bulimic” as a joke isn’t funny, and that when you start to notice a friend skipping meals or binging or purging, you ask them what you can do to help. I need insurance to start covering treatment, so that families don’t have to pay upwards of $70,000 for their loved ones to get the help they need. I need schools to educate kids on more than just the average anorexic ballerina stereotype. And mostly, I need to do this and be here to tell my story so that, when a fifteen year old seeks treatment for her eating disorder, someone looks her in the face and tells her that yes, recovery is hard, but yes, it’s possible.
My chest hurts and it feels like today, all i can do is cry. This could have been anyone. It could have been me or one of my friends from treatment. It feels like the easiest thing to do today is restrict and lay in bed all day. But life is about showing up and doing difficult things and talking about what hurts you. So here’s how I feel, tears and messes and snotty tissues and all. I’m so sad and I’m eating anyway, even though it would be easier to use my eating disorder to numb out some of this pain. Because life involves showing up, even when your world feels like it’s ending. I’m going to be here tomorrow and the day after and the day after that and a lot more days after that, because I’ve seen it get better. I am so thankful that I’m still here to see the sun rise and drink chai tea and pet dogs and hug my mom and dad and see the leaves fall. I am beyond grateful that junior year me and senior year me and college me didn’t give up, and that I get to live this beautiful life. Not everyone gets that.
I read a quote today- “I can bear any pain, as long as it bears purpose.” And it made me angry. People shouldn’t die from this disease, but they do. This pain feels pointless. This shouldn’t have happened. But i’m here and I’m bearing it because if I didn’t, that would mean giving in to my eating disorder. And I cannot bear to see another life lost to it.
Rest in peace, Nicole.