“I can’t live with you, and I can’t live without you—that one sentence just about sums up our relationship. For anyone who doesn’t know what you’re like, let me explain what I mean by that.
I can’t live with you: when you’re around I can’t have fun, or have a worry-free head, or eat what I want without fear of something bad happening. You pretty much stop my life in its tracks, and make me as miserable as you can, until you decide to eventually give me a break—you’re not very good at that last thing, by the way. I can’t live without you: firstly, if we were going to get all scientific about it, then of course I could. You’re like some kind of useless organ I don’t technically need, or want, for that matter—but yet, you’re still inside of me. A part of me I can’t get rid of, no matter how hard I try. I’ve faced you head-on, and attempted to push you to the back of my mind—and still, you’re always there. In my head, all the time, every day. That’s why, science-y stuff aside, I suppose I’ve grown to need you in my life to some extent—I bet you’re loving this, aren’t you?
Even so, you’re a pretty difficult thing to admit to everyone else; until not long ago, hardly anyone knew you even existed. Some people knew I wasn’t eating properly for a period of time, and that I had a bit of an issue with food—because that’s what I told them. Others didn’t know anything was wrong, at all. Not bad, considering I’ve been putting up with you every day for three years, right?
Then again, what was I supposed to say? ‘Hey, everyone. Let me introduce you to the weird eating disorder ruining my life.’ Exactly. I thought not.
Anyway, the reason I’m saying all of this to you now is because you’ve never really heard my opinion before. Usually, as I’m sure you’re aware, I just sit back and let you program my brain into thinking what you want it to, consisting of things like:
‘If you skip this meal it doesn’t really matter.’ Or, ‘Not eating is quite easy when you get the hang of it.’
You always have an opinion on stuff no one else I know even thinks about, which is somewhat hard to deal with when I can’t ask them for their opinion of you.
I’ve never really been a confident person, and you know that all too well. I think that’s why you chose me to be your next victim that fateful night. Although, looking back, it’s sort of as though I chose you—because you didn’t exist, like you do now, straight away. In fact, you didn’t really exist at all, at first. Then once you did, BAM! Life ruined. Sometimes, you make things so hard and complicated that it would be a lot easier for me to just give in—but I never have. Speaking of existing, since you came along I’ve spent the majority of my time wishing I was invisible. Seriously. Like a ghost kind of invisible. Because if I didn’t exist anymore then you wouldn’t, either—and life would be pretty good then, wouldn’t it?
Then I thought:
‘Hang on, I’m supposed to exist–but you’re not.’
And that’s kind of the point of why I’m writing this.
You’re not supposed to be invading every inch of my brain every second of every day, and you’re not supposed to be invading the brains of 1.25 million others, just in the United Kingdom, either. Still, somehow, you do. You live inside every single one of those people; you love nothing more than making all of our lives hell. I can’t contemplate the thought of that many people feeling how I’ve felt for the past three years—because of you. I don’t know how you get away with it. Saying that, it’s unbelievable how much food I’ve managed to get away with not eating—just because you said not to.
That’s why you’re smart. I can’t argue with that. I don’t know how, but you have this way of making me listen to you, above anyone else—even though they are much nicer to me than you are—and for whatever reason, I can’t help it. You’re still trying to give me advice now that I’m doing better, and I take it… with a pinch of salt most days.
Even with the best will in the world, nobody around me understands what it’s been like to have you in my brain 24/7—and I doubt they ever will. In a way, I wish you’d never been a part of my life—but you are, and there’s not really a great deal I can do about it. If there was, I would have got rid of you ages ago.
Sometimes I feel like saying, ‘Can’t you leave me alone for just a day, and go and bug someone else?’ Not that I want you to, deep down, because I wouldn’t wish you on anyone.
At your worst, you made me hate myself a lot—and I mean A LOT. I probably hated myself more than I hated you—and I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel that way. That’s part of the reason I’m not keeping you a secret anymore; maybe the more I talk about you, the less you can hurt me, and you’ll finally leave me alone. If it actually works, I’m going to encourage everyone else who puts up with you to do the same.
You’ve never really listened to me before, so maybe telling you all of this stuff is pointless. Maybe you’re not even listening now. Even if you are, it’s not like you’re going to feel sorry for me after everything you’ve put me through.
Regardless, maybe one day in the future you won’t exist, but I still will—and then I’ll realize I can live without you, after all.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jess Hempshall of South Yorkshire, England. You can follow her journey on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more amazing stories about eating disorder recovery here:
‘No one else has the guts to tell you this, but you look like a crack addict.’ I was surrounded by a looming cloud of self-hatred.’: Woman beats lifelong battle with eating disorders, ‘I get up every day and fight for my life’
‘Our beautiful, once vibrant Sarah is now a shell of a human.’ I was spiraling out of control. A monster was being born.’: Young woman overcomes eating disorder, ‘struggling is not a character flaw. You are worthy of help.’
‘I grew up fat. I’d gotten down to eating only 1 orange a day. Then I got the phone call. My mother had died.’: Woman overcomes eating disorder, childhood trauma, ‘Cheers to a new year. And a new me. Everyone loves a good comeback, right?’
Do you know someone who could benefit from this story? Please SHARE on Facebook to let them know a community of support is available.