Dear Anorexia,

Photo Illustration by Daniel Bowyer

Photo Illustration by Daniel Bowyer

We developed a close bond, so much so that I felt as though I could not live without you. You entered my life when I was about 16, a very impressionable age in my life. At first, you made me hate myself. You reminded me just of how unworthy I felt to be living. You pointed out all my flaws and imperfections. Then, you led me down a rocky road I traveled on for many years, the road to starvation.

You consumed my entire being. You controlled who I hung out with, what I thought about, what I wore, and what I ate. You made me believe that I was not good enough, and that I never would be. Oddly enough, you also convinced me that I could be good enough by losing weight. Although, no matter how much weight I lost, it was never enough. It would never be enough. I believed I could only be okay with you in my life.

What I weighed equated to how worthy I was to live. If I had gained half a pound, you made me believe that I was an absolute failure, and that I would need to compensate for my failure by starving myself a bit more that day. Even though I was not happy, and even though I sometimes fainted when I would take a hot shower, I believed this is how I needed to live.

In retrospect, I knew I was hurting myself and that I was slowly dying. But you told me this is the only way I would be loved by others. You made be believe I would like myself more with every pound I lost. I hated myself. I gained a sick sense of control and happiness when the smallest pant size available at J Crew would be too big on my body.

You blinded me. Every time I would look in a mirror, I would see a distorted version of my body. I could not see clearly, let alone think clearly. My daily thoughts consisted of what I could eat that day, how I would get out of dinner plans with my friends, and when I could next weigh myself.

But you did serve a purpose in my life. You gave me a false sense of control and stability when life seemed unbearable. You made me completely numb to all those feelings I had been trying so hard to suppress. Those emotions scared me, so much so that I would rather lose the feeling of joy and happiness than come anywhere close to feeling those oh so terrible feelings. Although I used you as a way out of my emotions, I was in need of a healthy coping skill.

Now, I do not need you. Through rehab and therapy, I learned and realized how much you had been hurting me and those around me as well. I gained the skills and the emotional strength that stopped me from turning back to you, as you almost killed me.

I sometimes used to romanticize having you back in my life. It was easy to do during hard times when I did not know how to deal with my emotions, but then I remembered all the bad times we had. Like that time you made me stick to an iced coffee only diet for three weeks before my senior prom. I succeeded in my weight goal I had set, but at what price?

I do not want to die anymore. I do not need you anymore. I am strong enough to deal with my emotions now. I now know a life with you will only lead to my early death. And I choose to live. We are done.