So, my essay “Not Otherwise Specified” went up on Entropy yesterday. This is exciting news because I’m officially a “regular contributor” there, but complicated news because I believe the piece requires a bit of a disclaimer.
Please, please, please, if you are suffering/recovering from an eating disorder, beware that this essay is potentially very triggering. I know from experience that any literature on EDs–even the self-help books!–can lead you to a dark place. So, please, loves: take care of yourselves.
And a little more context for the piece: it’s a bit of an oldie, written in January-ish of 2016, back when I was struggling with a really severe ED relapse. I was at the point where I realized how destructive my behaviors were, and I was starting to piece together how/why I’d gotten where I was, but I still hadn’t sought professional help. I think, though, that writing through the memories in “Not Otherwise Specified” gave me the perspective I needed. Shortly after I finished the piece, I set up an appointments with a therapist and a doctor, and making those appointments was probably the best decision of my life.
Recovery is long. It’s lonely. It’s a whole lot of stumbling around the halls of your brain, shouting for help and realizing that no one is coming to your rescue; you have to save yourself. Yes, a therapist/counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist can be an invaluable, life-saving asset in the saving-yourself process, but you still have to save yourself. And recovering from an ED (yes, I’m fully recovered–cue T-Swift’s “Clean”!!!) finally answered the questions I pose throughout “Not Otherwise Specified”–the questions about who I am, how I define myself, what’s important/lovable/valuable about me. See, an ED is tricky because it convinces you that it is what’s good about you. Not only is that untrue, but it gets you into a pattern of forming destructive, codependent relationships; i.e., relationships wherein you rely on someone/something else to tell you who you are.
It is only appropriate, then, to end this somber disclaimer with a pep talk from my best friend: