I remember my mother, father, brother, and me standing over my grandfather’s hospital bed. I remember each of us, unable to speak, able only to silently move our eyes from the calm and peaceful face of my sleeping grandfather back to our own downcast and despairing faces. He was pale, thin, and shriveled up - as if the cancer had stripped away every ounce of his youth and vitality; I remember, with a sickened-heart, seeing him as more of a corpse than a man, as a part of some dead past rather than as a living part of my family. And as we stood there, staring down at him with our almost perfectly healthy bodies, I could not believe what I myself had become.
Suddenly nauseous and heavy, I remember motioning my head toward the hallway, muttering “bathroom” as I felt the weight of my body shift toward the door. I remember the brightness of the hallway lights dimming as my body turned to what I could only describe as lead. I remember seeing the door to the women’s restroom and how far away it felt to me. And I remember the sudden feeling of the hospital tiles - cold and welcoming at the same time - pressing against me as I lay motionless and cold, collapsed upon its surface.
The last thing I remember is someone saying my name, like a character in the movies hears before he or she dies a heroic death; and I remember only one thought, set on some infinite and horrifying repeat option in my numbed and terrified mind: “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.”
I knew I was no hero, and I knew that I did not want to die.
Doctors and nurses would later tell me I had experienced a hypotensive episode; my blood pressure had dropped critically low, to the point where blood was no longer traveling to my brain. A doctor would later also tell me that had I not been in the hospital, there is a good chance I would have died. The end of my episode did not end my low blood pressure, nor did it mark its beginning.
While seeing a cardiologist for my heart and blood pressure, the symptoms of my eating disorder were revealed not to me - but to my family and friends. And my low blood pressure was only one symptom of the disorder I had developed and fed into for more than a year: I was constantly cold, my fingernails were constantly purple or blue, my hair constantly fell out, I was constantly exhausted, and I found myself dizzy and fainting almost regularly.
And that is not mentioning the mental side effects of my disorder. When I was in the hospital on that day, staring at my grandfather - who would too soon after die of stomach cancer, I realized just how influential my eating disorder had been on and to my mind. When I stared at my grandfather, I recognized the skeletal figure as a part of the man he had become - because of the cancer that plagued his body, and by recognizing this, I was forced into recognizing the illness that plagued my own body.
I was seventeen when my parents learned of my eating disorder. A year passed, two years passed, three years passed, and then finally four. Five years have now passed since my disorder became a significant piece of my body, mind, and life - significance I felt a year prior to my parents’ realization and recognition of its existence.
At twenty-one, I am a fully functioning college student, and because of my age, weight, height, and other miscellaneous, outward characteristics, I can safely say no one would or will question me about a past eating disorder or about any other mental or physical illness. Despite this, my struggle within has never fully left me; it has not left me without inward, mental scars - sometimes present and sometimes seemingly nonexistent - but always just beneath the surface.
My grandfather’s cancer - with many of his symptoms quite visible and others not visible at all - did not wake my mind up to the symptoms and qualities my eating disorder instilled upon and within me; instead, his illness reawakened the self-knowledge and self-recognition that I needed to know I still existed and still had a chance. More of a chance than my grandfather would ever be given.
To truly live my life.
To exist and fight the illness within my mind that had plagued - and would continue to plague - my body for as long as I would allow it to. I say this not because my illness was more significant or less significant than my grandfathers - but because my grandfather’s illness made me realize I myself had an opportunity to change the illness within me and make whatever I could and would out of it.
And every person deserves such a chance and opportunity - even if they are unable to recognize it. They may wake up every day fighting a certain part of themselves that makes them the way they are. I know I do so every day; but knowing this and doing this makes me no less of a person holding no less of a chance at happiness and life than any other person may hold.
(via Dolce & Gabbana)
And this was the way I knew it would be. How I knew everything Had to be. How everything Has to be.
So why am I so surprised? Why do I continue to care and struggle so very much?
I tried. I really tried. And no matter how much I try or how much I tried, I can’t. I just can’t. The voice will never go away, will never disappear. And no matter how many times you tell me to be stronger than the voice, I will never be able to overcome it.
And I want to be sorry.
But deep down in my bones I know I still can’t be.
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Pretty sure I have no idea who you are, anonymous spambot. Thanks for the offer though.
But if I ever get the urge to go on a random site and listen to a message of complete and utter spam, I’ll definitely hit you up.
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