May is a very painful month. During the past couple of years, I always ended up being so exhausted and physically incapacitated. Pursuing my studies, trying to maintain a social life, desperately trying to keep my job and some sort of sanity was too much for me and I just was not able to make it. I always ended up in a very dangerous state and most of the time I was hospitalized by the end of the month. For me, spring is often associated with painful memories.
This year, things are different.
I have realized many things throughout this process, but one of them came to mind today.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking that life is a true gift and I remain thankful for every opportunity I have been given lately. Things aren’t perfect and don’t always go as planned, but I remind myself that I am well and alive. I am attending all my classes at university, I have a boyfriend, I take care of my dog, I manage to keep my friends and maintain helpful and healthy relationships. I nourish myself the way I am supposed to, according to my needs and my desires. I have a job and I am capable of keeping it.
I mean, yeah, I would love to be done with my degree and I wish I had more time for my friends and I wish I had more time for yoga and knitting. I wish my room could stay clean and I wish I had a better opinion of myself. I wish I could forgive some people and I wish I had a better relationship with some family members. I wish I wasn’t so insecure and emotional, I wish I had better grades and I wish I could tell you what I truly want to do with my life. But the thing is, life isn’t perfect and I am trying to live with that and be okay with the fact that I struggle sometimes and that I am not always in control.
Two years ago I told my psychologist I could never imagine a life where I didn’t want to kill myself. I was 20 back then. I remember saying to her: « I don’t understand how people make it to 40 years old without killing themselves. » I didn’t get it. Stuck in my depression, my eating disorder, the constant feeling of failure and the loss of energy, of motivation… I thought I had no other option.
Truth is, there are a lot of options out there. I just was not able to see them. Suicide should never be an option, even when you feel like there is no other way out.
I just turned 22 and looking back, I am glad I managed to fail that day I tried to kill myself. I am proud of myself for pushing through what I remember as the darkest period of my life.
I don’t really know what came first: my depression or my eating disorder? What I do know is that for me, they basically came hand in hand.
Yes, I have gained weight. And yes, I have more fat and my size is not what it used to be.
But you know what? That’s ok.
Having fat is okay. It’s fat. It can’t hurt you. It can’t harm you. So what if you’re not the size you used to be? So what your body is not shaped like the body they are trying to sell us as being « the norm »? So what you gained weight? You have fat. Everybody does. Fat is part of our bodies. We need it to survive and to stay HEALTHY.
As I remember the depths of my eating disorder, I remind myself that being uncomfortable with my body is nothing compared to the pain, the fear, the constant unsatisfaction and the tireless torment I felt every single day while I was struggling. Waking up and wondering how I would be able to go through my day and having no other thought than what I should not eat was a fight I could not win.
Yes, things aren’t easy at the moment. But I will take the discomfort I feel regarding my body over the pervasive, painful, and sick thoughts I had when my eating disorder had the best of me.
Because the truth is, having fat is not as painful as wanting to end my life.
And no matter what I am struggling with at the moment, right now I am simply happy to be alive and to be able to continue on with my life.
I am not saying that recovering from my eating disorder got rid of my depression. I am saying that allowing myself to heal, and allowing myself to take care of my body and my mind has given me the opportunity to also treat my depression and to work on my thoughts. You can’t work on your thoughts when all you can think of is food and compulsive behaviors. Through my eating disorder recovery, I have learned to treat myself with respect. I have learned that I am worthy of love, care and happiness.
Two years ago I never thought I would be able to live a normal life.
What are my thoughts this year now that May has come?
I think that I have come a long way and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me in the future. The best is yet to come.
If you need to talk, these resources are always available:
Suicide-Action Montréal: 1 866 APPELLE (1 866-277-3553)
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (for ages 20 and under)