Each of My Eating Disorders is a Ghost Story

Grab the flashlight– place it below your chin. These are the harrowing stories a lot of people have but few share. This is how I free the monsters under the bed. This is how I regale you with my eating disorders. This is not a happy ending, not a fairytale. I am neither the protagonist nor antagonist, just the setting of the story.

Bulimia made a haunted house of my body, made my bones creak and my mouth a trap door. There’s entry but it is destinationless. I feel like she’s still around, that she never leaves. Bulimia is the unwelcomed dinner guest.

Anorexia– how I became a mummy inside of myself, a dead girl who still has a pulse. I didn’t want to feel. I relieved in anorexia’s simplicity—to sew all my energy into starvation. How harvestless an effort it was, how it kept me among the walking dead.

Binge Eating- Attack of the food. Attack of my desires and appetites. It unleashes like a titan over the cabinets and the fridge. I am a werewolf who pecks sparsely in the light only to feast ravenously after everyone else has gone to bed. Just like those monster movies, I try to keep BED hidden. But at brunches and potlucks, she bursts through the barricades of my self discipline.

Orthorexia, the horror story that conned me, lulled me into the comfort of health only to grow fangs as an obsession, restriction. Orthorexia is the smiling neighbor being the picket fence. She says she is healthy. Before I know it, She’s taken me hostage inside my own body. She tells me what foods are good and which ones are bad. I cannot stray from her restrictive guidelines.

Exercise Bulimia, or a Clockwork Bulimia— I count time with the elliptical more than the clock. Rotation after rotation on the machine, I try to pedal away from shame, from fears that I am unlikable. I am trying so hard not to grow into the monster I believe myself to be by staying small. I trade purges for sweat sessions. If I worship at the feet of exercise, I pray there will be so little of me that I’ll never be too much.

Recovery is not the fairytale, but it is the plot twist. Recovery is the happy ending I have to choose every day. And there are days that I miss being haunted, when I grieve the phantom company of my disorders. I revisit the chapters through the skim of dieting. I yoyo and the scale shows it. I own pants in sizes 2-12. There are times that recovery feels like an afterlife, an epilogue. Like it’s not the main part of the story. But the story of my life is far more interesting than what i eat or weigh or look or even how I’ve hurt myself and recovered.

There’s no Van Helsing to slay these things. The closest thing I’ve found is to chase the big things in life— go on that trip, go to that concert, ask that hottie out, dance naked in your bedroom, make friends, snag that job, go back to school. When I step up to my potential, my disorders shrink. My ambition forces me to prioritize selfcare because I crave achievement over thinness. When pizza seems scary, I remind myself that voice is not my voice. It’s the goblin of diet culture. I tell him to fuck off, and I eat the damn slice and live my life.

When I was 23, I went on a mission to but I all the things I was told girls like me shouldn’t wear: white pants, a mini skirt, patterned pants, etc. No hex was put on me. I did not burst into flames for crimes against fashion. I try to rebel against all the things I was told women are “supposed to be”. In that way, I’ve become my own Van Helsing, my own Ghostbusters. Hell, I’m Sigourney Weaver in every movie she’s in!! I am strong enough to fight every nightmare eating disorder because I feed myself every day. *shuts flashlight off* *turns on nightlight*

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