Ever try to imagine what it looked like to an outsider as you fell deeper and deeper into your eating disorder? The skipped meals, the excuses, the lack of energy and lack of life. Early on in recovery I often wondered why no one had stopped me, why no one had saved me. But now I know – the only person you can save is yourself.
I know this now because I’m seeing my year in rewind. I’m watching one of my good friends and teammates “S” engage in the same disordered eating habits I exhibited last year. I hear her laugh off the “anorexic lecture” she received at the school health center after showing up after losing twenty pounds over the summer. I watch her attempt to power her skin and bone body down the pool. I see how she can barely muster up enough energy to lift the bench press bar. I hear her deny half a cookie, saying “desserts aren’t healthy” and I see her cut out cheese and butter and bread from her breakfast after morning practice. I saw her avoid food at our team get-together today. I see what other people saw when I was at my worst, and it chills me to the bone.
Over the summer I was thinking about my eating disorder and how well I hid it (or thought I hid it). I promised myself that if I ever thought a friend or teammate was going through the same thing, I wouldn’t just stand by and let it happen. I’d spring into action. I’d be a recovery superhero!
What I didn’t realize is that getting someone to realize they have a problem – eating disorder or otherwise – is a lot more complicated than just sitting down and asking them about it. One of our captains “C” went through an ED when we were sophomores and she helped me through the worst part of my ED, so we both noticed S’s “new” food issues. We decided to have a talk with her after practice, but we really knew how the talk would go. Unfortunately, S is in denial of her problem – she makes excuses for her new weight and denies any food issues at all (even going so far as to say “you guys know me – i LOVE food”).
But the excuses don’t fool me and C because they could have come straight from our mouths. They did come from us at one point. I feel like I set “rewind” for one year, and I’m sure C feels the same way. But most of all I feel sad for S because I watch her becoming entrenched. I watch her become more and more enslaved to her eating disorder, day after day. I feel sad for her because I know how hard it is to turn it around. And I feel powerless because I’ve done what I can do. I’ve tried to talk to her about it, revealed part of my story to her, and told her I care about her. C and I made our coach aware of what we think, and he says he’s going to take steps. I just hope and pray (extra hard today, God) that someone or something can get through to S. And I will be there to help her pick of the pieces.