You didn’t know me, but you probably saved my life

Small towns are all I’ve ever known. I was born and raised in one. The kind of place where people have Sunday dinner with their grandmothers after church, Friday nights are spent at high school football games and a trip to Walmart is just as much a social event as it is a shopping trip. Every small town has unique qualities, and residents often believe that their town is superior to any other. My home town is far from glamorous. Not much happens here other than when Dirty Dancing was filmed in the upper part of the county. There are also some who believe Abraham Lincoln was born here, but I doubt Rutherford County will ever be named in the history books for his birth place. For the most part, the county nestled in the foothills of western North Carolina is a peaceful place to enjoy a rural life. I moved away for a year during my freshman year of college. Like most teenagers leaving home straight out of high school, I wanted to get away from home. It mattered very little where I was going away to, as long as it was new turf. I ended up five hours from home in the town of Mount Olive. I spent a year at a school smaller than my high school in town with five fast food restaurants, two grocery stores, and no coffee shop. That year I gained an appreciation for a small town, but not the one I uprooted to. This small town will always be home to me. I said goodbye to Mount Olive when the school year ended and returned to Small Town Friendly. Possibly the most discouraging factor in small town life is the lack of jobs… The few jobs that are available are not high paid positions and offer very few benefits. The majority of Rutherford county residents work outside the county. When I came back home from my year away, I decided it was time to get a decent job. I had a friend who had been a long time employee at a steakhouse, and thought he could help me get a job there. I guess I will never know if Ron was just really impressed by me, or if I got the job because I used Tyler as a reference. Either way, I ended up getting the job and I have been employed by the same restaurant for almost 6 years. On average, it takes me 35 minutes to travel to work one way. Customers are always shocked when I tell them this, but there are no decent jobs in my hometown. My coworkers all think they live in a small town, but to me it feels pretty big. Gaffney has an outlet mall, a huge movie theater, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, every fast food restaurant you could imagine (including Chick-Fil-A), and it is adjacent to the interstate. Okay, so maybe it is a small town, just not as small as Forest City. I have spent so much time in Gaffney over the last 6 years that I feel at home in this small town as well. Working in the restaurant, I have waited on teachers, politicians, preachers, nurses, parents, voters, police officers, stay at home moms… all members of a small town community. I have learned which customers are related and which ones have kids at the same schools. I have learned which ones are business owners in the community. I have learned which guests want to chat and which customers who are going to be grumpy regardless. After 6 years, if the guest has dined in the restaurant before the chance of me recognizing them is extremely high. I may not have served everyone in Gaffney, but I have served a lot of people in Gaffney. Customers stick out to me for different reasons but none had ever caught my attention for the reason that you did.
The first time I remember seeing you in the restaurant, you were sitting at a small booth across from the bar. It wasn’t my section but I had to pass where you were sitting on every trip to the kitchen. You never knew who I was, but I never forgot your face after seeing you once. A common disease shared by two strangers. Two beautiful women caught in the grips of an eating disorder. Tormented by never ending thoughts of food, weight, scales, food, calories, diets, exercise, control, food, pants sizes, cellulite, food, vomiting, restricting, and more food. You didn’t notice me because you were concentrating on your potato soup. Every time I saw you eat here, it was always potato soup. I wanted to ask why potato soup was a safe food but I never did. I doubt I would have ever found the courage to ask, but I always wondered. I also wondered if the person sitting across from you realized that you were doing a great job playing with the soup, but actually eating it not so much. Then again maybe you simply didn’t notice me because I am not visibly anorexic. Compared to you, I look like a picture of health. Looking at you was like Real life Thinspo. I had never seen someone look so perfect, so flawless, and so thin. You never came frequently enough for me to consider you a regular customer but each time you did I couldn’t help but stare. I was insanely jealous of you and seeing you made me feel like a failure in my own disorder. Only a severely sick individual would think it possible to fail in a disorder. To fail would ultimately mean winning. If you fail at anything else in life, it means you have lost. If you fail at an Eating Disorder, it means that you have actually won and have resumed a healthy way of life. During this time period failing in my disorder meant weighing more than I thought I should. No matter how often I was purging, or how much I was restricting I saw nothing but failure when I looked in the mirror. I wondered if you were happy with the way you looked. If we were friends I would have told you how perfect you were, but I’m sure your actual friends were scared to death. They didn’t think you were perfect; they thought you were extremely ill.
January 2, 2018, was the last time our paths would cross. You were having lunch with a friend. I realized it was you by the Bowl of Soup. You were wearing an oversized shirt. I was managing the front of the house which gave me the opportunity to keep an eye on you throughout your dining experience. I had to go to your table because you initially tried to pay using 4 bonus cards. In years past that would have been fine, but the company changed the rules this year. You were super sweet and understanding. On this particular day, the restaurant was giving away free appetizers as part of a promotion. In order to get the free app, the customer had to tell the server they wanted it for free. After you left the restaurant, you called back some time later and asked to speak with the manager. When you got home you had noticed that the appetizer was still on the bill. I asked if you wanted to come back that day and get one for free, or if you wanted to come back another day. You said you would come back another day. I took down your name and phone number and told you to ask for me on your next visit. Until this phone call, I had never learned your name. The girl I wanted so desperately to emulate was a nameless character until our last interaction.
January 11, 2018, a familiar face flooded my Facebook newsfeed. News spreads like wildfire in a small town, faster than ever thanks to social media. A week earlier I could barely stop staring with envy as you pretended to eat soup. It never crossed my mind that you could be close to death. I thought you looked absolutely perfect, but you were almost gone. I read every post on your Facebook. It was clear that you were loved, and it was clear that no one understood you. No one said anything mean-spirited. It was obvious you touched a lot of hearts in this town. Many people said they were “in shock” or that they “couldn’t believe it”. Only a couple of people mentioned anything pertaining to food, and it was obvious from their posts that they had very little knowledge about eating disorders. I wanted to know what caused your death so I direct messaged one of my friends who knew you. She said it was a heart attack and that you had been having chronic ulcers. She still didn’t mention anorexia. Not once on your Facebook is it mentioned. I’m sorry you never got your free appetizer. I’m sorry that I was jealous of your sickness instead of befriending you. I’m sorry we live in a society that values appearances way too much. I’m sorry that people are afraid to talk about what really caused your death.
The same day you passed, I applied to an eating disorder treatment center in Greenville. A few hours later the news of your death surfaced. Coincidence… maybe, but it gave me a weird feeling that’s for sure. Everything about treatment terrifies me, but the alternative is much worse. This disease stops at nothing, destroying everything it touches. I refuse to lose anything else in the fight.


F-Word In The Nursing Home

Wednesday night after having Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I rode with my parents to drive my stepmom’s mother back to the nursing home. I had every intention of waiting in the car while they got her settled in for the night. This was the plan I made for myself, but my dad had other plans. My step-grandmother shares a room at this nursing home with one of my dad’s relatives. I believe she is my great aunt but I would not bet money on that. Regardless, the roommate is an elderly lady that I have seen maybe ten times during my life. We all have some of those right? Chances are you have no idea what their name is, and if they know yours they will definitely pronounce it wrong. So, clearly I was thrilled about going to visit this lady, but it is the holiday season and I knew it would make my dad happy. We make small talk with the old lady for a while, but eventually, silence replaced conversation. This is it, ladies and gentlemen, this is the part of the story you have all been waiting for. I have no idea how old this lady actually is, but I know enough to know that her time on earth is numbered. I mean she may have a few more years, but her last chapter is underway. She has had a stroke and a few other health problems which have resulted in her living in the nursing home. I preface with these facts because I think it adds to my wrath about the dialogue that comes next. It had easily been a couple of minutes since anyone had spoken when she looks dead at me and says “How do you stay so tiny?” um…. Well, ten years of Anorexia and Bulimia have really helped. What the hell do you mean how do I stay so tiny? This question takes me completely aback and it takes me a moment to formulate a response. I choose “Well I work a lot. I’m really active”. Without any hesitation, she says “Well, I don’t want you to get fat”. An elderly lady in the nursing home with years of stories and wisdom decided that my body should be the last thing she and I will ever talk about. She could have asked if I have a degree… which I do. She could have asked if I had a successful job… which I have as well. Please know that if I live to be as old as this lady I plan on saying whatever I want too, with the exception of the F-bomb. Obviously, this woman has no idea that I am battling an eating disorder that jeopardizes my health every day. I also understand that times have changed. This woman obviously has not spent time reading about mental health. For all I know she asks everyone that walks in the door that question, but it hit something deep inside of me. What kind of life did this lady have for her to be focused on a 24-year-old’s weight while she lives out her final days? Why is my body the only thing of interest? How long has this been her mentality? My mind is filled with questions that I will never get the answers to. This woman has spent her entire life believing fat is the worst thing a woman could possibly be. When I think about the influence society has had on my negative self-image, I think about women around my age. A twenty-year-old model with a jutting rib cage is no more triggering than an 85-year-old lady telling a young woman that “fat” is bad. Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Women have to learn and believe that they are not just a body and that the body does not define them. When my children and grandchildren come to visit in the nursing home, I want to tell them about all of the wonderful things I accomplished in my life rather than be remembered as an evil old lady who made them feel inadequate.

Country Music Radio: Lead Suspect in The Murder on Music Row.

For years the evidence surrounding this case has been building. Award winning artists, songwriters, musicians, and fans watched a loved one killed right in front of them. For far too long, the murderer has gone untouched. Until the victims demand justice, none will be served. Letting the criminal walk around free of charge makes us just as guilty as him. So much has been taken from us, but new life can be given if enough victims speak up. Since the murder, a horrible plague has filled the airways. The kind of songs Charlie Worsham made a joke of this summer at his fan club party.. “I’m hott, you’re hott, we’re all hott”. Yep… you guessed it. We have officially reached the “Bro Country” portion of this article.
Trucks, pretty women and bud light are all great… well maybe not cheap beer, but the other two are swell. Joe Diffie may have set the bar a little high in the 90’s with “Pickup Man’, but no matter how many times you try to rewrite that song it’s just not going to work. I can’t help but wonder if this music is actually used for romantic occasions. Are there are actually females who climb into a truck on a first date believing that Prince Charming of the evening handpicked a song for them? The lack of diversity on Country Radio is astonishing. It is almost as if the same song is being sung over and over again by a different male artist. What makes the situation immensely worse is that these songs continue to take over the charts. Time and time again, the newest truck song climbs higher than any new and original idea; if the new idea gets airplay at all.
Maddie and Tae spoke out about this issue in “Girl In A Country Song” which surprisingly made it to the top of the charts. I’ll focus on Women and Gender Equality a little later.
If by some chance you haven’t heard this song, you should give it a listen. It calls attention to all the ways that “bro country” songs portray women as objects rather than human beings. I still don’t quite understand how this song made it to number 1 on the same stations that promoted everything this song makes fun of. If the bro country singers ever decide to do a collaboration of hits, they can just name it “Trucks, Girls and Beer”. The genre has so much more to offer! I guess it should be noted that “bro country” isn’t a sexist term. There are great male artists making country music. Chris Stapleton has more sales than anyone in the genre. Eric Church had the number one tour in the nation for 2017. Charlie Worsham is hands down the most underrated male in the genre, and that’s an absolute truth. George Strait and Alan Jackson can’t even get airplay. Two artists that have set the bar with records sold, awards, Country Music Hall of Fame inductions, songs that will stand the test of time, but radio will not play their music. The fact that George Strait has written and recorded a song called “Kicked out of Country” speaks for itself. Alan Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this week and said “I just hope there’s gonna be some young people coming along who really care about it as much as I have and try to keep it alive. It’s gonna be hard today. You won’t hear it on the radio probably anymore but there’s still a lot of people out there young and old who want to hear what I call real country music”. Real country music still has an audience. The only thing that has changed is the way we are forced to listen to it. Country Radio has been a staple in so many lives. The artists that I love and listen to grew up listening to radio. For so many of them it was the link to their careers and songs that made them passionate about music. For anyone who reads this that has yet to discover life outside of Country radio, I urge you to do so. Technology is changing the way that music lovers of all genres access the music they want. Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora are just a few of the many ways that artists can gain exposure without radio. “Bro Country” may very well continue to dominate Country radio, but streaming is taking a major toll on the radio industry. The world will continue to change and evolve but this change should not include the complete transformation of a genre.
“Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?”… A question posed to us in 1985 by the one and only George Jones. Over twenty years later, there’s not an artist on country radio that will ever come close to filling the shoes of Jones, Cash or Haggard. I can only imagine what their opinions would be in regards to the songs played on country radio today.
These men and all of the other country greats were special because they remained true to themselves. They were in it for the love of music, and they are all reflections of that. I can’t say that I know how these men and women would feel about downloads or streaming, but I do know that they would want their legacy to live on. Harlan Howard, a songwriter who is referred to by many as one of the best of all time said “Country Music is three chords and the truth”. I can’t find much of that on country radio today. Sure, there may be some truth in a good time on a Friday night, but what happens when the night ends. Eventually the girl in the cutoff jeans is going to leave, the beer supply is going to run out, and the bonfire will fade to ashes. The truth is in what happens when life isn’t a party. “You say you’re the real deal but you play what nobody feels. You sing about Johnny Cash; the man in black would’ve whipped your ass. I don’t think Waylon done it that way”. These are lyrics from the Eric Church song “Lotta boot left to feel”. Church has been one of the fortunate few to gain commercial success over the last few years while making music that matters. He is consistently referred to as a “rebel” and “outsider. I could ramble on about my love for him, but what’s important is that his music does matter. Somehow among all the bullshit, Mr. Misunderstood is still a success. If I had one positive thing to say about Country radio, it would be that at least they acknowledge Eric Church.
Our second piece of evidence is a little something you may be familiar with known as #tomatogate. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a couple years ago, a radio host referred to the women of country music as the tomatoes of a salad… which you guessed it, leaves the men being the lettuce. At this time women were definitely not being as successful on the charts as men. Although, I know what the douche canoe’s name was, I will not give him credit for his remark, on the off chance that he stumbles across this. When this first happened, people were irate. Female artists such as Martina Mcbride and Sara Evans voiced their opinions on social media. It seemed as if Country Fans were completely supportive and ready to make a difference. Almost two years later things have only grown worse for females in country. Country radio continues to deny females any chance of access to the charts.
I am sure that there are some fans out there who maybe just think that the country industry is lacking female artists… if this is the case… you’re wrong. So many females are having to sit by and watch as artists with less originality and talent gain prestige and fame. Where would we be without Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Linda Rhondstat, Dolly Parton, or Reba? These women are just a handful of females who have paved the way for others to follow in their footsteps. In the 1990’s, the charts were almost 50/50 between men and women. Patty Loveless, The Judds, The Dixie Chicks, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Jo Dee Messina, Martina Mcbride and Shania Twain are just a few of the female artists that dominated the charts during the 90’s. Later on to the scene included Sara Evans and Lee Ann Womack. During this time period, women and men filled country music radio. This is not the case in present times. Even Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood (who have both won female vocalist of the year several times), still struggle to climb the charts with their singles. The format barely incorporates their music, which leaves no room for any other female artist. If the radio was a just place, every country fan would know the music of Sunny Sweeney, Ashley Mcbride,and Aubrie Sellers… just to name a few. Most deserving of them all is six time Grammy nominee, Brandy Clark. Nope, that’s not a typo… six, but if you rely on country radio to hear music then I’m sure you’ve never heard of her. “Mama’s Broken Heart”, “Better Dig Two”, “Follow Your Arrow”…I’m sure I’m ringing bells now. Brandy Clark is the most intuitive human being I have ever encountered. She has the ability to transform a depressing situation into a prolific statement. She can make a man whore get his karma, then give you inspirational quotes to live by. The music of Brandy Clark makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. No matter how many times I see her live, she has the same effect on me. This woman and so many others like her deserve recognition for their talent. If I was depending on Country Radio for my music, I would have never discovered my favorite artist in 24 years of life.
I am uncertain if the country music radio can be salvaged at this point. The artists George Jones sang about in “Who’s gonna fill their shoes” will most likely never have the radio success that George or any other artist from his era had. It seems as though Americana is the best option to continue to give life to country music. You won’t find it on country radio, but artists such as Lee Ann Womack and Brandy Clark have found praise and acceptance in this format. “Kicked out of Country”… for being “too country”. Real Country Music lovers still exist and will continue to demand the music we love. The music is still being made, whether country radio plays it or not. Justice will be served. This is not the end.

Missing You

Missing You.
After all this time. After all the angry words. After I should be more than over it.
Missing You.
From the night it ended. Each day until now. And in this very moment.
Missing You.
Hello led us to I love you. I love you ended in goodbye. Goodbye turned into
Missing You.
Hanging Out. Making Out. Backing Out.
Missing you.
Missing You ❤

Memory Lane
Alcohol reduces travel time on the journey
No compass or map is needed
No sea captain, or gps tracking device.
Memory Lane has no address,
But can often be found at the bottom of a glass or bottle.
I frequent here often,
Like a wave pulled back in with the tide, I am helpless to remain on dry land.


Sometimes I get in the mood to write but struggle to come up with a topic. My search for writing prompts led me to this.

Name something you lost or gave away that can never be replaced.

For over two years I held on to the items I had no use for. Inside a storage container in my living room, the last remaining items I had purchased for my son sat untouched day after day. Brand new clothes, blankets, and tiny Simba slippers had no use without the baby they were purchased for. Useless, but still present; I lacked the ability to part with them. I bought each item in the container in preparation for my son’s arrival. Every time I bought a new outfit for him, I visualized what he would look like when wearing the outfit. I was ready to wrap my baby in a warm new blanket and welcome life into the world. All of the “things” inside that storage bin were more than just “things”, they were the image I envisioned of my baby. I held onto the “things” because I could no longer hold on to Evan. In my mind, discarding his clothes meant getting rid of all I had left of my son. From time to time I would pick up each article of clothing and think back to the joy it brought me the day I purchased it. After I had gone through them all, I would place the lid back on the container and close the lid on Evan’s memory. I made the decision to give all of Evan’s things to one of my coworkers. She was a new mom and I knew she would be appreciative. I had wrestled with the idea of donating the items for a while. I feel selfish in admitting that I could not bring myself to give my memories to a stranger. I held on to them until I found a way to be at peace with giving them away. I messaged her to make sure that she would feel comfortable receiving them. It’s not every day that a bereaved mother offers you her deceased child’s belongings. I know without a doubt that I made the right decision in my choice of who to give Evan’s things to. It was a difficult choice, but it was the right choice. I decided to give her Evan’s things because I knew it was time to let go of them. I can never replace those items any more than I can replace Evan.

Choosing my person over Ana and Mia

Hurt filled eyes sit across from me at a six person booth
I have seen this look before, but never has it made me feel so guilty
In 23 years on this earth, I have been blessed with great friendships, but none that would ever hold a candle to ours.
The Yang to my Grey, The Monica to my Rachel, The Paris to my Nicole, and all of the other best friend duos…
She is truly my other half, my roommate, my coworker, my role model, my hero, my concert sidekick, my partner and crime, and my best friend.
Unfortunately, this means my ugly secret is no longer a secret, at least not to her.
It has been years since anyone has used “eating disorder” as a term in reference to me.
The dreadful disease that has haunted me for almost a decade has been my own cross to bear for some time now.
The past few years, I have convinced myself time and time again that I no longer have a problem.
The individuals who tried and failed to help me during adolescence, have long since drifted into the past.
In order to maintain relationships with Ana and Mia, I have sacrificed numerous relationships with loved ones.
No one tells you that even as a teenager, people will eventually get tired of your bullshit and move on.
When your thoughts are preoccupied due to a life threatening mental illness, it is easy to lose sight of everything else.
I may never be able to make up for the pain I have inflicted upon others due to my eating disorder, but I refuse to let it destroy another imperative relationship.
The euphoria experienced from dropping a few pounds or hearing someone say” Oh you’ve really lost weight” will never compensate for the tears in the eyes of the person you love most.
Eating disorders may cause individuals to become self-absorbed, but the love we have for others is still 100% sincere… or at least it is in my case.
The most important advice I could offer to anyone on the outside looking in, is to never forget that eating disorders are mental health illnesses. Every eating disorder is a DISEASE. There is not one individual in the grips of an eating disorder that woke up one day and decided they wanted to become sick.
For almost 10 years I have battled the disorder that is trying to kill me. For too long I was in complete denial. I believed that adults were making a big deal out of nothing because I didn’t eat lunch in high school. Overnight trips were always a complete disaster that usually resulted in screaming matches between myself and my favorite teacher. My role model throughout my high school years was a teacher who I thought the world of. She helped me through countless situations, and for years tried to get me to seek help for a problem I didn’t think I had. If I would have taken her seriously, perhaps I wouldn’t feel as though all my hours in the guidance office were a complete waste of time.
My high school years are without a doubt where my eating disorder developed, but it only got worse from there.
College presented me with a brand new world of independence and freedom. With all of the scrutiny of my high school teacher and guidance counselor removed, I was completely free to do as I pleased.
Five hours away from home, in a college town with no familiar faces. Ah… except for two. Ana and Mia came right along with me on my journey into freshman year. My roommate usually invited me to join her for lunch every day. We never became close friends, but we didn’t have problems either. I think we mostly ate together because she did not want to dine alone, and felt that inviting me was the polite thing to do. So usually once a day, I picked at a plate of food until she was ready to go back to our dorm room.
These were the good days. The bad days were when our schedules would not line up. Frequently she would be out of town for basketball games, or go home to see family and friends. As soon as I knew I was alone I would begin to binge. I would eat everything I could get my hands on. I never kept food in our dorm, but she did. Sometimes I would have to replace food from her stash because Mia demanded I eat it. It was a very small town, but there were several fast food options. I would go from The KFC/ Taco Bell to Wendy’s to McDonalds all in one trip. Afterwards I would either purge in the shower with the water running to muffle the sound, or in the dorm with the music blaring. Luckily, I never forgot to take the trash out before my roommate’s return. It was during this year that I first realized I may have a problem. I was sitting in line at the KFC/ Taco Bell waiting on my second dinner when I realized that this wasn’t normal behavior.
I didn’t purge that night, and came back home after my first year was completed to “get better”. This is what I told myself was going to happen, unfortunately I didn’t keep my promise to myself.
After coming home, I earned my associates degree from a community college while deciding what degree I wanted to pursue for my bachelors. I have never admitted this, but I decided to get my Bachelor’s in Human Services because I thought I could learn how to cure myself. I thought that if became a psychology/ eating disorder expert, all of my problems would fade away.
Needless to say my plan did not work. I now have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services. I spent the last 4 years of my life learning about mental health and how to help people with mental health issues. Unfortunately, I have yet to help myself.
It is much easier to hide an eating disorder when you live alone. When I returned home from freshman year up until two years ago, I was able to starve/ eat/ binge/ purge whenever I wanted.
Roughly 2 years ago my best friend became my roommate. She has lived with me for the majority of this time period, with a small break in between. I absolutely love having her here. 98% of the time, our relationship is everything I could ever want it to be. The other 2 % is when Ana and Mia push her to her limit. The first summer she was here, she was convinced I was pregnant because of my purging. I have tried to lay low; Ana and Mia do not like being exposed. Apparently, I failed miserably in my attempt. Being confronted was never my intention. I never want to see the look of hurt and disgust in her eyes again.
If it were up to me, it would be that simple. I would never cause pain to my loved ones again. My best friend would never have to question the last meal I had. She wouldn’t get nervous every time I went into the bathroom. She would never experience the heartbreak I have unintentionally bestowed upon her.
I am beginning a new chapter in the book of my eating disorder. Even though I am sicker than I have ever been, for the first time I realize that I have a problem. This is a confession I would have never made even 3 months ago.
I have no idea what the recovery process will look like for me, or even if I will be successful in my attempt at recovery. This may be the hardest task I have ever tried to complete. No one deserves to watch someone they love be destroyed by an eating disorder. I wish everyone who suffered with an eating disorder was as fortunate to have a best friend like mine. For years I have let Ana and Mia convince me that I wasn’t worth recovery, but they could never hold a candle to the voice of my person. For now that is more than sufficient. I am just one voice, and my story is far from finished. I can only hope that someone will read this and know that they are not alone. As much as I love Ana and Mia, the relationship we have is detrimental to my health. When viewing it this way the choice is simple. The toxic relationship I have with them has to be sacrificed in order to preserve the relationship that only brings me joy and goodness.
I should note that I have never been what is considered an unhealthy BMI for my height. Most would consider me thin, but I have never met the criteria for anorexia.
This is not to say that I have not restricted and gone to extreme measures to prevent myself from the act of consumption. According to most materials I have read, I do not typically meet the diagnosis for bulimia either. Someone who is not well versed in eating disorder terminology may interpret this to mean that I am simply a girl rambling on who does not actually have a problem.
The reality is that the majority of sufferers find themselves in the same predicament that I am in. Don’t quite make the cut for one of the two big ones, so it can’t be that bad right? This is probably why it took me so long to realize that I actually had a problem. The criteria for anorexia and bulimia is so specific that more than half of people struggling with eating disorders are what is known as EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).
Instead of picking one way to cause extreme harm to our bodies, the majority of ED’s victims enjoy using multiple. This does not mean that these individuals are at a lower risk for health complications, or that they should not seek treatment.

The Roller Coaster of Mental Illness

Loving someone with a mental illness is like riding a broken roller coaster. The beginning is wonderful. There are no signs of the catastrophe that is looming in the distance. Like the coaster, the sufferer is often the most alluring, fascinating attraction in sight. At a distance no one would ever guess that such a glamorous structure could in fact leave them holding on the edge of their seats and fearing for their lives. The ride begins and you experience a euphoria that is unlike anything you’ve ever known. Here in this moment, the world is just as it should be. Though it is a brief moment, it will feel as though it will last forever. You reach the first loop and this is where signs of trouble begin. Something is out of place and the ride begins to shake. The ride then speeds up, on to the next straight away, and the sense of normalcy arrives again. The fear dissipates and you are able to assure yourself that the previous feeling was just a fluke. After all, how could something so well constructed have a flaw? You adjust yourself in your seat to ensure that the safety straps are secured, but feel safe in your decision to continue down the track. From out of nowhere a curve emerges that you never saw coming. The shaking intensifies and out of the corner of your eye you notice that a bolt has fallen to the ground below. It is at this moment that you begin to wonder if this ride was what you signed up for. Something is definitely off, and you question if you will be able to get off without being severely hurt or damaged. Up the last hill and into the last loop of the ride, a pit arises in your stomach. There is a continuous rattling and parts are flying everywhere to the ground. You could have never known that this alluring ride would turn into your worst nightmare. There were no warning signs encouraging you to run the other way. If you would have known of what was just ahead, you would have picked a different ride. Mental illness does not have to look like a screaming man in a strait jacket. It does not play fair and it can often be found within those we love. When we choose to ride the roller coaster, it is impossible to jump out during the middle of the ride. Those struggling with mental illness do not get a choice either. When loving someone with a mental illness it is imperative to remember that they did not choose to live this way. Ultimately if you find yourself loving a “broken roller coaster”, you do have the option to get off at any point. It is an option that many loved ones will choose. There will never be a smooth ride on a broken roller coaster and for some it will be too much. This is not to say there will not be happy moments on the broken coaster. Mental illness often has the ability to go unnoticed for long periods of time. Regardless of how ominous the ride may get, at one point in time, the rider was attracted to the roller coaster. The ride will contain highs that will be wonderful, but it will also contain lows, and dips. These are the times when it is essential to protect the needs of the rider at all cost. The rider will most likely want to repair the damaged coaster in any way possible. The rider will believe that they have all of the tools necessary to get the coaster back to normal with a few quick adjustments. In some cases this may be possible, but for most coasters the repair will be lengthy and complex. Somedays the rider may not be able to risk the repercussions associated with riding the roller coaster. There may be times when the coaster seems as though it is all put back together again, and there may be times when it seems as though no hope remains for the coaster. Anyone who chooses to be a rider of broken coasters is a brave and heroic spirit. Not everyone can be a rider, and even those who attempt will often fail. Despite the rider’s best efforts, not all broken roller coasters can be fixed. Roller Coaster parts are extremely complex and take excessive amounts of study to be understood. In order to be repaired and fully functioning, there must be an intense connection between the coaster and it’s riders…. Oh yeah… guess I skipped something… A broken roller coaster needs more than one rider to get it up and running again. There is a correlation between the number of riders and the number of reformed roller coasters. I just made that up, but all jokes aside the more people a person has in their support system, the more likely they are to heal. Everyone has ridden on a broken roller coaster at some point during their lives whether they have realized it or not. Most everyone will deal with mental health issues at some point in their lifetime. It may not be a full blown mental illness, but it will be significant enough to impact your life. Realizing you are a rider, or the broken roller coaster itself can be extremely frightening. Coasters are afraid to seek help with repair, and riders believe they can handle the coaster themselves. There will never be a broken roller coaster that doesn’t deserve a chance at a normal ride. The repair will not be easy, but it will most definitely be worth it if we manage to get back on track. As for the rider, somehow fate determined that you would get to ride this coaster. Where you go from here is up to you. No one will force you to keep riding the coaster. It is completely up to you to decide how much the coaster means to you. The easy route is always open, and at times will be so much more alluring. Trying to repair a broken roller coaster is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks a human being could choose. No one wants to find out that someone they love is suffering from an illness. Trying to repair a broken roller coaster requires a special kind of love and devotion that is found in the hearts of special individuals. It will never be an easy ride on a broken roller coaster, but without the rider, the coaster would have no chance at survival. Here’s to the brave ones that continue to ride and continue to believe in the revival of the broken roller coasters. Without you, there would be no getting back on track… And here’s to the broken roller coasters who despite their highs and lows refuse to shut down. May you all be able to rebuild from the wreckage and return stronger and better than ever.

Not That Sick

Not That Sick
This is the rebuttal you will offer to anyone who claims you have a problem. After all there are others who are much worse. Those emaciated skeletons who are visibly ill. At a glance no one can tell there is anything wrong with you. How could someone who looks so healthy be struggling with a life threatening mental illness? Years and years of suffering with an eating disorder and yet I still manage to convince myself that I do not belong in treatment because my disorder is not really “that bad”. Despite the fact that loved ones have repeatedly voiced concern, I sometimes feel like a failure on the eating disorder spectrum. Even when it comes to mental illness I cannot manage to make a commitment. For the past nine years I have boomeranged between starving, binging and purging. Instead of fitting into a nice diagnosis of Anorexia or Bulimia, I get to be the indecisive one. When someone doesn’t fit into the cozy criteria of these disorders, professionals refer to it as an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). Never have I been the skeletal goddess with a thigh gap, jutting ribcage and 00 jeans. After nine years of abusing my body I have yet to reach this desired level of “sickness”. I know this probably does not make much sense to anyone who has never had an eating disorder. If you have never had an eating disorder you are probably asking yourself “why on earth would anyone want to be consumed by a disease”. There are parts of my story that I am able to articulate very clearly, but this is not one of them. Recovery is for those much sicker than me. If I needed help then I would look much worse. The scale would be a reflection of my disease. The ones who say otherwise are clearly misguided. These are all excuses I tell myself, because the alternative is much worse. If I am sick enough to get help then I have been lying to myself all along. What do you believe when you cannot even trust yourself?

Oh, but the fire went wild

It was as if I had found something I had been searching for my whole life, yet never knew I was missing. For twenty years I had looked but until this moment I never knew what it meant to be in love. In your arms, I experienced a euphoria that was completely foreign to me. In this moment, everything was exactly as it should be. Together in a safe haven without judgment and interference, my heart felt at home.This is the most intimate night I have shared with another person to this day. I wanted to stay right there beside you forever but even then I knew I couldn’t. From the very beginning I knew there were a million reasons we would never work out but unfortunately love is not a choice. When friendships become more than just friends it is impossible to go back to where you were before. I will forever think that what I felt for you was unrequited love but that does not make it any less real. I have no regrets when it comes to falling in love with you, nor do I have any bitterness towards you for breaking my heart. When you came into my life I was a lonely, bitter and empty person. You completely changed my life and allowed me to feel again. Even though I knew it was coming, the night you told me that we would never be more than friends my heart broke into a million pieces. Nothing was ever the same between us. As much as I wanted to salvage the relationship I acted crazy and pushed you until you eventually hated me. I loved you so much that could never be satisfied with living in the friend zone. My only regret between us is that I acted so insane. You made your decision and that was that. I may never know love this strong again and I am fortunate that even though it destroyed me, I had a chance to experience it. It took me far too long to learn that “happy ending” can have more than one meaning… God I hope you’re happy. I don’t think that we ever get over losing the one’s we love but we do let go of the bitterness. People still ask me about you and I just have to tell them the truth: “I don’t know what she’s doing now. We don’t talk”. You still come to me in my dreams sometimes and I wake up to find you’re still gone. I can’t listen to Johnny Cash, Ed Sheeran or Eric Church without your memory creeping in. I hope you never live a day without hearing “I love you”. I hope that he never lets you down. I hope the way you feel about him only grows stronger over the years. I hope he reminds you how beautiful you are. I hope he never forgets how lucky he is to be married to the most beautiful girl on the planet. I hope he treats you like a queen. I hope that in 50 years you guys are still together and madly in love. I have never met someone so deserving of love. My feelings for you have not changed, but I know that I am moving on because I want you to be happy even though it is with someone other than me. It has taken me a long time to get to this point but I have finally realized that I love you enough to let you go.