What’s it like to recover? Beautiful, heartbreaking, soul destroying. It can be a mixture if everything all rolled up together, spinning so fast you can’t distinguish good days. It is yelling at your reflection because you’re bloated, breaking locks to find soap, searching your entire house for scales, crying at your dinner, using bleach as an antibacterial because all your hand soap was taken away. It is sitting in therapy and trying to understand why you should ever eat again, it is having blood taken from every vein, seeing your heart rate on an ECG, having to step onto scales backwards. It is hiding food in drawers, throwing away countless dinners, avoiding seeing friends because you’ve gained weight, having a panic attack because you’re told you’re finishing your lunch or never leaving the table, fasting, binging, shoving your first to the back of your throats and gagging at the sight of your own sick. It is the constant voice shouting in your head while dieticians force your weight up. It is clinging onto your illnesses with white clenched fists, petrified of what life without them would be like. It is shutting out the world so you can hear the lethal voices a little clearer, pretending to have eaten a big lunch. It is the constant disgust when you see the number climbing upwards, your rib cage ever so slowly fading, the collarbones you didn’t eat for five weeks to gain, slowly retreating into a less prominent feature.
But with the fading of your skeletal bones, it is the fading of the hanging skin beneath your eyes. It is the way your laugh slowly starts to reclaim the empy air that echoed through your veins for so long, the forgotten distainful taste of 8 hour old chewing gum. It is not using soap when it is in clear and unguarded, using the same glass twice. It is talking about school in a quiet voice that brushes past the gates of captivity with an unquestionable ‘no’. You catch it in glimpses, like the sun behind a grey cloud on a cold April day, the look on your Dads face when you ask for a second helping of potatoes, the way your siblings talk about their school day freely without having to ask you before. You see it in an empty plate, a half finished bowl, a fork. In the way a bottle of soaps lifespan begins to extend further than a day. It is in your eyes, where life replaces the emptiness of your pupils. It is in the day, lived freely, no longer weighed down by a huge coat or the constant struggle of keeping your arms hidden. You see it in a laugh, the delayed anxiety, the way you look in a mirror to check your hair, not your bones. You catch the fleeting seconds where you win, that you gradually see as days of success before you stop really noticing at all, until somebody points out the way you can share a shopping trolley with somebody or how healthy you look.
‘What’s it like to recover?’. It’s like walking on fire, feet burnt to ashes, but there is something that keeps you going when everything in you wants to tear away from the pain, and it is that ‘something’ that eventually saves your life.