Worth Living Ambassador Julie Arab
My name is Julie, and I am from The small city we like to call Halifax, located in Nova Scotia. I am a property manager by day, foodie by night, obsessed with finding the best bite in Halifax so I can imitate it and enjoy my version of it at home.
Mental Illness. I have always hated those words. I hate the stigma, the myths, all the behaviours associated with it. I hated the fact that I had a mental illness, that I still have one. I think what I hated most was sitting in the hospital listening to the doctor tell me that they were placing me in the mental health wing because there wasn’t currently an eating disorder’s wing.
I knew that my eating disorder was a mental illness, but what I didn’t know was that it was going to drive me mentally insane.
My name is Julie, but when I look in the mirror, all I see is eating disorder.
From the moment I wake up, my eating disorder wakes up with me. It’s the same routine every morning.
Open my eyes, feel my stomach, hate myself. At this point a hundred thoughts race through my head.
“Did I gain weight? are your hands swollen? Should I step on the scale or is it just going to ruin my day? No! I have to step on the scale, I need to know what that number is. What did I eat yesterday? I’m so hungry, when am I going to eat today?”
These thoughts rarely ever go away, at least not without a sufficient distraction.
From the moment I wake up to the moment I lay my head back on my pillow to fall back asleep, I am thinking about food.
It feels like I’ve been this way for my entire life, but it’s actually been 12 years.
Sometimes I can’t believe that number to be true, but I know it’s a reality.
An eating disorder is not glamorous. It does not give you control and it does not fix all your problems. An eating disorder only takes until there’s nothing left of you.
The first thing my eating disorder took from me was my friends. Nobody wants to deal with a friend that always bails on plans and only talks about food. It gets to a point where you don’t even have a social life anymore, unless you count answering the door for the pizza guy.
The second thing my eating disorder took from me was my boyfriends. They never stay. My relationships have always suffered because of my illness and always end in a painful break up. Nobody wants to have to deal with a sick girl.
The third thing my eating disorder took from me was my family. They start off by being worried, but then that worry turns to anger and resentment. Lecture after lecture, fight after fight, all you can think about is how much you have disappointed your family. And yet you still choose your eating disorder every time.
The fourth thing, and perhaps the biggest loss of them all, is when my eating disorder took my hope. This loss is not something you can see, only something you can feel. You start to feel empty, as if there is no hope left for a happy ending. At this point you believe that the illness is going to take your life, and all you can hope for is to wake up another day.
It’s hard to get out of that dump, where you feel as though you have hit rock bottom and nothing will ever fix it. Most days I didn’t want to get out of bed but I always did. How else would I get to the scale in the bathroom to check my weight?
Eventually I saw some light. I realized that there was more to life than a piece of plastic that told me how many pounds I was. But the demons still linger.
I’m not sure what it takes to fully recover, or if I ever will, but I know that my fight is not over.
I have reconnected with friends and force myself to be more social. I refuse to let the eating disorder win. I refuse to be consumed by darkness. Fall down seven times, stand up eight.