I Wasn’t Sick Enough

That’s a sick thing to say, but I’m a sick person.

I’ll see posts online about people either in recovery right now (by choice or not) or out of recovery and are putting up their story for inspiration, and they’ll talk about their time spent in the hospital with feeding tubes and Ensure and all that, and I’ll think, “I did all of my recovery in my home. In my bedroom on my computer doing hours of research. With my then boyfriend. With my mom and little brother. I never once spent time in the hospital.”

I’m still fuzzy on the specifics of my diagnosis. I went in for a routine check-up, even though we don’t actually do those yearly things, but I had agreed with my mom that I probably needed help. The thought of “eating disorder” had crossed both our minds but there was no way we believed it was real yet. I remember I was wearing this pink dress and a pink bow in my hair. I was planning on spending the rest of the day with my then boyfriend, the Actor, since we had a day off of school and my appointment was stupidly early in the morning. I remember thinking, “are you serious? Are you looking at me?” when the doctor asked me if I did any drugs. “I’m wearing a pink dress and a bow. What do you think?” Then they ordered an EKG and handed us the chart, which we thought looked fine. I mean, it looked like my heart was beating in normal intervals, which it was, 39 times a minute. 42bpm was my average. They said we should take my heart rate while I was sleeping and they’d call back in the morning. You’ve heard this story. I am a light sleeper so it wasn’t taken in my sleep and they never called back anyway. I avoided the hospital through lies and the doctor’s carelessness. Or maybe I just wasn’t sick enough.

I didn’t go to inpatient care. I never was force fed through a tube (other than when I was a 3 lb newborn in the NICU) or watched while I finished a ridiculously full tray of food. I was never forced to drink an Ensure when my weight didn’t go up as fast as they wanted it to. My mom made dinner like she always did. She made my lunch for a few days until I told her it pissed me off. Just because I had an ED didn’t mean I was a little kid. I don’t have some huge recovery story. I weight 94 pounds. Today I weigh 110-115. I don’t fit the old size 1 jeans I used to wear as a product of muscle gain. Everything else I still fit. I mainly have all the clothes from back then and not much anything new. I never took pictures of my body when I was 94 lbs because I thought I was disgustingly fat, but I know that I barely look different. My mom claims I look skinner now than when I was 94lbs but I think that’s because she constantly thinks that I’m relapsing.

A part of me wishes that I had gotten sick enough. Of course I know that that never existed. I would never be “sick enough” to satisfy my standards. Still, that part of me wishes I’d gotten to go as far as I’d wanted. I know I should be thankful that I was caught when I was, and I am, but that doesn’t stop my disorder from wanting what it wants.


8 thoughts on “I Wasn’t Sick Enough

  1. forevergoingforward says:

    Everyone has a story and you shouldn’t degrade your own by comparing yourself to others. My story isn’t what many would consider “sick enough” either, but I am recovering from an eating disorder none the less. An eating disorder is an eating disorder and no matter how severe yours is, it is still a condition that can and will kill you if you don’t get help.

  2. emilyrecovering says:

    I have a friend who did not go inpatient either and has said she feels the same. But in reality you both are stronger than any of us. You did what we couldn’t! Seriously, I might not be here right now if I had not gone inpatient. And the fact that you might not have been like 50 pounds does not mean you are weak it mean the opposite. You were able to recover sooner than others. Everyone is different we should be able to own it with pride!

    • I know I should be able to own it and be proud of it, and I am thankful for my situation, but there’s just that little part of my ED that feels this way.

  3. Aja,
    It sounds as if our stories kind of are similar in that we were never in hospitals, force fed or anything else. I was never “sick enough” either; in fact, throughout the course of my eating disorder (15 years) I have remained overweight. The important part of recovery is remembering that while you may not be as sick as others, you still deserve every ounce of love, compassion and recovery. Ed is the one who tells us we are not sick enough–not doctors, therapists, friends or ourselves…its Ed; and it is a ploy to get us to keep Ed around. You are just as deserving of recovery as everyone else. Keep fighting the good fight.
    Take care,

  4. I feel the same way about my own story. I never was hospitalized, I never went inpatient, I was pretty underweight but I started out underweight anyway and lost less than 10 lbs so it wasn’t a huge difference. I just think the whole comparison thing is a waste of time, because everyone has a different life experience, but it’s hard not to do it when it seems like everyone else has some dramatic story to tell.

  5. It really is difficult not to compare — you’re definitely right about that. Even people I know who did IP or residential or whatnot feel like they weren’t “sick enough.” I forget who said it (perhaps my first dietitian?): There is always going to be someone thinner, someone sicker. You’re never “sick enough” for your ED until you’re dead.

    I love love LOVE Emily’s perspective — that you are so much stronger than those who have gone into treatment in an IP or residential capacity. You wanted recovery SO BADLY that you were able to kick your eating disorder’s ass without anyone forcing you to do so. That, my friend, is strength.

    You are a warrior. Own it.

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