By Kat Brydson//
TW: EATING DISORDERS
I wish I could give my 11-year-old self a hug. I wish I could tell her that she is enough, that she doesn’t need to change for anyone, including herself. I wish I could tell her that she’s not alone, that she should tell her mom what she’s feeling, that she should throw her mirror away and just rejoice in what it means to be a kid.
Anorexia cut my childhood short. It creeped in silently, in broad daylight, and slowly stripped away every joy that made me the chatty little diva my mom called Kiki B. Somewhere inside my body I’m sure Kiki B was screaming, “Let me out! I want to just be a kid again!” But it was too late, Anorexia already made a home in my 11-year-old mind.
I would be lying if I said I remembered the time between my 12th and 13th birthdays. My therapist once told me once that we cloak memories of trauma as a form of self-preservation.
I’m grateful in a way. Grateful that the hospital visits and doctor’s offices remain a blur in the landscape of my mind, but apparently I did star in a stunning rendition of Charlie Brown for my 6th grade musical, and I still watch the recording at least twice a year. This second-hand memory is the only proof I have that I actually existed during that year.
I recovered. Physically, at least. That shadow of anorexia still followed my every footstep from ages 12 to18. Anorexia was there at my middle school graduation, when I started my freshman year of high school, when I made varsity basketball. It was even there when I had my first kiss. It followed me because it took control of my entire life before I even wore my first bra, and at that age, there is no roadmap for mental recovery.
On February 5th 2021, I had a panic attack in front of my best friend. I can’t exactly remember what spurred it, but I distinctly remember sitting on my basement floor and just being so fucking angry. Angry at a disorder that entered my life when I was a little kid and still controlled it. Angry that I was taught that gaining weight meant recovery. Angry that I couldn’t be there for my best friend, because I didn’t know how to be there for myself.
So it began, 7 years after Anorexia stepped foot in my life, I was finally ready to free myself from its shadow. I’m privileged enough to have always had access to what I needed to recover: food, a therapist, a nutritionist. But there was always one thing missing: wanting. At 18 I finally wanted to reclaim my own life, I wanted to recover, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could.
When most people think of the spring of their senior year, they think of prom, senior skip days, and getting into college. When I think of the spring of senior year, I think of granola bars, my nutritionist (shoutout Carrie), and many many pages of scribbles in my journal. I’m not reducing my recovery to a journal, some cliff bars, and my girl Carrie, but I’m trying to say that recovery was my top, and only, priority.
There’s a big debate between those who have suffered from eating disorders, as to whether recovery is truly possible. In all honesty, I’m not sure what side of that debate I stand on, but I am sure of what recovery means to me:
Recovery is ending an extremely toxic relationship realizing who my true friends are, and only giving to people who give to me creativity curiosity realizing… hmm.. Maybe I’m not straight becoming my own best friend ambition letting go of blame mending my relationship with my parents finding my own style looking in the mirror and thinking, “Damn I’m hot.” finally learning to listen to my body moving across the country walking into a random room 4 floors below me, and meeting 2 of my best friends my first kiss with a girl cutting all my hair off daily plunges in the pacific ocean that 7/11 slushie at 1 am that hits… oh so hard writing this article not linear continuous the best choice I ever made.