I often think about one of my high school cross country teammates who may have dealt with an eating disorder. I couldn’t understand it at all back then and tried to encourage her to eat foods like cheese (“It has calcium for strong bones!”) but our discussions never went much beyond that. I didn’t know how to help her, and she never fully confessed to me about her possible eating disorder. I only know from mutterings here and there that she had some nutritional issues and couldn’t race a few times because of it. I can only guess that if we had talked about it more, I would still have been at a loss as to what to do for her. Thus I believe it takes a very special person to have sympathy and patience for someone with an eating disorder. This post hopefully not only gives insight into what it takes to be a supportive friend, but it is also a thank-you to the amazing people in my life who have been there for me with my own experiences with the eating disorder.
The Blunt Supporter
Rachel (“Elizabeth, in the book) was with me from the very beginning. She not only watched as I ate plates high with vegetables, but she defended me in my mono-meal-banana eating frenzies and lived with me over the summer of 2011 as I struggled to stay raw. It was difficult for me to tell her about what was really going on with my obsession because I was worried about what she would think about me, but once we did talk more she certainly tried to be there for me. The two of us got in some arguments over where I was coming from and why, and it wasn’t until months after our disagreements and frustrations that I had begun to see what she was talking about and that she addressed these issues because she cared. Even now when she says how proud she is of me and continually supports this blog, I can’t express how much that means to me because I value her thoughts and support.
The Silent Supporters
Sometimes the smallest of friends come with the biggest of hearts. It wasn’t until further along in my ED recovery that two younger teammates (each probably a foot shorter than me, haha) came along and gave me a sense of belonging, peace, and confidence. I think we actually thrive a lot off of each other (sometimes I feel like a motherly figure for them, and they are constantly supporting and encouraging me). We haven’t talk much about my eating disorder but it is their actions that speak louder than words. They came to my reading about my eating disorder at school, they often invite me to the cafeteria when it still feels embarrassing for me to express that I am hungry, and they even congratulated me on eating pasta for the first time in years and understood WHAT A BIG DEAL that was for me.
Ashlee and Kathy—thank you.
The Soul Supporter
And then there’s Alina—the one who was always there to listen, always there to talk when I needed it. She has gone above and beyond what anyone would ask from a friend, and she was there to bring everything out of me. Alina probably understands me more than anyone because we are alike in our perfectionist tendencies. I think we have learned a lot from each other just by talking, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for being there for me no matter what. She told me the other day that some younger kids accidentally called her “Angelina.” I think that “Angel” part fits perfectly. ;)
Of course there are many more people in my life who have supported from afar, and I thank those of you for that. Every little bit of encouragement, understanding, and support helps, and I thank you for the comments, messages, etc that I have received over the past few years.