What does it feel like to be 84 pounds?
Well, you know when you burn the roof of your mouth and a little bit of dead skin rubs right off?
Imagine when you wake up in the morning, and you feel loose skin folds from the roof of your mouth on your tongue. You reach a finger in to pull the skin off, and the entire roof of your mouth peels off slowly like a sheet. When you pull it out of your mouth, the sheet of dead skin isn’t pink or white—it’s dark grey.
This would happen every morning.
You know when your skin gets a little irritated in the winter from dryness or sensitivity? Maybe you get some bumps.
Imagine taking off your clothes to get waxed and the aesthetician has a horrified look on her face because your entire body is covered in large, raw red spots, and she doesn’t know what to say. Your body is rejecting everything it comes into contact with.
More On Your Body:
When your body goes into survival mode, your reproductive system is the first thing to shut down. Your body cannot expel energy on systems that are not required for you to live. You don’t have periods, or hormonal processes at all.
Your shower drains are clogged with all of your hair that keeps falling out in handfuls.
The double XXS American Apparel jeans are baggy on you.
It hurts to sit down on anything—even soft surfaces—because your tailbone is protruding so far out.
You sleep 20/24 hours of the day. You’re living behind your eyelids, and you wonder when the long sleep will turn into permanent death.
Your speech is slow and slurred, because your thoughts can only formulate so quickly.
More On Your Mind:
Everything seems blurry all the time. Like you’re living in vertigo. A bad dream. It doesn’t feel like life anymore. You feel like you’re already dead—and you’re lucid dreaming, watching you kill yourself.
You’re in competition with yourself. Even at 84 pounds, I remember challenging myself to go further. I could hit 79 pounds. My thoughts were more than suicidal. I remember not caring anymore at all. I knew my body was already shutting down, and that my brain and heart were getting slower. I felt like I had already accomplished my death, and I was just waiting for it to come.
It’s actually hard for me to remember much of the time I spent so underweight, because my memories and mind were not functioning properly.
How to Help Someone You Love with a Deadly Eating Disorder:
Do NOT accuse them of having an eating disorder. Do NOT draw more attention to the obvious illness and do NOT draw more attention to food.
DO offer to cook and share meals with them, so they don’t have to eat alone. Be mindful of their “safe” foods, and cook or eat in a way that is comfortable for them. If they do not want to eat with you, don’t force it.
If they start obsessing about food when they are around you, try your best to “ignore” the food obsession and redirect the conversation, focusing on another topic.
DO offer your time, love and friendship as much as possible. Make sure they know they have you in their life unconditionally, and that you are always there to call, talk to, spend time with, etc.
Have deeper conversations with them on life, understanding, people, purpose and positivity. Typically, the affected person is distraught, seeking guidance and optimism. Do your part to be as understanding of the deeper meaning to their illness as possible.
Suggest they go to a therapist—talking to someone is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
Be mindful of just how sick they are. If they are so underweight that they’re near death, they need to go to the emergency room immediately.
If You are Struggling with an Eating Disorder:
Realize that all of the focus and obsessive energy you are putting into your food and body can be redirected into anything else. The hardest part is figuring out where to put this focus and energy. My biggest problem was loss of self. But know that you hold all of this power, and right now, you are putting that power into food and your body. Now, imagine if you put that much focus and energy into something else—money, traveling, creating something, helping others, anything!
Reach out for help. Everyone around you loves you, and if you tell anyone you are in need of attention, help, a friend, love, anything—tell someone! People won’t know you need help until you tell them, and nine times out of ten, they will reciprocate whatever kind of help you need.
Contact me! I’m here, boo. I know exactly how you feel right now. And I promise, you see grey right now, but there is sunshine and rainbows just a different mindset away.
To Anyone Who Doesn’t Know What Lethal Anorexia Feels Like:
It hurts when you glamorize anorexia. Women use the word “anorexic” as an adjective, as a joke. This makes me want to cry. You have no idea how sick anorexics are, this is nowhere NEAR the same thing as someone just being skinny or thin. I’ve literally heard women wish out loud that they were anorexic. Do you actually know what you’re saying? I think to myself. Anorexia is a mental illness.
Also, please stop confusing anorexia with “body issues” or “body positivity” issues. Anorexia and other eating disorders actually have nothing to do with body image, or wanting to be thin. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, not diets, not fitness or body issues. Having negative body image, not being able to lose or gain weight, not being in the shape you want to be in—these are NOT the same thing as severe and deadly eating disorders.
A huge thank you to Alexia for sharing her words with our community.
Have some thoughts you’d like to share with Alexia? Advice for our readers? Leave a comment below!