A dangerous normal

The thing about having friends who all also suffer from eating disorders is that it becomes somewhat “normal.”

You forget that not everyone sits around planning where they will go for lunch and if they are all comfortable eating there. You forget that people just stop where it’s convenient and eat what appeals to them based on the choices available to them at that time. You forget that when people get together for a chunk of time, they don’t need to pre-plan who will do what for lunch and how the activity fits in around meal plans. You forget that normal people don’t sit around with friends at lunch, wondering if everyone is judging how much they are eating compared to everyone else, worrying if their lunch is making someone feel self-conscious because it’s less or more than someone else has. You lose any sense of what a healthy weight is when all your friends are dangerously underweight.

I’m learning too that everyone has bad days. Everyone has situations that make them feel anxious or scared. Everyone has people in their lives they have a hard time dealing with. Everyone has family that are far from perfect, relationships that have left them in pieces, days where they wonder if the sun will ever rise again.

With life, comes pain. There’s no way to escape from it, to numb it, to be protected from it.

Sometimes I wonder if I feel it more acutely. Or if I am flawed in some way that I just can’t handle it. Or if there’s something inherently wrong with me that makes me sensitive to things that wouldn’t have the same effect on another person.

Then I wonder too if we all have our own battles we fight and there are things that aren’t a big deal to me but might be intensely painful for somebody else.

I wonder if “normal” even exists.

What separates an eating disorder from any other emotional disorder (anxiety, depression, addiction)? The symptoms; food, weight, exercise, vomiting. They are just symptoms of pain and suffering.

Underneath: human nature.

Mainly, I think that I think too much.

The other thing about having so many friends with eating disorders is that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

20% of sufferers die.

I first got ill when I was 12. I lost my best friend — a friend I had known since I was 2 — when I was 14.

As the years have gone by, I’ve watched more and more friends lose their lives to this illness.

I’m now 33. 21 years since I was first diagnosed, and watching my friends die has started to feel almost “normal” now too.

I hate this f*cking disease.

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