Editor’s Note: This story has content that may be triggering for some readers.
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and entered into recovery on Dec. 19, 2019 . From that day forward, I endured one of the hardest times of my life.
I fought for my life while my eating disorder fought for its own.
My recovery plan consisted of three meals and snacks per day, weekly therapy and dietitian and group therapy sessions. I had a strict schedule for myself that I followed religiously.
Breakfast was at 6:30 a.m., first snack was at 10:00 a.m., lunch was at 12 p.m., the second snack was at 2 p.m., dinner was at 5 p.m. and the third snack was at 8 p.m. Individual therapy was every Monday, group therapy was every Friday and dietitian appointments were every Thursday.
My life ran on this exact schedule and it was never to be disrupted—if it was, a panic attack would ensue. My eating disorder ran on the concept of control, but I could no longer control the eating aspect, so I chose to manipulate my schedule.
This all changed on Mar. 12, 2021. Many remember this day and just how odd it felt. For me, it was a group therapy day. We all waited to be let in, but the group was smaller than it normally was. Once we sat down. Our therapist announced that only half of the group had shown up that day and the rest had stayed home because they were scared of the oncoming pandemic, now known as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Group therapy ensued as normal; in fact, it was one of the last normal things I did before everything was shut down.
I went home after, had my regularly scheduled dinner and snack and went to bed. At 8 a.m. I was called by my therapist. She told me that we were moving to online therapy. We were both upset.
My schedule was being thrown off and I was terrified, but also I felt free. There was nothing ruling over me. No one at school got to make comments about how much weight I had lost or gained. I did not have to listen to the people next to me talk about intermittent fasting while I sat there and ate my morning snack. I had nothing, but it was everything that I needed. That last bit of control I had over my eating was taken away from me, and suddenly everything got easier.
For the first time in almost two years, I did not have that little voice in my head telling me that I had to look a certain way.
Things were still hard—after all I was on the brink of death just three months prior. I missed my therapist terribly. She was my person. Although it was her job, she always knew what was right for me. I missed my dietitian’s snarky remarks, her rants about the keto diet and her long curly hair. Seeing my group through a screen was difficult too. I was the oldest, so I felt like an older sister to them. All I wanted to do was see them flourish, but I could only see it from a distance.
Life went on—I graduated, went to college, made some friends and my therapist got pregnant and had her baby.
The best part was that my eating disorder did not get in the way. I was discharged from treatment in Feb. 2021, and I do not miss it, but I sure do miss my therapist and dietitian.
Throughout the pandemic, I learned that living life on a schedule is quite boring, and it is much easier to just live.
Emerson Drewes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.