Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
For those of you who have never suffered an eating disorder, or those of you yet to recover, let me try and explain how it feels.
You know when you were a kid and were forced to sit cross legged on the floor for about an hour long assembly in school. You would get cramps in your legs, your feet would go numb. When you stood up the blood would rush back and you’d feel such relief. You would feel your body come to life again – muscles, blood, joints oxygen, bones. There would be pain with it, a kind of aching as your body regains sensation in the areas where it had lost it through being stuck in isolation, but the pain was pleasant. The freedom, the stretch, the end of the pain that you had been waiting to leave behind. I remember one assembly in particular where an older girl stood up and collapsed. I guess for some that happens but I hope they are few and far between; though I am not sure how accurate that hope would be.
I would compare it to the end of exam period when revision is no longer pestering every thought and you can live as you wish to live again. But it’s not the same, because then you know the end has a date but with an ED you don’t. For me, it was fairly gradual but there is no day that marked the end (or I should say it is fairly gradual; it’s not done yet).
It’s like one of those exercise regimes. You keep going and you keep going until your throat is tight and your muscles are begging you to let them breathe as the lactic acid accumulates and chokes them, but you can’t. Because it hasn’t finished yet, whether your body likes it or not. But you know how it feels when you can stop? The relief as you catch your breath?
There is one analogy that I keep imagining tonight and it is a selfish one because the comparison of suffering is… well… incomparible. Ever heard of the bears in China who are caged up whilst bile is drained from their stomach for medicine? If not, please Google it. The moon bears. I am not saying an eating disorder is anywhere near the same league of suffering and I believe I would go my whole life with an ED to free just one bear from such curelty. But I feel like I am uncurling from four years cramped in one of those disgusting, filthy, stomach churning cages. I am stretching. I can feel the outside world again, because the shell of the ED has finally fallen apart that blinkered me from everything else. I can feel the ground beneath me and see that there is beauty in the world that I have been caged from in my own self-destruct.
Of course, I am sure it is very different from the moon bears. They are probably in a hell of a lot of pain when they reach freedom from infections, cuts, wounds, and malnourishment. I imagine that they physically struggle to actually stretch let alone enjoy it after years unable to move. Most die before they even get the chance to experience freedom. And it breaks my heart. But somehow the analogy in the slightest way seemed to describe what I am feeling even if it is utterly selfish to put the two together. I hope you understand what I am saying. Their suffering is indescribably worse but I feel I am exiting a cramped and inhibiting cage and freedom is stunning.
And for the bear’s sake, please be aware of what I am rambling on about