The diagnosis was a sign of defeat.
I had failed: my body has failed me, and it has failed Anonymous. We were devastated, but we helped each other through it.
“Ellie, you need to stop running. You need to stop high impact sports and relax, or the consequences will be fatal.”
I have heard many variations of that prediction over the last few months from worried friends. For some reason, it sounded different coming out of a doctor’s mouth. Suddenly my whole life has been turned into a numbers game: kg; bmp; percentage.
First Anonymous raged, and she scared me. “You are lazy. You are worthless”. Ellie wept, then they made up.
“We will be together, forever. We can do this, we can endure, we can get stronger; keep pushing. We will make a plan for the future” So very comforting.
We rely on movement. We feast on the euphoric pleasure of endorphins and pain and Anonymous relishes my misery.
I would get up at 6am just to pace before cycling through the wind and rain to the gym.
On a breakfast of three almonds, I did a 5k run and weights session before power walking 30 minutes to an exam, just so I could justify sitting it. Three almonds had been greedy, really.
I left the cinema after 20 minutes because I had sat for too long; I left lectures after 15. I stopped meeting friends for catch ups over coffee because surely that was too lethargic, too indulgent. That’s what Anonymous told me.
I would shudder at the very idea of getting a bus anywhere; nowhere is too far to walk or cycle, no time unseemly.
Anonymous was pleased. Anything to keep the weight down, to slowly torture myself because it made me stronger. Anonymous made me stronger.
But she has made Ellie weak.
“You need to stop running.”
You are lazy.
Oh, my friend is clever. She’s been helping me since the bombshell was dropped, you see. She has found new ways of pushing, of burning, of pushing the weight down further still. We have found ways around resting, recovering, of relaxing. That would be lazy.
Keep moving, you’re so lazy.
Every mouthful tastes shameful, selfish and undeserved.
Ellie needs those mouthfuls. Ellie knows she is sick – Anonymous would surely take care of all that? “Of course, I will make you stronger still”.
Ellie walks everywhere in the heat of the day.
She has panic attacks for eating what she is told, then having to sit.
She gets up at the crack of dawn to do a few stiff and measly planks and sit ups; reminiscing how good it used to feel for her hips bones to rub uncomfortably on the hard floor.
Nothing is good enough for anonymous anymore. Everyday is war.
Moving, keep moving. You are lazy.
There is something about fear that has rattled Anonymous. The more Ellie feels it, the more courage she is given – the louder Anorexia screams, because she is frightened too.
Through the miserable, guilty bites of carrot, I am being forced to listen.
Doesn’t Anonymous make me strong? Doesn’t she help me keep the weight off? Isn’t she right?
Everyday, I am making small steps to stop running from recovery. Ellie has realised she is tired: I am so tired of having to pick a side.
Is it an admission of failure and defeat to take a bus? To eat an apple AND take a bus? Will I gain weight? Should I gain weight? Do I deserve it? Have I earned it?
I really want to be allowed to run again. I want to be strong again.
The problem is, I need to accept that I need to stop running from recovery in the first place.
I have stopped running, and I have stopped denying it. This is a step.
I had the first lie in for 11 months yesterday, and it was beautiful. It was hard, it was controversial, but it was beautiful. This is another step.
Maybe tomorrow, I could read my book for half an hour? This would be a step.
I am going to keep moving, but this time I will have a direction: towards recovery; towards running; but mostly, towards Ellie.