A letter to anorexia 


“Dear Ana, I can’t live without you, but it’s killing me to keep you alive.”

These lyrics, from Matthew Koma’s single Dear Ana, ring eerily true. Because you’re killing me, Ana. You’re sucking me dry and you won’t stop until there’s nothing of me left; you won’t stop until I’m dead. I should hate you, I do hate you, but the thought of letting you go, of committing to this evasive recovery that everyone preaches, terrifies me. You’re a part of me now, and saying goodbye is like losing a piece of me.

People don’t get it. They see your evil ways, loud and clear. They watched as I faded away, and they blamed you, entirely. But you didn’t come looking for me. You didn’t stalk me like some obsessed ex-lover. You weren’t the needy loner begging to be my friend. I found you. I invited you over, I wanted to get to know you. I wanted to discover the things you could offer, the things you could make me feel, the ways you could help me. I was desperate for your help, so help me you did.

And oh how you saved me! You made it all go away. You made me less anxious, less afraid. You made things matter less; you made me care less. You taught me that if I didn’t care, I couldn’t feel bad and I couldn’t feel hurt. You made me feel strong. I was proud of you; so, so proud of you. My invisible little cheerleader, you helped me feel good about myself. You spurred me on, you congratulated me when I succeeded. You were there, when other people weren’t. You were there to take the pain away; you were there to help me cope.

But it turned sour, didn’t it? Nothing I did was ever enough anymore. You had made me numb, and I was grateful: I couldn’t worry, I couldn’t fear, I couldn’t even cry. But I couldn’t smile, either. Not genuinely anyway: you made sure I always had a fake grin to hand to ward off anyone who suspected anything, anyone who doubted my insistences of I’m fine. But I didn’t care much for laughing anymore, because I was too busy pleasing you. You were selfish and you wanted me all to yourself, so my world shrank, leaving nothing but me and you, calories and kilos.

You are my angel and my demon, my friend and my foe. But I’m tired now. I’m tired of trying to make you happy, and I’m tired of always letting you down. I’m tired of your abuse and your insults and your stark cruelty. They say friends come into our lives for ‘a reason, a season or a lifetime.’ Perhaps in the beginning you had a reason: you’ve hurt me beyond belief, but maybe you healed me too. Maybe you’ve taught me things I needed to know, or maybe you were just in the right place at the right time. Maybe when I needed something, it was just a coincidence then you came along. Because in my life as an entirety, I think you’ll just be a season. The bleakest, darkest winter. But no matter how long these cold months last, no matter how insufferable and impenetrable the gloom may seem, spring will always come and life will always bloom once more.

So, Ana, my protector and my persecutor, thank you for everything. Thank you for nothing. Now, it’s time to say goodbye.