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Opinion: Martha and Me — Living with an eating disorder

Self-help books and classics are minor compared to the piles of journals on my desk. Conversations between Martha and me.

The red journal traveled across the country with me — from Nashville to New York, Massachusetts to California. The red one had Martha’s voice written all over it.

Martha is my eating disorder.

And Martha followed me everywhere.

When I moved to New York City in August of 2016, she came right along with me.

Subconsciously, I knew moving to a city of isolation meant Martha would demand attention.

I spent months convincing myself Martha’s agenda was harmless. Running to the bathroom during a meal to purge was my excuse for college growing pains. Skipping meals was something normal, health-conscious 20-year-olds did. Taking anger built up inside out on my roommates was a normal “roomie” thing to do.

Martha built tall walls around me. She held my hand while we threw away bags of groceries. She rubbed my shoulders as I told friends I couldn’t go to dinner. She spoke to my parents, telling them everything was all right.

Until it wasn’t.

We all have come-to-Jesus moments.

My dad told me I looked like skin and bones. That I had lost my spirit.

Well, there you go. My come-to-Jesus moment.

Disappointing people is one thing, but when it was one of the people I cared most about, that struck a chord Martha couldn’t stop me from feeling.

Five months into recovery, learning to become Meg again has been my hardest task. School and friendships come second. Recovery comes first.

I never planned on a senior year with recovery.

But now, I can’t imagine one without it.

I talk more than I probably should — maybe to make up for the time when Martha did the talking. I dance in public to the point of embarrassing myself and anyone around me. My laugh sounds like a walrus and, to be frank, I don’t care.

My cry for help is not shy anymore.

I carry notebooks incessantly around in my bag — just ask my professors and friends. “Aha” moments fill my journals, and I find myself filling pages with more hope and less fear.

The harder days are getting fewer and farther between.

People ask how I am doing, and some days I let them know it sucks.

I started sharing my story in December. Recovery allows me to live. I’ve felt emotions I hid from, and now I get to share a story I didn’t know I had the courage to share.

Martha tried to feed me her version of the truth for years. Realizing her truths were a lie is the reason I talk so openly about my battle.

A battle 30 million Americans, both men and women are up against.

A battle in which the female to male ratio for eating disorders is 3-to-1.

A battle that possesses the highest mortality rate among mental illnesses.

In eating disorders, we lose control to the Marthas, or more commonly named, Eds,  as they play games in our minds.

But, the thing about games — there is always a winner.

And, I plan on winning this game.

For more information on the National Eating Disorder Association and resources, visit NEDA’s website.

This article written by Meg MacDonald

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