Finding The Gray Area

February 5, 2013
By , Port St Lucie, FL
I can’t find the gray area.
I’m a failure at recovering from my eating disorder. That’s the realm with no speck of light to be seen. Black.
I’m a failure at losing enough weight, starving myself to the bone. That’s the realm where every mistake I make will mark, and trying to erase only reminds you that it will never be or look like it used to. White.
Professionals call this ‘all-or-nothing thinking’, or even ‘black-or-white thinking’. It’s very common in the eating disorder world. Or even the general population, for that matter. It’s easy to isolate myself into that eating disorder world. I have to remind myself that I’m part of the real world, too. When I consider how much the world – with all its people and trends and snide remarks – contributed to my eating disorder, I get an urge to brush away those reminders. What if I don’t want to be part of that world?
And I tried to make it so I wasn’t. I tried to overdose once, when I was fourteen. Preceding that attempt, I’d been starving myself for nearly a year and a half. And it didn’t stop after I woke up that morning, staring at the sheets I’d grown up with instead of the fiery pits of Hell that generations of us have imagined. No, even after three different treatment centers specializing in eating disorders, even after four hospitalizations for my low body weight, after eight and a half months of intensive treatment overall – I couldn’t keep my suicidal thoughts at bay. I didn’t want to be in any world, ‘eating-disorder’ or alike.
After four months of *residential treatment at a new center, I’m home. I’m at a healthy weight for my height for the first time in a little less than four years. My mom can’t realistically liken my legs to Twiggy’s anymore, and I can take my own medicine (anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications) without having the intention of grabbing all that I can to attempt another overdose.
But I’m not perfect. I still can’t find that gray area. I don’t blame the world; I don’t blame ‘the media’. I blame me. I’m a seventeen-year-old that’s been bouncing between therapists and dieticians since she was fourteen years old. And that fourteen-year old had been mutilating her arms and depriving herself of food even before that.
I still have more to overcome. Or, if you want to look at it in another light, I still have a lot to lose. And even that statement can have a double meaning. But really, I don’t think there is a perfect recovery. I can place that black realm on the highest pedestal, from ground level to the clouds, but I also can tell myself that the reason I can’t see it when I peer out a window is because it does not exist. I can run from all that tempts me towards the blindingly white realm, or I can fight to find the outskirts of the beautifully, perfectly black realm and chill with other imperfects. And by imperfects, I mean every other human being on the face of the Earth who is fighting their own devil. The devil can be an empty hope chest or an addiction that deserves as much understanding as the next kid with a rare brain disorder.
Mix a pinch of perfect with a whole load of disaster, and you’ve got me. But at least then I know, when I do further pursue that ‘gray area’, I’ll find myself right there with it.

* “A residential treatment center (RTC), sometimes called a rehab, is a live-in health care facility providing therapy for substance abuse, mental illness, or other behavioral problems” –

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