To the girl I see at the gym everyday:
Each day I walk up the steps to the cardio equipment at my gym, I hope that maybe you won’t be there. But, then again, I am relieved when I see you because I know you are still surviving.
I see you. I see you wearing a sweatsuit to workout. Those baggy sweatpants that you have to tie at the waist to keep them in place. At some point in your past, they fit a completely different way. Your huge hooded sweatshirt drapes down your body as you go through the movements on the elliptical. I once was in your shoes. Baggy clothes not only keeps our frigid bodies warm, but it hides the devastating damage that has been done to our frame.
Your skin is so pale and hair so thin. It may be pulled back in a ponytail, but I see your once healthy and shiny hair thinning to just a few strands. I was once in your shoes. It happened to me too.
I have never seen you smile or talk. I know how difficult it is to do so when we are malnourished and engulfed in irrational, relentless thoughts about food, our weight, and how we look. When we are constantly at war with ourselves, it becomes quite depressing. I, too, was socially withdrawn and listless.
Even though you are wearing sweats, I can see your skeletal frame, boney clavicles and jagged kneecaps. I’m terrified that any moment your unstable legs are going to give out on you.
I see your sunken, hollow cheekbones, and your stoic expression. I’m watching as each day gets worse and you are withering away to almost nothing. More than your physical appearance, I can feel the deep pain and suffering you are experiencing. I can see the uphill, unachievable battle you are fighting.
I wish I could go up to you and shake you. I wish there was something I could do to help you. I just like you, know that wouldn’t work. Instead, I will pray that a friend or loved one gets you the professional help you need, and that even the tiniest part of you wants to make a change.
Trust me, living like a prisoner to your eating disorder is like not living at all. You have too much to offer to this world. I see you. And, I hope I keep seeing you.
Much love and hope,
The stranger at that gym who has survived an eating disorder