Dear Eating Disorder…
*Trigger warning: please keep in mind that some recovery stories may mention eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Please use your own discretion when reading and speak to your support system as needed.
*Kelsa Wirth was born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin. She is 24 and just graduated college. She plans to be a teacher and finds joy in the outdoors and spending time with family. Her eating disorder has affected her for over seven years. About two years ago, Kelsa decided to go to treatment at The Emily Program for help with her diagnosis of anorexia. She started residential treatment at the Anna Westin house in Saint Paul, where she received a warm welcome. While terrifying, she says treatment was the best decision of her life. Kelsa transitioned to Intensive Day Programming at The Emily Program following her residential stay. She had a wonderful experience in treatment and believes her team was amazing. Following residential and intensive day programming, Kelsa moved home and resumed her normal life. Unfortunately, after a year, her eating disorder became strong again. She experienced bulimia and shortly after decided to return to treatment at The Emily Program, where she found her true self. Currently, Kelsa is in treatment and back on the road to recovery. She chose to contribute this blog to help those battling an eating disorder and to encourage them to break up with their eating disorders. Kelsa’s advice to anyone struggling is to accept what their eating disorder has done and to be willing to make changes in the future. She believes everyone is worthy of recovery and she hopes that people can remember that.
Dear Eating Disorder,
I have always thought that goodbyes were hard but this one is second to the hardest goodbye I have ever dealt with in my 24 years of living. You have been in my life for over 7 years now and because of that, I have become attached to you; it scares me to even try to imagine living my life without you.
In the past seven years, I have created a new me, someone that isn’t what the typical Kelsa would be. Through these experiences, I have realized that you have truly changed my life in so many ways. I am writing you a letter to simply say goodbye because my healthy authentic Kelsa is becoming more present every day and I want to continue to grow as a person and become free of having you to take over and control me.
I know hands down that I am a strong girl, stronger than you, and I have faith in myself to let you go and live the beautiful life I truly deserve. In the next paragraphs, I will address some things that I missed out on because of you, things that I will miss when I let you go, but most importantly, a long list of thank you’s because although you are something that has destroyed me, I truly am thankful for every second that we have been in our “relationship.” It has truly made me the person I am today as well as the person I will be in the future.
I do not want to bring up much from the past when our relationship was very strong, but there are honestly many things that I missed out on because of you. I am a social butterfly, as many would say. I love to be around people, I love to talk, and I love to have fun. You took all of those things away from me. I wasn’t able to go to family gatherings because I couldn’t be around people and you wouldn’t allow me to eat with others, let alone eat in general. You wouldn’t allow me to meet up with friends, it was not okay, and you told me every word to avoid it. I was constantly missing out on family, school, work, etc., events because of you.
My first love was attached to you. You consumed our relationship. Because of you, the relationship was ruined. Through that, I lost a beautiful family that I held very close to my heart. Yes, it was for the better, but very often I think of that family and I am sad to know that someone like this destroyed relationships like that.
You made packaged foods not allowed, grains were not acceptable or even on a menu. You made exercise take over my life, you simply made me eat until I got sick, which was so uncomfortable. You honestly just took food and made it my entire life and my whole world revolved around it. I never was able to enjoy restaurant food because either I didn’t eat or I only had salads, and if I was lucky, a cup of soup. It makes me so upset that in those seven years I missed out on so many beautiful memories.
The last week leading up to this letter has been extremely hard for me. Harder than any other time during these years of our relationship. I am sad, angry, pissed off, crabby, unhappy and overall feeling a sense of loss. I don’t know how to live without you, it is so hard. You pop up every day, multiple times, and when you pop up it makes it that much harder to let go. As I continue to work towards letting go of you, I do realize that I will miss some things.
I realized that, in reality, there are reasons to try to keep our relationship. Seven years is a long time to be in a relationship. I struggle to let go for many reasons. I miss how I didn’t have to be in control, you controlled me, which made it easier to make decisions. You took up so much of my life that I didn’t have to try to think of other things to do or sit bored. Most importantly, I miss the love you had for me. Honestly, through everything, it was so obvious you loved me, you took control and ran my life. Because of that, I trusted you, more than myself and losing someone I trust is so hard.
There are a few things that I will miss for sure, but they do NOT even come close to the positives I see of letting go of this relationship. I want to thank you for simply creating me into what I am now. Thank you for allowing me to get to treatment, for making me get the care I need to let go of this mess.
I have created some of the most BEAUTIFUL relationships because of you and I am so incredibly blessed and thankful for this. I have been blessed with amazing providers who allow me to have trust in letting go and moving on to be the true authentic Kelsa. I appreciate their willingness to push me, to push me to battle, to push me to try harder than ever and allow me to battle back.
You have allowed me to become more independent which allows me to become stronger and really see the true me. I have learned so much about myself, which has motivated me to become a healthier and happier person. I still isolate at times, but I have become able to be around people and food. I enjoy going out with people and enjoying life more now that I feel free of this relationship.
I have more fun, I laugh more and giggle more than I ever have in my life—that right there shows me that I can handle breaking off this negative relationship. I truly believe that I deserve to be happy and healthy. Saying goodbye has allowed me to do just that.
Exercise is something I enjoy doing, and as I continue to work hard, I am feeling more casual during walks instead of the drive to walk intensely. I am thankful that my body can support me in exercise and that you have taught me how my body can suffer if it is not taken care of in that way.
Thank you for allowing me to take time off of school to care for myself. Through those months, I was able to be placed in wonderful spots for student teaching which would have never happened without the time off. Also, I am glad I had an opportunity to do a subbing job for three months. Thank you for coming in strong when you did but also for allowing me to be strong and make it through the amazing opportunity.
Thank you for allowing me to understand who my true friends are. You are something that is very scary for outsiders and many people run away from it. I have been blessed to inform people about our relationship and understand who is willing to stick with me through it all. You have taught me to hold onto the ones who truly want to know our relationship rather than run from it.
Thank you for allowing me to see my relationship with my mom on a different level. You have allowed me to give some distance, which has been helpful in saying goodbye to you. You have allowed me to regain the relationship I had with my mom and to help her to better understand the person I am.
Letting go of you and what we have is allowing me to regain my relationship with my mom and have healthy boundaries that are making us stronger. She is the most beautiful support system and she has helped me to beat you by allowing me to trust the care team that I have been presented with. Even though you don’t want her to know about me, I have allowed her to beat you and be present within every part of this that she can be. She is such a blessing and I wouldn’t be able to want to get over this without her guidance and love.
Thank you for allowing me to find the love of my life. Although you honestly crushed my first love, I truly believe that every part of you and your nasty ways has led me to my absolute one and only. The break you forced me to take a little over a year in a half ago was needed in order to really understand exactly what my body needed and where I was at with life in general.
You allowed me to come home at the perfect time to be introduced to this guy. Through this relationship, I have grown to love someone more than I ever knew was possible. This guy is honestly my biggest support. He is by my side through every battle, encourages me daily and pushes me to be my best and to let go of something that he knows could kill me.
If it wasn’t for this relationship, I think we (me and you) would still hold a very strong relationship. I would love you as much as I used to and I would rely on you to make my decisions. I would let you run my life, and honestly, you maybe would have set me back down a bad road that I was on before.
Instead of holding on to that relationship, I have formed a new one with Cody where he can trust me and help me. Most importantly, he truly makes me feel like I am the most beautiful girl in the world—something you never once have told me or let me feel. Thank you, thank you for sending me the most handsome man to make me the happiest girl in the world—he is the biggest blessing.
As I finish this letter, there are some tears, sadness, a feeling of loss, but also happiness and love. I truly believe that although you took over my life for as long as you did, I can and WILL survive without you. I am stronger than you are and truly believe that through the strength I have and the outpouring of love and support, I will get through this “breakup” and continue to reach my goals and dreams that I have for myself.
Thank you for all the memories, big and small, and for making me realize just how beautiful life truly is. Not only that but how simply beautiful and strong I am as a person. I have never felt so beaten down as I have from you—but the best thing about it is that it has only helped me to realize now that I can beat anything that comes my way.
You will always be with me even though I say goodbye. With that though, I remind myself that I have boundaries for people, and you will never take over again although your presence may pop up throughout the rest of my life. If you decide to pop up, understand that your presence might be noticed, but it won’t be a priority like it has been the last seven years.
I will miss you, thank you for getting me to where I am today.