Driving home from work, I listen to the morning radio announcers discussing Pink's recent appearance at an event where a friend of hers was given the Duke Award in acknowledgement of her efforts to eradicate cancer. The topic of conversation revolves around the recent 'fat-shaming' of Pink's appearance at the event.
As the announcers applaud Pink for her classy response to the haters, they read a quote in which Pink describes how she currently feels about her body: ""Willow said to me the other day whilst grabbing my belly, 'mama, why are you so squishy?' And I said, "because I'm happy, baby.'"
To be happy not only with the squishy parts of my body but also to simply have so much self-worth that happiness is not directly correlated to my efforts to control my weight is such a foreign concept, and yet, I can't help but feel envy for those who, like Pink, do not rely on their daily caloric intake for their sense of identity.
My eating disorder forbids me from looking at any part of my body. It warns me that the mirror will point and sneer, and direct me to the nearest box of laxatives. When I heard Pink say, "because I'm happy," I was fascinated. What does it take to reach such a level of mental health that food consumption is not immediately followed by shame, guilt, self-loathing, sadness? That needing a bigger dress size does not mean anything more than the simple fact that I am happy?
And yet, wearing a smaller dress size, being considered skinny is still not enough to quell the hellish voice that controls what I put in my mouth. At work the other day, while a couple of my co-workers were discussing a recent diet trend, as I tried to ignore the recipe for a cleanse that guarantees a five pound weight loss in one week, I desperately wanted to pull out a pen and paper and write the ingredients down.
Instead, I sank lower knowing that this monster will trail after me forever, encouraging me to ask one of them to repeat the recipe, or grasping my fingers, the monster will force my shaking fingers to google additional weight loss tricks for those of us who have already mastered the art of starvation. Anorexia websites abound, and despite being a grown woman with knowledge that this is a deadly disease, my mind is caged with demons that prefer to see me starve until the illness takes me to such levels that there shall be no rescue.
In the midst of my coworkers' conversation, as I struggled to refrain from placing my hands over my ears and singing, "I can't hear you I can't hear you," one of them said to me, "You're so lucky. You're skinny. You don't have to worry about this." The eating disorder does not allow this to be a compliment in which I can sit back, and enjoy a moment of peace in the skin God gave me. Instead my mouth crinkled with sadness at the thought that I wasn't skinny enough.
Why am I lucky? Because I can go for days with nothing more than a few salads, hold the dressing? That I am proud of the fact that I can swallow a handful, like I'm talking a big-ass handful of Ex-Lax? That even with these sick, sick attempts to make myself feel happier by pulling out the scale every morning, ever so quietly that my family members won't realize that this is as much as an addiction as the calorie counting and the amount of times I make myself walk up and down the hall at work in an effort to lean out -- that even my awareness that these are deadly measures I've put into place, I cannot stop. And people fat-shaming anyone, but clearly someone who is not the least bit fat, only serves to fuel a desire to up my game of Russian roulette.
According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, one in 10 people will seek treatment for an eating disorder, and of those, only 35 per cent will do so in a proper medical facility specializing in such treatment. I have sought treatment, but honestly, this mental disorder is complex, not thoroughly understood, and I know from experience that medical professionals are themselves baffled, their response often the equivalent of, "All you have to do is eat, you'll be fine." Despite the fact that eating disorders are the number one killer for those suffering from mental illness, society also has the mindset that eating is a simple human response to hunger, and anyone who chooses not to comply should not complain.
I so wish I could say I was happy. I wish my brain functioned normally, and like many other mothers, I could accept a body that gave birth four times, and had some squishy left on it. But I don't and, right now, and perhaps forever, I won't even though squishy could mean I'm happy and full.
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