ALEXANDRIA, VA – It is not even a full year since the United States first started attempting to control the rapid spread of COVID-19. As the death toll rose and the restrictions on what we deemed “normal” was rising, epidemics of a different variety surfaced as well. One of those was mental health. We realized how important things like routine, community and socializing truly are. In our socially isolated states, horrible squatters like depression and anxiety moved into our bedrooms and home offices. In my case, an old roommate came knocking at my door when I contracted COVID-19.
As much as this truth hurts, I had other pressing concerns when I was trapped in my confined quarters while my family feared for my health.. The hypnotic and sickly-sweet voice of my eating disorder came to give me a sense of control when I lost all control of everything else. This was not a cold I could just power through or a stomach bug that would go away after 24 hours. I was alone and sick, but an eating disorder could keep me company, right?
I had been lured by anorexia before and was held under its influence for years. Memories that I wish were happy ones were tainted by disordered thoughts, so much so that I was absent from so may experiences. Certainly, I have had moments in recovery life when I have been triggered, and the pull to go back to disordered habits is strong. Luckily, the support system I have is ordinarily able to hold me up while I sort through my emotions and thoughts.
But this time, I was far from my family in Oregon. The physical barrier of my bedroom door and my boyfriend may not have been much, but the idea of coming in contact and spreading this disease to people I love and care for was impossible to cross. I might as well have been on my own planet.
To make things worse, the symptoms of COVID-19 attacked my gastrointestinal system. I felt extremely nausea, lost my sense of taste and smell (only briefly but still enough to cause distress), lost my appetite and just did not feel any urge to eat. Somehow, some small part of me still had some fight left. I made myself eat things that I liked. I ate meals with my boyfriend and furry baby on the other side of the door. I simply picked up the fork or spoon and took a bite.
This year’s NEDA Eating Disorder Awareness Week means more to me than it has in recent years. I realize that my life in recovery is so precious and important to me but can be rocked so violently as to make it hard to keep going on this path. This year’s theme is “Every Body Has A Seat At The Table,” and I invite you to seat at my virtual table and listen. Listen to the stories that surround you about experiences you can relate to, stories about experiences you can’t even imagine and holding space for them. It can make all the difference.
In Other News: Alexandria Drive-In Returns for Spring 2021