I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Because of My Friends' Deaths, I Will More Fully Embrace Life

Thursday night, I received some horrible news-a woman that is a regular attendee of my eating disorders anonymous group died due to complications of anorexia. I did not know her extremely well, but she always seemed really nice and kind. I have heard it said about her that she was willing to help everyone else except herself, which is really sad. Fortunately, I was at one of my support groups when I found out the news and they listened to me as I cried and talked. Her death really affected me-I have been upset over the fact that my medicine has made me gain some weight and I was beginning to glamorize my lowest weight. Mary's death reminded me that anorexia is not glamorous and that it leads to misery and death. After my support group, I talked to one of my close friends about it and she said that she tries to honor her friends' deaths by living fully. She reminded me that if I am going to hang around in recovery communities, then I will have to get used to the idea of people dying young. Recovery is tough and not everyone makes it. That statement was surely apparent to me Thursday night, as Mary was not the only person I found out had killed herself this week-I consider eating disorder a kind of slow, agonizing suicide-a man named Jeff had also killed himself. It reminded me of the time in 2005 when I found out about two friends killing themselves on the same day. That year, I was not doing so well as I am now and at the meeting I told everyone that I was afraid being reminded of my friend's deaths in such a real way would cause me to relapse, but they reminded me that I have a choice and that does not have to be my road anymore.

After my support group, I went to a twelve-step group that people in my earlier support group put on for the patients at Ridgeview. It helped me think beyond myself and my hope is that some of what I said helped the people there. I know the things they said helped me.

Later that night, I went to a club called The Masquerade in downtown Atlanta to meet with some friends that I normally don't get to see. I wasn't sure if I should go, but I kept on remembering what my friend had said to me earlier: honor your friends' deaths by staying fully alive. And so I went and I had a fabulous time! I danced to eighties music set to a techno beat-it was eigthties' night-until the early morning. In my mind, I dedicated my dancing to Mary and Jeff. "Your deaths will not be in vain," I thought. "You were living in misery and could not enjoy life. I will learn from your deaths and I will not make the same mistake. Jeff, Mary, my dancing is for you."

As the night, and then the morning continued, I kept thinking about being fully alive. It was like a door had opened in my mind and I was ready to fully embrace life and love. At the club, I started talking to a friend I had not seen in a while. While we were talking, the light switch of love flipped on and I stepped through the doorway that had opened in my mind. We have been spending a lot of time together ever since and we are now officially in a relationship. I don't think I would have let myself become so open and loving towards someone I had not talked to in a long time if Jeff and Mary had not died. Thank you Jeff, and especially Mary-your lives and deaths will not be in vain. I will fully embrace life, because of you.

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