A Letter To My Best Friend
I remember the day that we spoke for the first time. The start of Year Seven. I was loud, confident, and overly chatty. You were quiet, shy, and kept to yourself. I remember us coming up to you at the picnic bench. You were reading a Jacqueline Wilson book. When we sat down, you put the bookmark in and closed the book. Whatever happened then defined so many core moments of my teenage years. Growing up through secondary school with you was an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. And, eleven years later, I feel so lucky you are still my best friend.
I didn’t see anorexia coming if I’m honest. We were sixteen by the time it really reared its head. I was wrapped up in my own mental health challenges, something I felt incredibly guilty about once I found out. I know anorexia is an illness and I know there was nothing I could have done to stop it, but I was out of school for months. And when I returned, it seemed like you weren’t really you anymore.
You have always been quiet, but in our secondary school years, you changed a lot from the shy year seven girl at the table. You became braver, and bolder, and made me laugh – a hell of a lot. But when I came back to school, you seemed more like the girl I had met back then. Quiet, withdrawn. There was a lot that you couldn’t do anymore and that you weren’t allowed to do because it wasn’t safe.
That Summer, I missed you. I remember coming to your house and sitting with you in your room whilst you lay in bed. You fell asleep because your body was struggling. It scared me. The rest of the time it seemed like you weren’t around. You couldn’t come out with us. You couldn’t come to my birthday party. I will admit, I was upset that my best friend wasn’t there. But I wasn’t upset with you. I was upset at Anorexia. And upset for you because you were missing out on too much.
That is what Anorexia did to you. It stole memories and opportunities. It took my best friend and drained the life from you. It made you sad. Anorexia made you not you anymore. But the worst thing it did was convince you that none of that was true and that it was your friend. That made me angry sometimes and sometimes it was hard to separate you from Anorexia, because there was a time it seemed to take over completely.
Whilst watching you be consumed by Anorexia and seeing you so unwell was horrible, seeing you becoming you again as your treatment progressed was so joyful. There were many days when I saw you unable to overcome its voice and the lies of both Anorexia and Depression. I did worry on those days about what your future would look like. There were many more days like this, I imagine, that you did not let me see. Gradually, the days where you showed Anorexia who was in charge became greater, and life gained some normality back again.
I know you still struggle, and I know the voice of Anorexia is still there at times. That’s why, although I am so very proud of you for working through the parts of Anorexia when I thought I had lost you, I am even more proud of the way you have continued to fight every day in the years since then.
I am so thankful that Anorexia did not take you away forever because that was a very real fear for a while. You make every birthday celebration more special, every trip we take twenty times funnier (even if I do still have to drive everywhere!) and every day I feel a low a little brighter because you are always at the end of the phone. I am very lucky to have you to call on any time I need a Starbucks trip.
Thank you for being my friend. And I hope, more than anything, that Anorexia never takes you away again.