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  • Lindsay S. Wheeler

Empty Space

I wake up in the morning to 20 seconds of contemplation; the inevitable thought storm. It’s a new day with potential for all the good things I’ve only ever had for fleeting moments, but without fail, the mental game plays itself on. Will it be one of the good days or one of the bad ones, and do I determine the answer? Recovery has been a five-year-process; it will be a course of many more. But it still tortures me to wonder why on the outside I look so shiny and yet the mess remains. I got a new therapist last week - to make this go the hell away - but I'm smarter than believing it will. It is an everyday battle in which winning looks only like a functional existence.

I have harnessed the highs and lows through everyday methods that finally feel safe. Qualms about the routine insertion of a fork in food remain. With delight, I rode on the wave that medication and long distance running gave me for months, mislead by endorphins and the novelty of chemical balance. I believed in a new life; in the stark departure from the same reality. But my knees soon gave way to the submission of joints on pounding pavement. I had to retire the only faith I had in this new religion; the religion of bodies, and the aptitude they have to run forever on an uncertain earth that quakes below. The church sheltered my legs, heart, and breath as I ran through problems, pain, and what hope still remained. But all at once it burned to the ground by the blasphemy of an orthopedist. I couldn’t run 10 miles a day forever; I had to choose my body or the sanctity of a clear mind. For the first time, I chose my body.

And today, my body is better for it. The pounds that now hang from a once empty shell, a body struggling to hold on, gave my heart the strength it needed. The peace of mind I pray will someday jump on board without apprehension, has not. Eating is the purest form of shared bliss. The act of putting nutrition to your lips sends shockwaves through your body and challenges your brain. Is it butter or MDMA melting in my mouth? Food is what distorts us and heals us all at once. Very few of us know a world uncomplicated by it. I crave the day that disordered thoughts don't consume my mind the way my stomach consumes chocolate. I loathe the voice in my head that promises me I need it to be whole; the same voice that tells me I am a parasite seconds after eating. Food is the Ebola scare of 2014 and eating it is cradling the bowling ball used by the first confirmed case against my face.

The pounds clinging to me like a foreign body I wish to abandon are years' worth of accomplishment. I want to wear a hazmat suit around them so I don’t get sick again. The pounds are radical resistance to the deepest fear I know; they are survival. My best friend was once the space between my hip bones and the endless vacuity around me. I was alone with the only thing that mattered and now it is victimized by flesh. All that should matter now is that my heart still beats by the love that surrounds me. The voices that now prevail say I'm worth more than what the void beside my hips once made me; an empty space that once was, and that still could be.

#eatingdisorder #EDNOS #mentalhealth #mentalillness #writing #depression #bipolar #bipolardisorder

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