I press each finger into the mat. My fingers are sore from writing essays and scribbling notes. My knuckles crack as I press into them. I push back into my hips and feel my calves stretch. My tendons tighten as I stretch into downward dog. The instructor conducts our breathing. I’ve been going to the free yoga at the university three times a week. I’m finally back in my body. Paying attention doesn’t hurt the way it used to. We’re a team.
This was not always the case. Depression makes your body a foreign object and an eating disorder makes it your enemy. I felt the antagonism of an eating disorder first. The hatred of wanting. The cravings that bring you to the fridge. Your body weak and fleshy and everywhere. I just wanted my body to shut up and leave me alone.
Then depression left me disoriented. Suicidal ideation left me feeling like my body had up and run away. I experienced dissociative episodes. This period reminds me of piano music, someone mourning with the keys. I was surprised other people didn’t immediately see anything wrong. That they could even see me at all. I watched people walk by and felt like an alien observer, not one of the humans myself. I looked at my hands and was surprised when I could make them move. It was eerily peaceful. I was losing my mind.
Dissociation passed and I was left with the raw nerve. I felt the itchy anticipation of perpetually watching the seconds tick on. Life was the last five minutes of math class or a jog on the treadmill or waiting in line. I had to escape.
My eating disorder came to the rescue. It’s function now much more seductive. I starved and felt nothing. My blood barely reached my extremities. My heart ticked but the time wasn’t steady. The stars in my head were all I could see. My thoughts were finally quiet. Numb.
But that is no way to live. Either you feel everything or you don’t feel at all. It was lonely being a zombie. I wanted to connect to my friends and my family and maybe even myself. Maybe, maybe, maybe my body wasn’t so bad. I tentatively waved a white flag and my body forgave me. I can’t think of many enemies that would do that.
I tried to take care of my body like you’d take care of an exotic plant. You get the general sense it needs water and food and sunlight but you’re not sure in what amounts and what times. Thankfully, your body wants to communicate. You just need to listen.
I had a hot bowl of soup when I was cold and hungry. I went to bed earlier. Drank more water and less diet Coke. I redecorated my room and washed my sheets. I’d light a candle that smelled like vanilla. I went to yoga again and again. I tried to be nice to myself. I was stranded for so long but I finally came home. Maybe we could look out for each other. Maybe we could be friends.