Dear Body: A poem for Eating Disorders Awareness Week by Sara

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This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Monday 26 February to Sunday 4 March)– it is a time to shine an extra bright light upon the issues, challenges and difficult realities faced by those affected by eating disorders, as well as their family members and friends. It is a little known yet very serious fact, that eating disorders claim more lives than any other psychiatric illness.-

Eating disorders are a serious mental health condition, and the devastating truth is that, young women aged 14-25 are at greatest risk, most vulnerable and show the highest prevalence for eating disorder development. Shame, guilt and stigma still pervades and surrounds eating disorders – this narrative must be broken – and the first steps come from talking about it and sharing experiences. And so I do so here.

This is a poem I wrote to my body and myself, following recovering from a debilitating journey fighting Anorexia Nervosa.

Dear Body, I’m sorry.
For all that it put you and I through.
The pain and affliction, the magnitude of the depths, the indescribable torment.
Dear Body, I’m sorry.
For letting it take you to the very threshold of your capabilities, and the brink of your fortitude.
For trying to destroy us.
I don’t know how you coped.
Or managed to function when it made us so weak – I couldn’t.
Dear Body, I’m sorry.
It must have been so hard for you to be left an empty vessel, as I became a silenced soul.
When you were only a tired frame of palpable bones.
Our fingers singed with frozen blood, cold to touch, with no fuel to stoke the fire.
And sunken sockets in shades of silver; lips of lilac, only passing breath.
The light in our eyes all but extinguished.
You changed, and I changed too.
Dear Body, I’m sorry.
That I couldn’t fight it sooner.

Dear Body, Thank you.
For waiting for me.
For holding on when there wasn’t much of you left.
For persevering, for getting me [for getting us] through.
Dear Body, Thank you.
For coming back fighting, even after failing.
Even when the disease made you shut down.
For loving me even when my mind battled against you.
Tortured you.
Dear Body, Thank you.
For doing everything in your power to help us survive.

Dear Body, I love you.
Although we still bear scars, not physical or visible to the eye.
Although, our bones are aged and porous, our heart still healing, our mind adjusting.
We made it. You and I.
Dear Body, I love you.
And I will fight for you, just as you fought for me.
Because, you are the keeper of my soul.
The refuge our heart and mind calls home.
Because we deserve it.

Dear Body, I love you.

Pictures courtesy of Sarah Preston

Sara Preston, aged 30 is originally from Ireland, but has been a Scottish adoptive-native for 10 years since 2008, relocating for University. Sara is Senior National Officer in Scotland, for Beat, the UK’s Eating Disorder Charity. She is also a Winston Churchill Research Fellow in the category of Mental Health and a proud participant of the Young Women’s Leadership Programme through YWCA Scotland. Most Importantly Sara considers the value of her personal experience, having overcome a 10 year battle with Anorexia Nervosa, before entering the professional eating disorders field. You can find Sara on Twitter and Instagram at @Sa_raPreston

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