After awhile, my head fell back slowly, as the bristly dirty-blonde mess on my head brushed the pillow. I breathed. In and out. In and out. Oddly aware of the way my body was functioning in that moment, I watched as my stomach moved up and down. After a bit, I reached down with one hand. My palm rested on the full of my stomach. Wow, am I really still alive? I watched as my hand moved up and down, up and down with the beat of my heart, consistency of my breathing, it just hit me—I was still alive. As I gazed upon the wall and watched the little hand jump from one dash to the next, my body began to relax.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
I heard the voices whispering back and forth. I could have depicted the whole conversation, word for word. The tone heightened at times, in exasperation, lowered in times of defeat. Eventually, I heard the shuffling of a chair, a jacket maybe. The swing of the door and a clash as it shut. She needed some air. Back and forth they went, for hours. I wasn’t listening though.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
What did it matter anyway? I mean, whatever little plan they were scheming over there, wasn’t going to fix me. Just because it didn’t work this time, do they really think I wouldn’t try it again?
The mind is a crazy thing. There is no guidebook, no map to help you trek through it with. Maybe that’s why I spent so much time lost in mine. Regardless, I had made my mind up about six months ago. I knew what my life had become. I refused to continue to live if this was all my life was going to be forever. Death was the only escape from the hell that had become my reality.
“Well, how are you feeling?” asked Dr. Guerra as she glided into my room as if she owned the place.
“I just took a look at your most recent set of labs and ultrasound results. Your heart is holding up surprisingly well considering all you’ve put it through with the overdose. Unfortunately, your potassium is at a record low and your…” she continued her medical mumbo-jumbo for a while, telling me all of the reasons I had to stop this behavior and all of the consequences I’d soon face if I didn’t--the most consequential being death.
I honestly didn’t care whether I lived or died, I just wanted it all to go away. I wanted to be free; I just didn’t know how to stop. This method had become the only way I could cope through day-to-day life. Just to get that bit of relief; to not have to feel anything for a few moments in time. This behavior enabled me to feel in control of one thing when everything else seemed so out of control. Seven years had passed by now, since I began struggling. I had willingly given up everything good in my life to follow this addiction, never imagining I could end up in a hospital bed just waiting to die.
My first night in the hospital was spent tossing and turning, constant beeping, distant voices, wailing cries of pain, ceaseless shivering (despite all the layers of blankets) as a result of the bolus, and a lingering fear of accidentally disturbing one of the several needles lodged into my arm and wrists. And then there was the minor disturbance of a nurse coming in every hour round the clock to check my temp and vitals, making sure my heart was still pumping? After a night of more exhaustion then rest, I was woken up at five-o-clock in the morning by a shooting pain in my finger, as the nurse stood beside my bed drawing my blood. This would become my life for the next three weeks.
However, none of this compared to the pain I experienced eating six meals a day. The control I once sought in my seven-year battle with an eating disorder was being pulled away from me and I couldn’t handle it. Despite the fact the my body was on the verge of shutting down as a result of the continual restricting and purging, all I wanted was to be thin and in control, two things the doctors were robbing me of. I felt like no one could understand the pain I lived in.
I knew that when I went back home, I would simply go right back into my old behaviors, the same ones which brought me here. Believe it or not, as the nurses prepared to discharge me a few weeks later, I actually heard two of the nurses making bets on how long it would be before I ended up back here in the hospital. I had tried to stop so many times. With all of my strength, I had fought for my self. For the sake of my family, my friends, my dreams and ambitions, I wanted to stop killing myself. So why did I always go back? For many years, I had battled through this question, wondering where the disconnect was. What was I missing?
Once I realized the strength to fight for my life, to overcome battles and struggles that we all face, did not come from myself or others, I was left pondering—where does it come from? Over the years I have come to learn that strength for true and lasting freedom from any struggle, lies solely in Jesus Christ and an intimate relationship with Him. Deeply contrasted by the more common emphasis on finding one’s ‘inner strength,’ Because humans are sinners, they are always going to mess up and fall short. Rather then looking inside oneself for some sort of greater strength, it’s like there is an answer bigger then oneself, bigger then other people even.
Jesus is bigger then man; He is God! Jesus is the perfect, sinless Son of God; He will never leave anyone or let anyone down. Jesus is not temporary satisfaction, but instead He provides eternal purpose and unspeakable joy. Jesus provides a source of strength incomparable to those in which the world often attempts to implement in overcoming addictions. Hope is not some far-off desire, but an alive and motivating reality that comes naturally in knowing Christ intimately.
Looking back, I never wanted to die, I just didn’t want to live if this was how my life was going to be forever; I was hopeless, purposeless, hurting, broken, and slowly dying. Three years ago, as I lay in that hospital bed waiting to die, I never ever could have imagined I could have the privilege of walking in such freedom and redemption today.
I still don’t know why things happen how they do. I don’t understand why painful things happened to me in my early years that led to years of torment for which I pleaded to end in death. I don’t know why sometimes, days are really hard to battle through and other days are easy.
However, I do know that in my weakness, God’s power is made perfect. I do know that apart from Him, I am just a hopeless sinner in desperate need of a Savior. I do know that I spent seven years of my life chasing death and it is solely by coming to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior that I am living life today. Not just living life, as in surviving or making it through, but experiencing all that life is intended to be! I do know that today I have a purpose and passion to love on other women who are passionately pursing death and to tell them that there is only one way to experience life, but that it is so worth it—that there is no cost too high to pursue Jesus Christ.
“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” — Hebrews 11:24–26
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” — Matthew 16:24
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” — James 4:4