I'm Sorry For All The Times I Said No To Your Invites
"I'm sorry, I can't".
"I have something else that night".
"Maybe next time?"
But more truthfully…
"I want to. I really want to. But I just don't have the energy. I'm so tired and my legs feel a little weak and I'm dizzy. I wish it were like old times; we used to have so much fun together. I want to go back to that. But there might be food tonight and I don't want to eat any of it because I'm scared of gaining weight. I'm scared to have a glass of wine with you because of the calories. I really, truly want to see you but my anxiety is keeping me at home, in my pyjamas, alone".
Literally speaking, isolation is a term used in prison when criminals are placed in solitary confinement and are restricted from any human contact for days to weeks on end.
How could anyone CRAVE isolation? My eating disorder did.
Quite honestly, I have lost quite a few friends over the past nine years due to my eating disorder. Now, I am not here to seek pity. Because the thing is, I don't blame these people. You can only offer someone an invitation so many times; after awhile, hearing "no" over and over will naturally limit your desire or motivation to keep asking. And I understand that. We are all human, after all. When you hold out your hand to someone, you expect them (or wish for them) to grab hold every now and then. But when they don't... well, you hold out your hand a little less often.
I want to clarify a couple of things for you. In dealing with a mental illness, I said "no" to invites more often than I would have liked. So, here I will set the record straight and explain WHY I rejected these invitations.
My physical health prevented me from going out, especially at night. After starving myself all day, and using pure adrenaline to fuel myself at work and school, I was exhausted come 6pm. Naturally, the likelihood that I would go out for ANY nighttime activity was slim to none.
Social situations most often involve food, and the mere thought of being around food terrified me. A bite of something meant extra calories ingested. A drink might lead to a couple drinks which would bring my caloric total for the day way out of my comfort zone. And, being surrounded by food without actually eating meant explaining myself to others or involved insane levels of temptation and the corresponding fight to prevent myself from putting anything near my mouth.
My anxiety kept me home a lot, too. Oftentimes I would "accept" an invitation but as the hour drew near, I would panic... sometimes about nothing. Once I cancelled a date twenty minutes before I was supposed to meet the guy because anxiety overtook me and I was an uncontrollable mess.
My physical appearance stopped me from attending many social events, too. I feel that there's still a misconception out there that people who suffer from anorexia may like or embrace the way they look once they've lost weight. This is wrong on two accounts. First, although INITIALLY I felt more comfortable once I had lost a couple of pounds, the weight loss was never enough. "Five more pounds", your mind tells you. "Just lose five more pounds and then you'll be happy". But that thought remains present throughout, so five more pounds leads to ten more pounds which leads to fifteen more pounds and so forth. So, many times I turned down invitations because I felt like I was too large. Secondly, there comes a point for me (and here I'm speaking for myself) when I realized I was too thin. Pants didn't fit anymore and the only thing I could wear were leggings, and all tops had to have long sleeves, otherwise people would see my bones. Imagine finding an outfit for clubbing that meets this criteria. I truthfully did refrain from going out at times for fear that people would judge me for being too thin.
I am not someone who has been diagnosed with depression, and I don't believe I suffer from it. However, for a couple of years of my life, I felt very, very sad. So much so that I would cry myself to sleep and wake up crying the next morning. The mere thought of seeing others made me cringe; it was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn't want to project my dark thoughts onto anyone else, and I didn't want them to try and enlighten me with their encouragement. During these years, it was not so easy to "lean on someone". Truthfully, I didn't want to invite anyone into my world.
Social situations are hard, too, when you're underweight. Your brain is so consumed with thoughts about food and weight and those obsessions prevent you from being present and mindful with others. Sometimes, when I would force myself to go out, I wasn't really there. Physically, yes, but mentally, no. I was literally a vacant shell... and interacting with others was excruciatingly taxing.
I guess what I'm trying to say with all this is: "I'm sorry". I still think about all the people that have come and gone in my life and although I try not to regret anything, I do get frustrated that the eating disorder caused me to say "no" to so many social invitations. It's really not the true me... as someone who is actively engaged in recovery, I LOVE being social. I crave it.
Everyone needs their alone time, and I for one definitely understand that. I think my message here is that if someone declines an invitation of yours, be kind. Sometimes there are so many other things lurking below the surface... things that we are unaware of. As human beings, though, we were not meant to live alone. So keep reaching out that hand. Eventually, your loved one will take it. I'm holding on to a bunch of hands now.