Vulnerable. I hate that word. It makes me feel weak, powerless, and alone. It makes me feel that I am a failure and a disappointment to people around me. To be vulnerable means to show your weakness to others and to be exposed in front of them – at least, that is what it means to me.

I have always been the type of girl who likes to appear strong in front of others. I do my best to smile all the time, to look composed and ‘put together’. I get embarrassed when I make mistakes, although I try my best to see the bright side of things.

Now, say hello to ED. He is great at making me feel inferior to everyone around me. When ED came along, I felt that my vulnerability increased. When people knew that I was sick, I was so worried that everyone would start to treat me differently. I was afraid that people would look at me and comment on my eating habits or body shape, or simply the way I looked. Having this illness made me feel weak; I was scared that others would see me this was as well. And for a long time, this fear kept me locked up inside of my home, terrified of seeing others because of their reactions. I did not want people to judge me or make fun of me because of my sickness.

As I am recovering, I am still worried that people will look at me and see my vulnerable side. I am anxious that people will not see Marina, the smart nursing student, the respectful daughter, the caring friend, the loving sister, or the faithful servant. Instead, I worry that they will only see Marina, the girl with an eating disorder who is gaining weight daily and no longer looks thin. I do not want them to see me as a sick individual who has problems with her body image, self-esteem, or accepting her shape. Deep inside, I am frightened that they will not see the good parts of me, and that they will only see the negatives – just like ED does.

It is really hard to admit this vulnerability to others because I am scared that they will not understand. I am terrified of the day when someone tells me ‘ why don’t you just EAT?’ or ‘you have gained weight and now look so healthy’.  I don’t want people to say ‘oh, you know Marina, that girl who has anorexia’. I want people to know me for ME. I would not mind if people knew me as the girl RECOVERING, but when I am labelled by my illness, it hurts. It makes me feel as if I need to hide from society because I do not belong. And once I start to isolate, ED takes advantage of that and begins to creep back into my life. He takes this chance to remind me that I am all alone, that I am the black sheep of the community because I have anorexia.

So, for now, I am trying my best to remind MYSELF that having this illness does not make me anymore vulnerable than the average person. I am sick with anorexia, but anorexia does not define who I am. Being ill does not make me weak or useless – it just means that I (like everyone else in the world) am struggling with an obstacle in my life. The great news is that there is hope that I can, and will, recover. Humans all have their weaknesses – this is mine. There, I said it. And if anyone wants to use my illness against me, they are a waste of my time. (That includes you, ED!).

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