Aug. 24, 2022, 1 p.m.
People who have lived experiences with eating disorders can usually understand what it’s like to closely compare yourself to others, whether it be strangers or loved ones, always negatively pointing out unique differences and spinning those into thoughts that feed the ED. This can be one of the most brutal parts of eating disorders, and yet comparisons were something that both hurt me and supported me through recovery.
I had my first experience with an eating disorder when I was 17 years old, a senior in high school and living in a rural town in southern Ontario with immediate professional treatment out of reach. I was a part of my school’s rugby team, took an interest in the history and english classes offered, and was excitedly applying for Universities to better myself and my future. My days looked steady and slightly boring, but the one thing I could always depend on was always having my sister by my side.
She was, and truthfully still is, my best friend. Born 11 minutes apart, we grew up always grouped together which made individuality quite difficult. She gave me comfort and a friend when I needed one, and I relied on her a lot for emotional support. However growing up beside someone so genetically and emotionally close to you has its toll, as we can both attest I’m sure.
Her excellence on the rugby field made me want to try harder. Her applications to Universities made me want to apply to the same ones and try to get into prestigious programs with scholarships. Her impressive report cards and ability to socialize made me envious and want to do better myself. She was not only my best friend but my biggest competition, too.
When I delved deeper into my eating disorder, all of that rivalry kind of came to a halt when I couldn’t keep up with the imaginary demand I placed on myself. I became weaker, my thoughts and emotions were scattered, and my brain wasn’t working as well as it did. Rather than continuing to achieve excellence, my sister instead made some big sacrifices and helped me shoulder some of the struggle I was living with every day.
She would have snacks and meals with me, sometimes even have second helpings simply because she knew it would make me feel better. She would remind me it was time to eat and encourage me to bring food along to classes when I was too embarrassed to do so on my own. She would sit beside me during spares and listen to me cry about how I simply just didn’t want to continue with recovery. She modeled positive thoughts around food positivity, and managed exercise in a healthier way. When I was sent to inpatient treatment, she would call and text every day and kept my spirits high.
Having a twin is hard. Having a twin whilst experiencing an eating disorder can be a lot harder. Thankfully, what was previously unintentional competition, turned into one of the key cornerstones in my battle with Ana.
Being given someone so close to me in life had really improved my outlook on recovery. She gave an inspiring image of what balance looked like, and provided a patient and loving environment when I needed it most. Previous to my ED, I was seeing her through my green jealousy goggles. Now all I can say is that I wish everyone is as lucky to have someone like her in their journey through recovery.