The day before I turned 21, I was admitted to the hospital for the first time due to my eating disorder. I had reached a crisis, though it wouldn't be my last. My friends had celebrated their 21st birthdays with a drink and a cake, surrounded by friends. They did shots of vodka and tequila.
I got to do a shot of Ensure.
It was the first of many miserable birthdays, of foregoing my own cake, or throwing it up, or throwing it out. Cake was fattening. I didn't deserve cake.
Since that day, exactly seven years have passed. I am now 28. And today, I finally celebrated my 21st birthday.
I worked my usual long, hellish day. Then, some co-workers and I did our usual weekly Happy Hour outing to a local bar. I ordered my iced tea and some chicken tenders, and we sat and chatted and played with the new iPhone that someone had. We discussed bowling and housewarming parties, skunky beer and old school Atari video games. And then I went home.
For most people, this would be normal. Not even a blip on the radar- a night out (even a birthday night out) with friends.
But for the past eight years, my life has been anything but normal. I've spent several birthdays in treatment or in the hospital. I've gone months without seeing a friend. I've gone months without venturing into a restaurant. Years without eating something fried. Now, I am older, healthier. Certainly not recovered, but certainly hanging in there.