I'll talk more about osteoporosis in a future post, but basically, having restricted for such a long, long time, in a period of my life which is absolutely imperative to healthy bone development (peak one mass is mainly established in the teenage years), as a result my bones have become weak, brittle and susceptible to fracture. If I fell over on the road today, instead of just getting off lightly like a person with healthy bones would - maybe with just a few cuts and bruises, say - it is highly likely that I might break or sprain something due to the weak condition of my skeletal system. I have osteoporosis, serious osteoporosis, at that. And it is all because of my eating disorder.
I try my best not to dwell on it too much, but, sometimes...the cruel, harsh reality does slap me in the face, making me want to cry...cry for everything I lost through my eating disorder. And I realise now, with a bitterness deep inside that tears at my heart every single day...I realise now that some of those things I will never, ever be able to reclaim. And healthy, strong bones is just one of those many things. I will always have osteoporosis, and my bones will never be properly healed. I was never a very sporty person, but as a girl, I adored Irish dancing. The music enchanted me, the magical beat of it pulsating through my veins till my heart seemed to resonate to that beat, too, as if they were both but one. When I danced,I felt truly alive. i could fly across the floor as gracefully as a bird taking flight; as elegantly as a dragonfly skirting across the still waters of a lake. i will always remember my last show in primary school, when I wore a blue dress and led the chain of dancers across the wooden stage, leaping about like a fairy girl released from a lantern. I played a major role in all of the different dances, the names of which will remain with me forever: The Walls of Limerick, the Siege of Ennis, the Haymaker's Jig...
I haven't done any Irish dancing for years now. The last time I think was at a céili in fifth year, during our class trip to the Gaeltacht. But that was about five years ago, now. Now, things are very, very different. A year later, I finished school and left home to go to inviersity, and it was the two years following that Septembber when the real damage was done; and my bones suffered and declined.
Since injuring my foot last year, I have never dared to run, hop or jump or do any other kind of high-impact activity. Including Irish dancing. A few weeks ago Daddy and I took Benny to the vets in portlaoise for his jabs. Stepping into the small, two storey building, my ears immediatly pricked at the curious noises that were floating down from floor above us. tap tap, tappity-tap. I turned to daddy, the question "wonder what they're doing up there" on the tip of my tongue. But the words died on my lips as I heard another sound. an unmistakable, beautifully haunting sound that brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.
They were Irish dancing, of course. My feet longed then to take up the steps, the rhythmic one-two-three, one-two-three that, after all those years, I still remembered, and loved.
I don;t know if I will ever be able to Irish dance again. Or run, or do gymnastics, or ski, or go ice skating. Or ride a horse across meadows and forests and beaches. Things I have always wanted to do, which I always dreamed of doing, sometime in the future. But now my bones are weak and fragile. One fall, and I could snap like a twig. All because of what my eating disorder did to me, of what it took away from me.
If anything good can be dervied out of what has happened to me, what I have been through...it is this. I am going to utilise my sotry and my experience to demonstrate just how devestating the consequences of holding onto an eating disorder can be, whether the sufferer be young or old, male or female; mildly or severely ill. I would do anything to go back in time and change everything before it became too late to save my bones and stop myself from becoming so deeply enmeshed in my eating disorder. But I know I can't and I can only deal with what I have left. I hope that be retelling my story and highlighting just how harmful the effects of having an eating disorder can have on a person, I will be able to make some contribution to the ongoing fight against this horrible mental disease which touches, taints and destroys so many lives.