Two boys - one was younger, the other older. Their stories are different, but they both arrived in Taiping, China on crutches, seeking in the Eastern practice of energy healing, or Qi, a remedy to manage their illness. Turns out they walked out on their own feet. Both walked out cured.
Their stories are incredible, and their resilience is what strikes me the most. Deciding to dedicate their life to practicing Medical Qi Gong, they became Grand Master’s students, and are now Master Wu’s disciples. It is how I met one of them.
My story is not the same. If you ask me today, I’ll wholeheartedly say I was lucky to be in my shoes and not in theirs. But if you asked me a few years back, I would have swapped my illness for any other. Getting out of my eating disorder brain, invaded by all consuming, critical and torturing thoughts was the miracle I was dreaming of. In the midst of a mental illness, when your recovery journey starts, it’s hard to imagine anything worse than how you have it in that moment. I don’t say this enough but I really suffered.
When I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand I was what you call “weight restored” but very aware that I wasn’t my old self yet. Not only was I still consumed by disordered thoughts, more worryingly I was feeling very weak and fatigued. But empathy was no longer there. One could now scan me and say how healthy I looked. Oh how many times I’ve heard this phrase as I regained weight… Perhaps even more times than being told I was too thin, which mind you, was daily. People are quite vocal about what they see as positive, ignoring the fact that appearances can be deceiving!
Master Wu however, he saw me for how I felt. Without me saying anything, he diagnosed me as vulnerable to disease, holding an acute blockage in the body, which had to be attended to. His recommendation was that I start opening up about experiences, sharing my worries and struggles, confiding in family. “Release that which you hold inside” he said, and my eyes filled up with tears I this once wasn’t able to restrain.
Two months after returning from the trip, I started my recovery blog and instagram account, and a few months after that, I was openly speaking about my experience with anorexia. I vocalized it more than I thought would be beneficial, but it was very much part of my life, so I stopped negating it happened; I stopped trying to oppress that period of my life; I stopped trying to move on. I admitted to myself and to others my fascination with eating disorders and recovery and I ceased to feel weird about how enlightening of a journey suffering has been.
And here’s for the cringe punch line:
One year later, I was back in Bangkok, Thailand for a follow up with Master Wu. I didn’t even get the chance to sit down comfortably for the examination before he said: “You look strong”. I smiled and responded, “I am strong”.