“The next right thing… the next right thing… the next right thing….”
My head and heart pound, as I wake to the afternoon sun. I’ve spent yet another weekend in bed. No doubt I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight, which will make tomorrow’s workday harder than it already will be.
I try to salvage what I have left of a Sunday. I go to the grocery store and come home to prep some food for the week. It’s all I have the energy to do—and so far from what my eating disorder and depression are asking me to do. Depression screams to go back to bed. My eating disorder rages while my stomach once again growls with hunger pangs. The sweet smell of tomato sauce fills my nostrils as the heat from the just-cooked noodles transfers to the sauce and then into the air.
There’s a hint of hope deep in my bones, deeper than the depression runs.
Still, I can’t see the future, so the next right thing is what I will choose to adhere to tonight. Just tonight. One sliver of one moment in time. Just tonight.
So I choose to do the next right thing, which in this case, is to serve myself some of the spaghetti I’ve managed to make. That’s it. Just put some spaghetti onto a plate. Done. Now what? I ask myself what the next right thing is. It’s sitting at the table. And what once seemed impossible, now doesn’t feel so bad. I don’t have to eat it, all I have to do is sit at the table.
I make it to the table. The smell of the sauce lingers in the air as my hunger pangs once more. Take a bite. The next right thing is to take a bite. So I take one bite. I continue asking myself to do the next right thing until my plate is empty. My stomach is full, which feels wrong, but I know it’s not. My dietitian, my therapist, my friends, all tell me there is nothing wrong with being full. I’m not bad if I’m full. I’m not bad if I’m full.
Ironically, I feel a little lighter, knowing I did three things that, a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do alone: grocery shop, cook, eat. Seemingly simple tasks, but to my eating disorder, they are rebellious acts.
The next right thing is to do the dishes. It feels like too much tonight, but I remind myself that I’ll be thankful in the morning, so I trudge through to the finish.
Countless “next right things” and here I am, three years later. I still struggle sometimes. I know battles with depression and my eating disorder will continue to be the longest war I’ll ever be involved in. But now, I know that I’m in charge. I make the decisions. I sometimes may not be able to see tomorrow or may tend to think I have no future at all. But in those moments, that’s when I remember I have the power to choose the next right thing.
You are more than a number on a scale or a measuring tape. You are human. Messy and whole, capable of so many good things, regardless of your body’s shape. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].