Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Every eating disorder story is different. Different reasons for recovery. Different motivations. Different explanations as to why you got where you did.
My Eating disorder started in 2017. Before starting college, I used to be an active horse rider. Meaning, I was completely free and comfortable with what I ate as I was doing enough activity for it to not affect me. Food was equally enjoyable and also the most insignificant thing in my life. I didn’t think twice about it. Only when deciding between a burger and a pizza.
When studying for my A Levels, I gave up horse riding. My favourite thing but also my means of activity. Naturally, I began to gain weight. My exercise stopped however I continued to maintain the diet of a horse rider. That, combined with the stress of studying and exams, I went through a period where I was eating copious amounts of food a day. Constantly snacking. Having too big a portion size. Eating everything out of moderation. So, it could be said that it was at this point where my eating disorder began.
Naturally, as you would, I gained weight from this. Enough so that I could no longer fit into my clothes and had to buy the next size up. For a while, this didn’t bother me. I still ate completely what I wanted; and more. However, as the summer approached, I began to feel self-conscious. I had holidays planned where I wanted to feel comfortable in myself. I wanted to have that ‘beach body’ (even though that doesn’t exist cause every BODY is a beach body)
And so, the obsession began. I cut down on eating ‘bad foods’; even though there’s no such thing as bad food. I became fixated with eating clean. I couldn’t go one day without doing extreme exercise. At first, it seemed as though I had fairly good intentions. I took it as being healthy. However, as my obsessions continued and I kept on losing weight, my behaviours became dangerous. I couldn’t eat a meal without throwing it up. I couldn’t eat without feeling guilty afterwards. I felt as though I couldn’t eat certain foods. That I didn’t deserve to eat.
Despite watching the pounds fall, my disorder still wasn’t satisfied. It couldn’t stop until another rib started to appear or another month would go by without my period. No matter how many times I stood in front of the mirror thinking that I had gone too far, it still wasn’t enough. I still heard the abusive voices in my head, bullying me for ‘losing control’ by eating, and praising me when I didn’t. While my anorexia told me to lie, to hide, to abide by its rules and instructions, it also taught me to ignore. Ignore the signs of my body slowly deteriorating. And because I was following those rules, I felt good about it, which encouraged my behaviours forward.
Weird rules around food began to develop. Don’t eat on your own. Only eat at certain times. Don’t eat carbs. Never finish your food. Don’t eat in between meals. Only eat with certain cutlery. Never let anyone make your food. I became completely absorbed by the rules of what my eating disorder was telling me to do.
But none of it mattered to me. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t go for a cocktail with friends. Didn’t matter that I couldn’t sleep at night. Didn’t matter that I put the ability to have a family at risk. None of it mattered because I was listening to that voice, the voice in my head. Anorexia made me believe that I was doing more good to my body but in reality, I was simply getting closer and closer to the edge. I was so invested in what was going on in my head that I was distant to what was happening in the real world. Things that I used to care about were oblivious to me. Exercise became difficult because I didn’t have the energy and it would hurt. Socialising was too much effort and caused to much anxiety. My best friend became the bully that was living in my head.
I got to a point where I couldn’t see myself getting out of it. I could not envision recovery. But then, something clicked in me. With the help of my friends and family, I found a reason to allow myself to eat again. I was finished with the control, the lying, the harm that I was doing to my body, the risk that I was putting on my future. I wanted to have a cocktail without feeling anxious. I wanted to eat my favourite meal again. To eat at whatever time. To have a burger. To have a salad. To be completely free from the thing that was controlling me. So, I decided to recover.
And it is not easy. Recovering is like diving into the deep-end without arm bands. In fact, it is more than that. It is jumping into shark infested waters. Having to not only try to rationalise your brain, but to stick to a meal plan that consists of more food than even the average man would eat, simply to stay ticking along. You are challenging yourself to your biggest fears without the comfort of your disorder to confide in. You are having to give up and break down the rules you have spent years making in your head. You have to let go of control and watch the hard work you put in slowly slip away. We have to deal with the mental abuse you put on yourself for sticking to your meal plan or resisting the urge to exercise. Recovering is the hardest thing I have had to go through. Because I am constantly at war with myself.
So next time you look at someone and tell them that they are looking slim, have lost a lot of weight or even wish that you could be them, consider what their story may be. Consider the fact that while they may be slim; they may not be happy. While they are slim, they may stare at themselves in the mirror wishing they weren’t. Consider that they are not healthy. Consider that they are not living a life- only by the strict rules of what their head is telling them too. I used to be that girl, talking about low carb diets and doing sit ups, and where did that leave me? But most importantly. Please don’t think that by losing weight you will live a bigger life. What really matters is that you are healthy. Both mentally and physically. Because some are fighting for their lives with every spoonful. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate above any mental illness and sadly effects more that 1.25 million people in the UK alone. So next time you look in the mirror and wish to drop a pound or two, just to fit the mould, just take a short moment to think about the consequences. Think about the real reason why you are doing it.
Anorexia is a tough and draining mental battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting for.