i’ve debated for a long time whether i should write this or not, but i figured if it helps just one person, then it’s been worthwhile. it’s a hard thing to write about partly because i’ve never talked to anyone about it before. i’ve made the rare passing comment, but never talked about it in detail.
as you may have guessed from the title, i want to talk about anorexia. and that you can recover from it. but with anything like this, you have to want to. it is so, so hard to bring yourself to eat ‘normal’, healthy amounts of food when eating is the complete opposite of what you want to do. this is just my experience, and it will be different for everybody.
it first started for me when i was about 17 or 18. it didn’t stem from wanting to be like slim models in magazines or anything like that, because that never even occurred to me. i think for me where it started was seeing a photo of myself (not the one above, obviously). because of my small frame, being overweight really shows. and i was. not obese, but definitely overweight. we never had scales in the house, so i didn’t know how much i weighed, but i could see i wasn’t happy with my appearance.
it kind of just spiralled from there really. i didn’t realise for a long time and thought i was just eating less, eating healthier and exercising more to shed the pounds i was unhappy with. but without realising, i just started eating less than that. and less than that again. combined with (at one point) almost constant exercising on pretty much no food i lost a lot of weight.
at my worst i was drinking green tea to ‘fill’ me, and the most i would eat in a day was most of an apple, or a small handful of granola. i still didn’t realise there was any problem. this went on for a couple of years and a particularly low point was when i was at a meal with an ex and he drunkenly said to me ‘can you just eat your food, people will think you’re anorexic and i don’t want to deal with that’. it wasn’t nice. also things like ‘i can see your bones poking out’. ugh.
after some time i started to get a little better, but then due to various events it came back full force. i pretty much lived off tangerines or toast. it’s weird the things you choose to eat at times like this, isn’t it? the comments (behind my back of course) started again, and for a while it completely got on top of me. i’d been though all this so far (and many more rubbish things in life up to that point, but thats another story) with no friends and no one i felt i could talk to, which definitely made it harder for me.
anyhow, in my second year of college in 2007/2008 is when it started to (very slowly) get better. i met my now boyfriend and he also had very similar issues and it was one of many things that really helped us connect. i knew he was someone that totally understood what i was going through. he is a wonderfully supportive man, and he pretty much saved my life at that time without knowing it.
his love, whilst obviously being a help, wasn’t completely what got me through this. i realised i had to just face up to my issues around food. i knew it was going to be a long, long road and i was determined to make it through. i’ve been through many bad things in life, and i knew if i could get through them, i could get through this. i know now i probably should have/could have gone to a doctor to ask for help or referrals, but i couldn’t face it. i’m a strong, independent and determined person, and i knew i could beat this thing that was (pardon the pun) eating away at me.
i slowly started introducing more food in to my diet, trying to find little things in life that made me happy – a thing that has been absolutely invaluable throughout my life – and realising that food is not the devil. it keeps me alive. it gives me energy as well as physical and mental strength. slowly, but surely i started to put more weight on, and, shock horror, it wasn’t the worst thing ever. i felt much happier with my appearance than i had in many years, and i could actually look at myself in a mirror. (to this day i still suffer with mild body dysmorphia, but i don’t let it affect my eating.)
for a few years i was pretty happy with my weight (without actually knowing my actual weight, but you know what i mean) and i got on with life. a year or so after moving to cardiff i decided to try birth control for a bit. out of nowhere my boobs got huge and i put on weight. i knew i wasn’t eating more and i was so worried because i thought this would throw me right back in the deep end with my eating issues. but it didn’t. i stayed strong. i came off them and my weight fluctuated for a while, but then settled.
i still haven’t lost all of that weight, and it’s been a slow process, but i’m getting there. it takes a lot of strength not to go back to those ways, but i am a stronger person now than i’ve ever been. i know that i have to do this slowly and properly.
so, as with eating disorders in any stage of recovery, it is about moderation, and (mental) strength. i’m not going to lie, it is HARD. but if you want to get better, you can. i promise. if you have friends or family you feel you can talk to, please do. if you can bring yourself to go to a doctor, please do. if you feel you don’t have those options, i am here for you too. please, please get in touch with me if you need to talk or get anything off your mind. i am not a professional, but if you need to vent, i am here for you. talking about this, no matter who to, can potentially save your life.