There were two of me – there was Ana (the anorexia) and then there was the real me. I felt like I was being controlled by Ana, and the more food I ate the more my own personality came back. However, the more I ate the more Ana guilt tripped me: ‘Now you’ve eaten that, there’s no possibility of you ever being thin again.’ It was a constant battle of pleasing this ‘thing’ that was controlling my mind and the way I thought – it was a power struggle. I remember walking to school and realising that I physically couldn’t walk anymore, my heart felt that exhausted that I thought it was going to stop at any moment. It was at that point that I knew that If I didn’t eat, I was going to die, and to eat was the most frightening thing in the world. That is why I needed someone to do it for me, control my eating so that I wasn’t the one competing with Ana anymore, and as much as I hated it at the time, it saved my life.
It was easy for me to say that I understood the consequences of not eating... It was easy for me to say that I would get better… but actually doing those things was not easy. It was the fear of losing control that made me go to extreme lengths to make it appear that I was beating Ana, but in actual fact, it was Ana that was beating me. Anorexia was the only thing I was able to control in my life, but at the same time, I enjoyed someone else taking control, whether that be my parents or doctors – it took the pressure off me because I had no other choice. Anorexia was something that I was good at. I never stopped eating, therefore death was never a reality; I ate the bare minimum, therefore I did not realise what all the fuss was about – I was not ill.
Even when told I had two weeks to live I thought it was a lie – death was something that would not happen to me.
I don’t know whether anorexia ever fully goes away, but I do know that there is more to life than anorexia and that it has made me a better person. It taught me how to love my life and brought me closer to my family. When I get asked why I decided to starve myself, I can’t pinpoint a reason; I don’t understand the illness myself so I don’t expect anyone else too. When I look back to the time when I was ill, when I thought that anorexia was a part of me, a friend maybe, I just see a girl possessed. When you have anorexia, you are not fully alive – something else takes over. No one chooses anorexia, or wakes up one morning and decides not to eat. Anorexia chooses you – that is the reality.
You have to learn how to live again and, like with any lessons, you often have to fail to learn the best way or the right way...
In the past I’ve wanted to hide the eating disorders that are part of my history, but I want to shout from the rooftops: I'm proud of how far I had come!
What a year 2020 has been in general for everyone – it was a year no one ever could have imagined, from panic buying, toilet roll shortages, lockdowns and restrictions. Yet for so many, including me, the battle against an eating disorder continued.