To begin with…
I think anyone suffering and reading should take a moment to feel proud.
It takes a lot for a person with an eating disorder to look beyond what is going on in their own mind and seek help and support from others.
You have made the first step already just by reading this blog and I hope that my story can help you put your next foot forward.
I have chosen to write this piece because I have experienced feelings lately that I thought I had lost forever: joy, true laughter, hope, excitement, and positivity for the future. I would like to help others feel these emotions, no matter how lost they are feeling now.
I can see that life has so much more to offer me than restriction and compulsion.
When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with Anorexia nervosa, having had a poor body image, low self-esteem, and obsessive tendencies for all my life. 8 years on, the illness still whispers to me every day, telling me I’m not worthy, that I’m repulsive and undeserving… but I can fight it now.
Over the period of my illness, I have lost a childhood. Instead of playing in the fields at break in school, I found myself bound to my sofa – unfit to even climb stairs. As I got older, I sacrificed days out with my friends and, even if I was physically there, my mind was miles away, counting the calories I had or had yet to eat that day. When I began university, anorexia landed me in an inpatient unit and became the fifth member of my university flat.
It had pushed my friends away, forced me to stay in most nights, prevented me from having any form of fun, and caused my condition to deteriorate to a dangerous level. The illness took away my relationships: my mum, dad and brother were no longer just that – they became carers, worriers and people who did not want to spend time with the anorexia that had overcome me.
Never throughout my struggle did I believe that I would be able to have girls’ nights outs where I can go out drinking and dancing, or enjoy coffee and cake with my mum.
I am about to begin my third year of university where I am training to become a veterinary surgeon and now I enjoy cold water swims, a healthy level of exercise and, most important of all, fun with friends and family. Never throughout my struggle did I believe that I would be able to have girls’ nights outs where I can go out drinking and dancing, or enjoy coffee and cake with my mum. But I can now, and I’m not going back.
I began with small steps and focused on stopping weighing myself and body checking, throwing out clothes I knew would not fit, until I progressed onto bigger steps in my recovery, such as eating outside the plan (I now even find this fun and exciting as it means variety!). By trying all these things, I learned one key thing: the theoretical weight surge, the loss of control does not happen as a result. So, I can do them again. You are safe to do it too, I promise. If I can give you any message it is this: LET GO. It seems so scary – I know and understand – but once you do, you will never regret it and it will only get easier.
I am not going to claim to be completely recovered – I am far from it. I could not have got this far without my mum – she fights so hard for me every single day and I honestly don’t know how she has stood by me for this long. But I have built a life that can quieten the anorexia beneath.
I realise that I don’t want to waste my life and I want to show the world what I have to offer.
I have made new friends, I have volunteered for opportunities that excite me: last year I worked with wildlife in South Africa and this year I am going to theatre shows, comedy gigs and music venues, whilst enjoying all the eating and drinking which comes along with it. I have also taken up hobbies again which the illness had led me to believe were pointless. I now paint, bake (and eat!), and absolutely love reading. By surrounding myself in this life, I realise that I don’t want to waste my life and I want to show the world what I have to offer. I have also recently moved out to share a flat with friends, something which scares me as I now must take full care of myself. But for the first time I feel, and I know, that I can do it…. and I want to do it.
Because what does anorexia have to offer me? Loneliness, coldness, weakness, obsession, restlessness, and a constant feeling of lowness. And what is the alternative? A life working with animals, a social life which brings me buckets of laughter, self-love, satisfaction and a family who I can show how much I love – for they have never done anything but love me back.
So please: LET GO. I know you can do it.
-Contributed by Charlotte
If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, or are concerned for yourself or a loved one, you can find support and guidance on the help pages of our website.
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