I am a 47-year-old women who has fought anorexia since I was 21. The past three years has been my toughest fight yet. I am now in my fourth month of recovery. Whilst in treatment and seeing psychiatrists, therapists and dietitians, my best friend stuck by me and quite frankly kept me alive. I can see now what this was like for her watching me shrink, slowly fading away, and recently she shared this letter she wrote to my Anorexia when I was at my worst. I wanted to share this powerful piece of writing as a thank you to my constant supporter and friend, and to raise awareness of how family and friends experience this brutal disease. I truly hope others like me have just someone who stands by them, just like Emma did with me. Her unconditional love was priceless and significant in my recovery.
So there you are, sitting on my mate’s shoulder with her for all her waking and sleeping hours. You’ve been with her for just about a year now, but you’ve been there before, haven’t you? Whispering in her ear, encouraging her to virtually starve herself and not allowing any respite from normality.
I’m not sure how you got there, but what I do know is that you grabbed hold of her just when she was at her most vulnerable. You knew she couldn’t fight back, but that’s what you do, isn’t it? You invited yourself in just when her back was turned and it was too late.
She can’t shake you off. You force her to over exercise on too few calories a day, she can’t look at herself without feeling disgust, and you sit there judging her knowing that she is powerless to fight back.
Then, when she couldn’t be any lower, you invited your equally evil mate bulimia to sit on her other shoulder. I have watched over the months the tell-tale signs as the two of you have ravaged her body. You have led her into a nocturnal life where she is terrified to sleep but then terrified to wake as she knows she faces another battle of trying to keep the two of you at bay. You are doing your best to suffocate her with your relentless messages about food, calories, body image and all the rest of your obsessive rubbish. You’re relentless and you’ve been successful in keeping her a prisoner in her own body.
One thing I will never forgive you for is making her feel so separate from her real life and the people who love her. Her children, family and friends. I know when you are shouting loudest at her, as this is when I do not hear from her, she doesn’t answer my texts, or fobs me off with some lame excuse as to why she can’t meet me. But I am relentless too, and I know I am a thorn in your side because I won’t give up.
I’ve seen other monsters like you preying on young girls, but my mate is in her forties and some may think she should know better. There are times you force others to say ‘oh, I wish for just a bit of her thinness’! That’s the weird affect you have on people. You know that women are primarily judged on their ability to be thin and on how they look. I have to give it to you – you’re clever! However, you and I both know that nobody chooses to be that ill, but you make them feel trapped without any chance of escape.
You have the ability to mask yourself as self-control that’s been a bit excessive…But you are so much more than that. You’re a ruthless killer and when you go all out that’s exactly what you do. She’s trying so hard to beat you and there have been times when she has believed she’s turned a corner, only to find that you’re behind that corner, leaving her with no place to hide.
You have stolen her identity…She doesn’t even know who she is anymore…is she Mother, Daughter, Mate…Whatever, you have robbed her of this. How dare you!
It’s a full-on war now, you against her and her body has become the battle ground. You know she’s scared but you don’t know how strong she is. She’s tough, really tough. She’s got good people around her who love and support her…You don’t have that, everyone despises you. That’s why she’ll win. So watch it, Anorexia: we’re coming to get you!!!
I’m telling you now, you rob me, her children, her family and all the masses of people who love her, I will come and eat you alive…I will be in your head just like you’ve been in hers and then show you that you can be broken, because you will not take her life; of this I am sure…Be warned, because you can’t have her…she belongs to people who love and cherish her, not to a disease that thinks she is a toy.
Love from a strong woman!