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I decided to take the risk and it’s been the best decision yet.

Below is a poem I wrote near the start of my recovery from anorexia. I felt I could express myself through poetry and have shared two, one from the start and one now, at the end.

Coiling, hissing around your feet
The warmth, familiarity hard to beat
Silent, yet deadly tight
You try for freedom, but then it bites

Its poisonous sting stays deep within
Buried, unnoticed, part of your skin
You hardly notice, carry on with life
False insecurity, a stabbing knife 

You step forward, you can do it
Carrying on, the end seems lit
So focused on the final light
You miss the hole hidden from sight 

Darkness seems to cloud you
The friendly hiss now scares you
All too late, light distances you
Panic, panic, it hits you 

But the light still flickers from above
It’s there, you know it, a hopeful dove
So you accept the dark you’re currently in
Trust the process, you just might win 

Completing my A levels was hard. I soon became obsessed with revision and control, not feeling like I had ever done enough or was enough. I soon turned to restricting my food intake as a way of feeling a sense of accomplishment, of control. I never consciously decided, it just happened. The weight loss was a side effect of the control I now felt in my life.

However, over the summer things spiralled, and before I knew it I was deferring my place at university and instead being admitted into hospital. The unit I was placed in was, looking back, a blessing. It was hard and pushed me to my limits and to my lowest point, but gave me a need to change, to recover.

After being discharged I managed to stabilise my weight for a short period of time before relapsing, once again having to defer university for another year. This time it was different though: I had a new energy in me to try again. I spent the next year slowly recovering little by little, enough to allow me to start university in the following September. University offered me a fresh start, a new beginning where no one knew my past.

The first year at university was challenging. I remember feeling like I was floating, covering all the thoughts and challenges that faced me and pretending and believing in that pretence that I was fine as I was eating and doing things I hadn’t before. My boyfriend, my friends and family got me through, and my faith in God, which had carried me through so far, got stronger. I remember feeling one day in my second year that I wasn’t free, I wasn’t properly free; it was such an overwhelming feeling of being chained. I was in church at the time and went up for prayer and in that moment I could feel God and I knew I had to push myself further into freedom.

It wasn’t easy though and despite my efforts things got worse and one day after speaking to the doctor I was referred again to a unit as an outpatient. This emptied me. I felt like I’d failed, like I had been a fake person to everyone I had told that I was getting better. I felt ashamed. However, now, looking back, it was a blessing, a turning point. Instead of feeling guilty and wanting to lose weight, I was ashamed by my low weight and shocked at myself. Over the next five months I pushed myself to become a healthy weight and now, after starting my final year at university I am.

I am free. I no longer question when I am hungry; I can eat with my friends; I can snack; I can enjoy all the foods I was scared to. I am reunited with those feelings of joy from my mum’s cooking, excitement over meals out and appreciation for the flavours of food. I am being more spontaneous, and I can honestly say that my rules don’t exist anymore. I feel free. I am learning to love my body and accept myself for who I am.

I want to share this feeling of love and freedom and joy. I want others experiencing the effects of anorexia to know there is hope; there is light, and taking that step into the unknown is the best decision ever. God, my supportive boyfriend, friends and families have got me this far, and I’m so excited to see what the future now holds.

Feeling alive

I can see the light piercing through the bare trees
I can hear the sharp crunch of the crisp, colourful leaves underfoot
I can see the sun paint the sky with its early evening glow
I can feel the happiness of freedom 

I can hear the warmth of chatter form the cafes
I can feel the chill of the autumnal air
I can hear the laughter, I can see the smiles
I can feel the happiness of freedom 

I can feel the air, the rush of the breeze
I can see the beauty of the golden colours carpet the ground
I can feel alive, I can feel rescued
I can feel the happiness of freedom
I can touch it, I can be free

Contributed by Charlotte

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