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 feetThe warmth, familiarity hard to beatSilent, yet deadly tightYou try for freedom, but then it bites
Its poisonous sting stays deep withinBuried, unnoticed, part of your skinYou hardly notice, carry on with lifeFalse insecurity, a stabbing knife
You step forward, you can do itCarrying on, the end seems litSo focused on the final lightYou miss the hole hidden from sight
Darkness seems to cloud youThe friendly hiss now scares youAll too late, light distances youPanic, panic, it hits you
But the light still flickers from aboveIt’s there, you know it, a hopeful doveSo you accept the dark you’re currently inTrust 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.
I can see the light piercing through the bare treesI can hear the sharp crunch of the crisp, colourful leaves underfootI can see the sun paint the sky with its early evening glowI can feel the happiness of freedom
I can hear the warmth of chatter form the cafesI can feel the chill of the autumnal airI can hear the laughter, I can see the smilesI can feel the happiness of freedom
I can feel the air, the rush of the breezeI can see the beauty of the golden colours carpet the groundI can feel alive, I can feel rescuedI can feel the happiness of freedomI can touch it, I can be free
'No more, thank you'As she piles my plate high'Mum, I’m not hungry'That’s my favourite lie
I’m breaking up with you.
We’re done. We’re through.
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...